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Should You Try a CrossFit Endurance Class?

The unconventional, WOD-inspired race-training program focuses on high-intensity intervals instead of high mileage.

You’ve got a spring race on the calendar, which means you should be racking up the miles rather than the reps—right? Not necessarily. A new class called CrossFit Endurance (CFE) uses short, high-intensity intervals to help athletes prep for distance running events. The workouts offer the same results as logging multiple miles per day, but put less wear and tear on the body.

To get a better feel for what CFE is all about, we caught up with Heidi Jones, a CrossFit Endurance coach at CrossFit NYC, who walked us through what to expect. “In traditional running, there has long been a philosophy that 'more mileage is better' when training for running races like half and full marathons,” says Jones. “But CrossFit Endurance doesn't believe in this archaic philosophy.” Instead, race prep centers on completing 60-minute interval workouts several times a week. Here are some example workouts of the day (WODs).

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Sample CFE WODs

  1. Do 10 100-meter sprints with 10 pushups in between each interval.
  2. Do as many rounds of the following as possible within 15 minutes:

    50m sprint
    10 pushups
    10 situps
    10 air squats

  3. Tempo Workout/Equal Rest for Equal Work: Run at an up-tempo pace then recover for the same amount of time. Start with 30-second intervals, move up to 90-second intervals, and then come back down.

    :30 up-tempo with a :30 jog
    :45 up-tempo with a :45 jog
    :60 up-tempo with a :60 jog
    :90 up-tempo with a :90 jog
    :60 up-tempo with a :60 jog
    :45 up-tempo with a :45 jog
    :30 up-tempo with a :30 jog

  4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): The HIIT method is interval training performed at such an intense level that your body spends the rest of the day expending energy to recover from the workout. That’s a fancy way to say that you will burn serious calories both during and after you exercise.

    4 Rounds for Time:

    Sprint all out for 10 seconds
    Rest 10 seconds
    Sprint all out for 10 seconds
    Rest 20 seconds
    Sprint all out for 10 seconds
    Rest 30 seconds
    Sprint all out for 10 seconds
    Rest 40 seconds
    Sprint all out for 10 seconds
    Rest 50 seconds

While CFE WODs can help you prepare to tackle things like half and full marathons or adventure races, you don’t have to be a runner to sign up. The class is a way for any CrossFitter to boost endurance and build explosive strength. CFE is most effective when done in tandem with weekly CrossFit WODs. Two to three CFE days combined with three to four regular CrossFit days each week will have a CrossFitter seeing gains that would normally take months to accrue with CrossFit alone.

If you are using CFE as part of a race-training program, aim for three to four CFE WODs during the week and do one long run on either Saturday or Sunday (see, you knew you couldn’t get out of logging long miles altogether). 

How will you know if CFE is working? Just like CrossFit has benchmark WODs to help you measure your progress, CFE has five goals that you can use to monitor your individual improvement over time: 1-mile time trial, 5-K time trial, 100-meter sprint, 400-meter sprint and 1,000-meter row.


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