Monday, April 26, 2010

A Better Test of CrossFit: "Toughest Half-Marathon in the Northwest"

By Greg Perkins

Recall that the goal with CrossFit training is not to be elite at anything in particular, but rather to perform well at everything in general -- to "specialize in not specializing" athletically. CrossFit's founder thinks this is possible, and that their methodology is the best way to pull it off. Of course this just begs to be put to the test, as I explained last time with the story of Tammy taking on her first ultra run.

We had a lot of fun with that test, but wouldn't it have been even more interesting to use someone who didn't start out as a trained runner? Sure!

That would require finding the right lab rat. Maybe someone who wasn't athletic and sporty growing up... think "classic band-geek who's into computers." Like me. :^) Even as an adult who became active, I simply didn't enjoy running. "Sorry dear, I know you looooove running, but it's mountain biking for me -- your 'fun' hurts too much!" So of course I've never trained to run any of the races I would never have thought to enter in the first place. Like Robie. (Cue the ominous music.) Growing up in Boise, I was well aware of this annual rite that draws thousands of masochistic runners from all over: The Race to Robie Creek, billed as "the toughest half-marathon in the Northwest." No kidding.

It's so easy to be all macho about stuff in the future, isn't it? "Alright, T -- if you actually run that Moab ultra, I'll run Robie!"

Then, wouldn't you know it, the future arrived. It was test time. Would my unspecialized training let me "perform well" at this fabled exercise in running brutality? Or, failing that, could I at least finish the horrid thing and not be prevented from using stairs for a week? Here's how it all went down:

As for the stairs question: happily, no problem! While I could certainly feel tightness in my legs for a couple of days, I wasn't hampered. Case in point: the Monday morning following the race I turned in a strong performance on our regularly-scheduled random CrossFit beatdown, which happened to be dominated by lunge-walking and squats.

(P.S.: Did you notice who was already there, waiting for me at the finish line? Yeah, the little sandbagger. Even that morning, Tammy was saying she didn't expect to be able to do more than jog/walk Robie in a social way because of training for, running, and having only three weeks to recover from a very different kind of race. Yet she ended up being the 25th female over the line and outright won her age division! Needless to say, she's thrilled with having gained the capacity to so casually demolish the best results she ever saw with her previous training methods.)

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