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Jay L Swan 01-10-2007 08:18 PM

hybrid endurance training
So my dirty little secret (and I'm letting it out on my third post) is that I'm sort of an endurance athlete.

For most of my life, my athletic endeavors revolved entirely around martial arts. I didn't do much dedicated S&C until the early-to-mid-90s, and for a few years it consisted mostly of sporadic hill running and bodybuilding-type weight training that I picked up from friends. In the late 90s I started reading T-Nation (then Testosterone) and started focusing on multi-joint exercises. In 2000 I moved to Colorado and wanted to see the backcountry, but I didn't have time for backpacking trips.

This got me interested in LSD trail running. This started in 2001/2002, and by 2005 I had worked up to a 50-mile trail race. Everything I did was on trails, usually with several thousand feet of climb, at altitude. I think I became aware of CrossFit in 2003 or 2004, and played with it on and off for quite a while.

After the 50-mile trail race, I was dissatisfied with how weak I'd gotten. It was also around this time that I discovered Gym Jones. I started messing around with doing high-intensity circuits during the week, and long run/hikes on the weekends. This worked quite well.

Last year I was continuing with this program until I got injured (one injury from starting martial arts again, the other from standing in tight rock shoes for too long). Right now my running is limited to the 6-10 mile range, so I'm focusing on increasing speed at shorter distances, and on getting stronger. The current program looks like this:

Monday - strength (weighted pullups and squats)
Tuesday - 5.5 mile run with intervals according to feel
Wed - met con circuit
Thurs - strength (weighted dips or floor press and squats)
Fri/Sat/Sun - rest, met con, or run/hike, depending on family obligations

I'm mainly posting this to see if there are any other endurance-ish athletes out there who do similar types of work. I am simultaneously sympathetic to and mystified by the anti-endurance meme. If I lived in the city I would never run--excruciatingly boring. But living in the mountains, I can't see how anybody doesn't want to run the trails.

Mike ODonnell 01-11-2007 05:11 AM


Originally Posted by Jay L Swan (Post 3165)
So my dirty little secret (and I'm letting it out on my third post) is that I'm sort of an endurance athlete.

Please leave.

Ok....just kidding of course. Wow....I get tired driving 50miles. That's great that you have learned to bring in the strength component so many neglect. While endurance running for me is more 5-10ks....I hear you on the "running in the mountains", that is just a different experience all in itself....even if my runs are quite a bit shorter. (my knees can't handle anything more after 30+ years of hockey destruction) But that's why I got the mountain bike! 8hr adventure races a couple times a year is about as endurance as I get. I am sure if I ever lived in the mountains I would probably do more on the weekends.

Although you may not find a ton of endurance people on here, you will find people who will give you sound advice on training. They know their *#^& around here as the kids like to say.

James Evans 01-11-2007 05:24 AM

I'm with you on the anti-endurance theme. I get it and I don't.

I have no desire to pound the streets in pursuit of a marathon dream but 15 miles of trails on foot or 30 miles on a mountain bike pushes my buttons.

I know sprints sort you out but I disliked them when I played rugby and I dislike them now. I enjoy my weights, I enjoy my running, I enjoy my cycling. Perhaps I don't get the best results because of the methods I combine but I do get the fun that I need to escape work, commuting on a cattle truck like train, all the other **** in life.

I think runners need to be more open to ideas outside running and those outside running shouldn't be so judgemental of something they are not that fond of themselves.

Also I feel many people who come to CrossFit should assess their goals because you do hear a lot complain about the lack of running or the fact that their distance times decrease. Do they want a superb system for GPP or do they want to continue with something they really enjoy? I don't see why the Black Box need be exclusive to strength development. Or take in some of the methods used by Eugene Allen ( or even, heaven forbid those rebel scum over at Gym Jones.

Out of interest, on a 50 mile trail, are you running constantly or running/marching as you would do in a multi-day event like the Marathon de Sables?

Having set myself up as some kind of rugby guru and made Shaf think about dusting off his boots I've now blown my cover.

Mike ODonnell 01-11-2007 06:11 AM


Originally Posted by Jay L Swan (Post 3165)
I am simultaneously sympathetic to and mystified by the anti-endurance meme. If I lived in the city I would never run--excruciatingly boring. But living in the mountains, I can't see how anybody doesn't want to run the trails.

For me I put it this way, I don't think it is a pure "anti-endurance" theme....although powerlifters will powerlift and runners will run. Most sports are a cross between explosiveness and aerobic capacity. That's not the issue.....for me it's the general press and media giving the impression that doing ONLY endurance related activities is the holy grail of health and fitness. When I believe that fact is utterly wrong and possibly the complete opposite as that attitude alone is doing more harm than good for the general public.

"Lower intensity aerobic training is relatively useless for optimal fat loss purposes. Furthermore, for some populations, it's likely to be detrimental."
— Alwyn Cosgrove

I enjoy lifting weights, sprints and a good long mountain bike ride....basically a balance of everything. I don't believe there will ever just be one right way for anything, life is more complex and smarter than we think we are.

Jay L Swan 01-11-2007 07:37 PM

I agree about the misrepresentation of endurance as the "holy grail". However, I think that the principal harms of endurance training are chiefly in highly competitive, obsessive racers who in a high-volume, high-intensity mode without ever taking significant rest.

There are a few people in the ultrarunning world who have been very consistent in finishing very difficult events on a comparatively low-volume, high-intensity training program. They are still doing long stuff, but instead of doing several long runs a week, they do a very long, very slow effort once every few weeks. They aren't winning any races, but they have a lot of longevity in the sport.

James--I was at the back of the pack in the 50. I probably walked more than half of it. I twisted an ankle around mile 35 and walked almost all of the last 12 miles or so.

Dave Van Skike 01-12-2007 04:18 PM


Originally Posted by Jay L Swan (Post 3230)
I agree about the misrepresentation of endurance as the "holy grail". However, I think that the principal harms of endurance training are chiefly in highly competitive, obsessive racers who in a high-volume, high-intensity mode without ever taking significant rest.


Boom. You hit it.

Some smart guy said, "All training is complimentary" I would add, "All training is complimentary, some training is more complimentary that others"

I get mildly bewildered and annoyed at the rampant anti endurance vibe, because the reality is, people are reacting to a cultural indoctrination not the actual sport. I read recently someone bashing running, based on the observation that most recreational runners are fat slobs and most elite runners are pale wisps. I'm sorry but that is like bashing power lifting based on the bench club mullet fest that happen M/W/F in the average commercial gym. Those guys are no more power athletes than the parade of folks who sign up to run/walk a 5k.

Second weird vibe is the constant question of what form of training is most natural. Will these sprints plus adn all animal brain diet make me a better, more complete paleo humanoid?

Who the f&*%k cares. Shouldn't it be fun? White teeth and gene expression be damned, sometimes it's just really fun to go really, really fast for a really, really long ways. Kind of like doing a bunch of pullups and thrusters…The fact that it's hard is the fun part. If you don't get that , some of your key genes are not expressing correct. Saavy?

As for competitive strength endurance events, I used to could do that. Had to quit over ruined knees, Wasn't the bike that did it. It was my over application of squats and bike what did it. I have raced alongside some incredibly strong endurance athletes that off the bike were very adept strength athletes as well. I think with thoughtful application, one can be strong (in a power to weight ratio sense) and have great endurance. Maybe not "Elite", maybe not even Category 4, but still you can still have the speed and strength to really enjoy a long slog in the mountains, a good long row or a long hard climb.

Anyway, long diatribe short-

if I haven't done a sport at a competitive level, I wouldn't want to punk myself by bashing that sport at any length. (Other than Ice dancing, which for me is just grating.) Over the last couple years I have rehabbed myself from an under-strong set of arthritic legs with lungs on top, to a mildly capable dabbler in strength training. I have nothing but respect to anyone who will throw their hat into the game,

any game: power lifting event, GS, Mountain bike race, track and field, ultra marathons……whatever,

If you sign up, train and up on the big day. One word. Respeck. (trademark Ali G)

Motion MacIvor 01-13-2007 11:50 AM

Hi jay,
I've been doing a mix of weights and endurance work (more endurance than weights) for the last 9 years. I was looking at your schedule and it looks pretty tough to me I guess you know your own body better than I do but I know that I would run out of gas after about 3 weeks of trying to keep up with that monkey business. I notice that your training your legs almost every day (not neccesarily a bad thing) but you only do dips once and chinups once a week? That's a fairly sport specific program (also not a bad thing).

If I were you I would try to reduce the number of intense workouts to about three per week. I dont know how intense your strength workouts are but I would consider breaking them into one day 5X5 (squat, shoulder, press DL, big stuff like that) black box style with a minimal cardio component, and one day with a Fran, Diane, Grace, or Elizabeth style workout where you have a large strength component and a huge cardio componet in a short amount of time.

After that I would say only one longer Met con Cindy, or Chelsea type work out *or* a sprint/interval work out. After that I would add in LSD running or hiking or swiming or whatever floats your boat.

I would also suggest that the 5x5 day should come after a bit of a rest and not right after a metcon day so you can give it a solid effort.

The other thing you should think about is how you want your workout to look on a monthly and seasonal scale. for monthly example you could do hard week, harder week, hardest week, easy week. As for seasonal it's best if you take a lood at stuff written by Joe Friel or Tudor Bompa. Hope that helps

Oh yeah try to break up the LSD workouts into either recovery workouts or easy conditioning workouts. If you feel beat down do a recovery workout if you feel great do a conditioning workout. If you really want to get scientific about it go to
take a look at their forum, and pick up a blood lactate monitor. Those guys are bleeding edge in the world of endurance sports.

Jeremy Jones 01-16-2007 04:07 PM

Wow. Dave busted out the "Saavy?"


I love pirate words. I liked the rest of your post too (saavy or no).

Jay L Swan 06-14-2007 08:20 PM

I thought I'd follow up on this with my "progress" in this hybrid endurance thing. I haven't been able to follow the schedule I posted originally to any great degree. Over the last 3-4 months, though, I've done the following:

-About 2 runs per week in the 4-6 mile range, occasionally just one

-One lower body strength-focus day per week: usually front or back squats, occasionally power cleans or deadlifts

-A lot of KBs and metcon circuits: some common themes are variations on Dan John's "Big Five 55", lots of stuff involving KB swings, KB C&Js, weighted pullups, weighted dips, some rower sprints. I have been focusing more on trying add weight in the circuits rather than dive deeper into cardio hell.

-3 runs in the two hour range

-1 run/hike in the 5+ hour range that felt very good and was a decent time (for me) for the distance/elevation.

During this time I hit a PR in the deadlift (275), a PR in the weighted pullup (+105), and tied an old PR in the power clean (155). My bodyweight fluctuated between 150 and 155 at about 5'10".

My conclusion based on the 5+ hour effort is that it is possible to do relatively little endurance work and still feel good on long efforts, as long as that long effort happens occasionally; I think the occasional two-hour runs really helped my base.

I'm going to cycle in sprints (done in the form of Litvinovs) and try to do one long effort every 2-3 weeks for the rest of the summer and see what happens.

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