in CrossFit, that is, when I finished my third marathon of my life with a 30 minute PR, no watch, no cramping, no wall, no injuries, and an incredibly fast recovery. It wasn’t racking up a million mile training log that got me there. It was 18 months of following CrossFit main site with a bit of CrossFit Endurance mixed in…..period.
This spoke volumes about the benefits of CrossFit type high intensity training, following a primal/paleo diet, and just saying NO to too much cardio. The majority of my running was between 100-800m at a time when they randomly came up in main site workouts, plus 1-2 extra short runs a week in the last couple months leading up to the marathon. Believe me, I was a bit nervous going in with my longest run at 6 miles, but it turns out my CrossFit science experiment worked!
I have always considered myself a runner. From my first 1 mile run in 6th grade, throughout high school, college, Army, and early motherhood I ran either competitively or recreationally. My results were decent….never the best, but never the worst. It took me a while to comprehend that short bursts of intense activity through sprinting, body weight exercises, and weight lifting could enhance your overall stamina and cardio-respiratory endurance. After feeling like I was almost running on air for 26.2 miles though, I didn’t need any more convincing. Now, I much prefer a pull-up bar and a barbell to running any day!
Here are the straight facts so you can decide for yourself:
- Burns too many carbs → makes you crave more carbs → never-ending vicious cycle
- Promotes hyperinsulinemia
- Increases oxidative damage → free radicals form → you age faster
- Promotes inflammation → chronic inflammation → insulin resistance and diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, reproductive issues…
- Increases stress hormone cortisol → stores fat instead of burning it (ever wonder why your feet run a million miles but you still have a spare tire?)
- Increases fatigue and burnout
- Increases loss of bone density and decreases muscle
- Depresses immune function
For further research and reading:
- Read Mark Sisson’s story about his conversion from “mileage king” to primal guru here and a consolidation of studies against his coined phrase “chronic cardio” here.
- Read why too much cardio can cause heart disease here.
- Another good article
I still enjoy a run every now and again, maybe even once a week on my rest days. I see them as chances to enjoy a good playlist, get my legs moving after a few intense days, and of course….to confirm my hypothesis that you don’t need to run an extraordinary amount of miles to have extraordinary endurance!
Here’s to getting off the treadmill and learning your way around a barbell instead,