For the past few years I found myself mulling over the fact that I could run one hundred miles averaging just over ten minute miles, but could not do a pull up. How could this be? What did this mean about me as an “athlete”? I tried running more, it seemed logical at the time; more miles would equate to me being faster, stronger and overall a higher caliber athlete. Reality was that more miles meant more injuries, more imbalances and more mental and physical fatigue.
Everyday on my way to work I drove past a new training facility called Champlain Valley Crossfit. I finally went online, perused the website and then contacted the owner Jade Jenny. Within a few email exchanges, I was convinced and enrolled in “on-ramp”. As I entered the gym for the first few sessions, I was terrified that my weaknesses would be exposed. I feared that I would flounder as my body only seemed to be comfortable with one motion, running. Despite my worry and within no time, the gym became a place of excitement and exertion and crossfit became an integral part of my ultrarunning training.
Early April marked my first ultra of the year and a time to see how my new training regime would payoff. I felt faster and stronger both mentally and physically. As I toed the line for the Bull Run Run 50 miler in Virginia, I had no reservations. Throughout the race I felt like I was not forcing my running and was just out for a long run. A noticeable difference the entire run was my posture and ability to keep good form due to increased core strength.
Crossing the finish line in a time of 7:04 meant I had taken over 18 minutes off my old course record despite enduring more difficult conditions. But what was most astonishing was that during the following days I was not sore. My body held up well during the race and recovered faster than previous years. Just three weeks later I was able to compete in another 50 mile race, The North Face Bear Mountain 50 miler, whereas in previous years this would not have been feasible for my body. I finished the technical and mountainous course in a time of 9:19 in first place.
There is no doubt in my mind that Crossfit has truly helped me improve my total body fitness and has shown me that getting stronger and faster can be fun despite the rigorous workouts. To be honest, I get just as nervous lining up for a big race as I do when a crossfit instructor counts down the final seconds to a our daily WOD (workout of the day), 3, 2, 1, GO! Crossfit and more specifically Champlain Valley Crossfit has become a core value and practice in my ultrarunning training regime!