How Running Can Help You Achieve Peak Fitness: Start Running Injury Free

OnSide Academy
April 30, 2023

Peak fitness – are you there yet?

Peak fitness probably means something different to you than it does for me.

For many of us, achieving peak fitness means developing the ability to do a broad range of physical activity fairly well. Peak fitness in my eyes means:

  • being able to lift heavy things without worrying about hurting myself.
  • running quickly for short to moderate length intervals.
  • jogging or hiking for a very long distance without needing to quit or give up.
  • being as strong as possible in the lightest package.

With each fitness program, someone is going to tell you that their method is the best method for achieving peak physical fitness. The kettlebell guy says it’s kettlebells. The bootcamp lady says it’s 5lb weights and her classes in the park. The personal trainer might tell you that all forms of exercise are dangerous (except the workouts that they make).

The reality is, the only thing that prepares you for everything is a varied and well-balanced fitness program. In this article, we want to explore some of the downsides of adopting an all-or-nothing mentality on your quest to find peak fitness and – we’ve got a free INTRO TO RUNNING resource that will help you get going.

Read on, readers!

The Problem with a Running-Only Fitness Regimen

Running as your only form of exercise leads to some big problems. The running community (if their honest) can all probably talk about one time or another that they developed an injury that kept them from running. While there is no question that accidents happen and some injuries are not avoidable, most injuries that are attributed to running are avoidable with a robust cross-training program like ours.

Here are some of the primary issues with a running only program:

  1. Imbalances: Relying solely on running for exercise will lead to muscular imbalances, as it predominantly works the same movement patterns in the lower body, meaning you’re creating imbalance if you aren’t squatting, lifting, lunging, etc. Not to mention, running neglects upper body strength which can result in poor posture, increased risk of injury, and diminished overall athletic performance.
  2. Repetitive and Boring: For many people, running can become monotonous, with the same movements repeated over and over. This can lead to a lack of motivation and a decrease in workout frequency or intensity, stalling progress towards fitness goals. While there are lots of ways to make running entertaining if you’re struggling with this point, an easy solution is to join a group fitness class.
  3. Higher Risk of Injury: Running-only regimens place a great deal of stress on the joints, particularly the knees, hips, and ankles. Over time, this stress can lead to overuse injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and tendonitis. One of the most common issues comes from neglecting accessory work and flexibility work.

The Problem with a CrossFit-Only Regimen

While there is some gray area in this section, for the most part CrossFit often does a poor job improving your aerobic fitness. While we’ve always considered it important to have long workouts each week, the groans we get from introducing the occasional 40 minute workout are getting louder and louder.

Grass-roots CrossFit programming will often throw 5km runs, 10km rows, and 40-minute workouts. The programming we’re on often includes a weekly long workout, running and morale support.

Here are some of the issues that are introduced from a CrossFit only regimen:

  1. Lack of Aerobic Fitness: While CrossFit workouts can be highly effective in improving strength, power, and agility, they often lack a strong focus on aerobic endurance. Neglecting this aspect of fitness can limit overall athletic performance and hinder progress in other areas.
  2. Inefficient Lactic Acid Clearance: CrossFit workouts often involve high-intensity exercises that cause rapid accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Without sufficient aerobic training, your body may struggle to efficiently clear lactic acid, leading to prolonged muscle fatigue and reduced exercise capacity.
  3. Inability to Sustain Long Forms of Exercise: A CrossFit-only regimen may not provide the necessary endurance training to sustain prolonged bouts of exercise, such as long-distance running, hiking or cycling. This can limit an athlete’s overall performance and ability to participate in a variety of sports or activities.

How Running Compliments a CrossFit Regimen

Bringing these two worlds together often makes for an extremely effective fitness program.

For the most part, outside of running-specific developments, CrossFit does a great job (assuming you’re at a gym with high-quality programming) developing everything outside of long-slow running. If you’re thinking about your imbalances or inefficiencies, there is a good chance they are centered around long-distance, slow runs.

Here are some of the benefits that would come with adding a running workout into your fitness schedule at least once a week:

  • Building an Aerobic Energy System: Incorporating running into your fitness routine helps develop your aerobic energy system, which in turn improves your body’s ability to tolerate and clear lactic acid. This enhanced lactic tolerance can lead to reduced muscle fatigue and improved performance during high-intensity workouts.
  • Great Way to Clear Soreness: Adding running to your CrossFit routine can help alleviate muscle soreness by promoting blood flow and nutrient delivery to sore muscles. This increased circulation can accelerate recovery and reduce downtime between workouts.
  • Improved Performance in Long Bouts of Exercise: Developing your aerobic fitness through running can improve your ability to sustain longer bouts of exercise, increasing your overall athletic performance and versatility.

Looking to Start Running? Download Our Guide!

With the help of our personal trainers, the physios at Pelvico, and our expert coaches, we’ve created an extremely thorough “Intro to Running” program.

If you’re looking to get into running, fill out the form and check out this guide. It covers everything from getting started to some injury prevention you can proactively perform

Incorporating running into your CrossFit routine can help you achieve a well-rounded, sustainable fitness level where you aren’t worrying about injuries or peak performance. By understanding the limitations of a running-only or CrossFit-only regimen and embracing the benefits of combining these two disciplines, you can unlock your full athletic potential and enjoy a lifetime of health and fitness.

Don’t forget to download our Intro to Running resource for tips on starting your running journey injury-free!

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