Running & CrossFit

I literally ate myself silly this weekend. This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands- I’m so bored that I convince myself that I am hungry. It’s probably in my best interest to NOT gain 10 pounds before the half marathon in fear that my body will be incapable of lugging around the extra weight- I kid, I kid, but seriously. Lesson learned- do not keep chips in the apartment.

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There’s a lot of conflicting arguments about endurance training and weight lifting- primarily doing them both at the same time. This is something that I’ve been trying to “figure out” for the past couple of weeks or so. More or less, the truth is this: If you want to gain muscle mass, you can’t be cutting calories.

The actual problem is this: If you want your muscles to show, you kind of have to cut calories unless you’re already lean- however, this is unfortunately not my case. Running automatically “cuts” calories from you by burning so many calories at once. Simply shoveling food back into your system to “make-up” for that caloric deficit is not necessarily a smart choice- as you will most likely just maintain if not gain weight (the dreaded marathon-training weight gain) and it does nothing for your muscles. Also- an inevitable problem is the shift of muscle fiber types depending on training. Endurance training automatically stimulates the growth and recruitment of Type I muscle fibers- or, slow twitch muscle fibers. Weight training- or anything that really pushes the anaerobic threshold, automatically stimulates the growth and recruitment of Type II muscle fibers- or, fast twitch muscle fibers. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the growth and recruitment of BOTH to their max potential, is possible. Meaning that, either way- you’re taking away from one or the other if you’re engaging in both endurance training AND weight training for the goal of hypertrophy (enlarging muscle fibers) and/or muscular strength. And that, my friends, is exactly what I’m trying to do.
Not on purpose.
Not to try and defy the odds and become a physical anomaly.
But because I want to.
I want to run distance. And I want to lift heavy weights.
I am sorry, but I am not going to switch to “muscular endurance” training and just start lifting teeny, tiny weights over and over again just because my stupid muscle fibers would prefer that.
Maybe it’s dumb. Maybe it’s counterproductive and that’s why I still run as slow as a snail and feel like a beached whale more often than not.
But you know what? Screw it. If I feel good when I get out of the gym after a heavy lift and if I feel good after I cover 11+ miles (note that here, when I say “feel good after 11+ miles” I really mean: feel like absolute death and my BONES hurt but I love it).
I don’t know if I’m excited to be done with training or not. What I’m almost POSITIVE is going to happen is that I’m going to be on such a runner’s high after I finish the half that I’m just going to want to keep going- not right then and there- but I’m going to want to continue to train- something harder, something longer. (TWSS?)  That’s how I got here- training for a half when two years ago I’d cringe at the thought of covering 3 miles.

 

 

But part of me wants to see if I can get my “gymnast body” back. I was a beast back in my competing days- as most gymnasts are. We only “ran” once a week and it was on Mondays- we’d run 1 mile. Everything else was pushing the anaerobic threshold- things that generally don’t last more than 60 seconds and things that don’t require the use of oxygen to break down energy for the muscles. Things like sprints (running towards the vault, running for our floor routine), things like lifting weights, and doing all of our other body-weighted exercises. Also, we were teenagers and ate what we wanted and it didn’t matter. AM I SERIOUSLY THAT OLD ALREADY WHERE MY BODY CAN’T HANDLE WHATEVER I WANT TO EAT? Yeah. I feel like that happened awhile ago. Either my body SUCKS & HATES me OR it’s only going to get worse and I have something coming– oh man.

ANYWAY. I kind of want to see where that could get me- ditching the cardio and just trying to be a beast again. But then I thought about having to give up running and I want to say no! I feel like I’ve worked so hard to be able to run for 2+ hours at a time. Maybe it’ll be fun to regress and then get myself back there again- but I’m gonna go with a big, fat NO. That’s like saying: “I’m going to gain weight so I can lose it again- FOR FUN!” Who would do that? Do you know how hard it’s been for me to become a “runner?” Really fucking hard. But that’s just me. I’m not a natural, born runner and every time I run, my body reminds me that I’m not made for it- and I push right back and prove it wrong. I haul ass on the damn treadmill at 6.5 and the bitch next to me is TROTTING AT A 9. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!

I come back from a long run being like “yeah, I just did that. SEE, SHORT LEGS! WE JUST FUCKING DID THAT!” One of the lesser feelings in life is struggling with a distance that you thought you conquered. Like when I set out for a “shorter” run of 5 miles and just SUCK ASS at it. Like my 7k. really? REALLY, BODY, REALLY?

So to walk away from running, to just set it down and leave it be for a little bit SCARES ME. To have to suck wind again and feel my lungs burn after 3 miles? The possibility of retraining my shins to not IGNITE AND BURN WITH THE FIRE OF ONE THOUSAND SUNS at the hint of a hill or 1+ miles- absolutely terrifying. 

Ultimately, it’s up to me. What do I want more? I’ve come to find such a passion for the world of running. Talking about distances and splits and hills and the weather and shoes and inserts and socks and blisters and having other non-runners listen-in and think you’re bat-shit crazy because they have NO IDEA what you’re talking about- or hear you say “yeah, that’s 3.5 miles away from here” and they respond with “yeah, that’s quite a hike” and you just shake your head and continue explaining your 11mile route to someone else who’s training & THEY GET IT- nothing like it.

I want to do CrossFit. I feel like CrossFit is the closest thing to a gymnast workout as you can get without deciding to be a washed-up has-been gymnast creep and going to your former gym to “train.”  Whether or not I “take a break” from running- I know I want to try CrossFit. I want to get my ass handed to me. I want to struggle with it and get better at it. There’s a 3x/wk membership option that I think would be the most feasible for me- especially if I continue to run. I can do both if I want to. I just have to prepare myself for the “lack of results” if I bust my ass in crossfit AND continue to run distance. I know some runners who took up CrossFit- and although they are FEELING improvements- they can lift more, do some of the lifts more easily- feel stronger, etc- but they haven’t actually seen any differences in their physique, hence the controversy between distance running & lifting.
There are few things I love more than a good workout. One that leaves you just the right amount of sore in all the right places- washing your hair, taking the stairs, and sitting down is a delicious reminder of the work you put in- and I know that’s what CrossFit will give me. That to me is worth the money- but I would also like the reassurance of a visible change. So maybe I’ll put running down for a month or so & see where that gets me?

 

The beautiful thing about running is that you don’t have to pay anyone to do it. I can decide to quit running for a day, a week, a month, a year- and just pick it right back up- no questions asked. Granted, my legs may be asking me all sorts of questions, mostly something like: “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING!?” but they’ve asked me that before.

 

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