I have been Crossfitting for over a year now. I've dropped a net of around 35 lb., but in there is a significant lean mass gain (15-20 lb. at least) because I went from over 40% body fat to somehwere around 27% currently.
I've done paleo-style clean eating for much of the year and have put on muscle and gained strength nicely - I'm a 5'6" 180/185-ish lb. woman (135 lb. or so lean mass) who can now deadlift 255, front squat 190, etc.
I just ran my first road race - a 5k. It went well, but I was still annoyed to find my legs pooping out on uphill stretches. My overall time was a hair over 33 minutes, so I was averaging roughly 11 minute miles.
So, why has my strength stuff done decently, but my running stuff stayed mostly the same?
I'm curious: Is a body type that "easily" (with training and eating right) adds muscle mass also a body type that does not naturally earn parallel gains in running speed and endurance?
You didn't mention how you are training as far as running goes, you have to train for running by running.
Then add to that you have to train to run faster by running faster.
I have a two pronged answer.
Prong 1: Don't be discouraged, you've come a great long way and made some incredible improvements to your body and health, don't let a silly 5k detract from that! Celebrate the distance you've covered. There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep improving but I couldn't help but get the scent of discouragement in your original post. A positive mental attitude while training cannot be undervalued.
Prong 2: A 33 minute 5k for a beginner (you've said it was your first road race) is not that bad. Crossfit has so many facets that it's hard to see measurable gains in all of them all at once. For as much strength as you've gained therefore, it does not surprise me that running has lagged behind a bit. I share a similar experience with running. As far as improving I have two suggestions, the first is to take a look at your running form, there is much to be said about being efficient while running; there is a woman at our box who looks like she is running 6 minute miles but actually ends up running something closer to 9 minutes, she's working much harder than she needs to be. Youtube Running Correction Take a look at this video posted by HQ, though his problems might not be your problems, taping yourself running and slowing it down is a great way to notice inefficiencies. I do the same for my Olympic lifts. Finally, take a look at CrossFit Endurance and maybe try incorporating an endurance WOD once a week.
Hope that helps!
I think your math is a little off. If you started at 215lbs (current weight 180 + 35 lbs net loss), and loss 35 lbs while gaining 15 lbs lean mass that would equate to a total of 50 lbs of fat loss. That would put you at 20% BF not 27%. Although that is not really the point of this post.
Significant gains in musculature equate to slower performance in endurance, look at Mo Farah's body. If you are trying to improve your 5k time then I would quit the crossfit, and put in a twice a week, compound functional strength program that maxes out in the 2-3 rep range. Then I would put in 5 days of running with 2 training days, 2 recovery days, and 1 long run.
Deadlifts/squats/etc do not help power you up hill -- runners use these lifts to improve pacing and reduce injuries.
I heard about genetic testing to determine whether a person is good at strength and power or speed and endurance. You definitely sound more like a strength and power person based on your training preference and 5k times. A 5k is a sprint and 11 minutes is pretty slow, especially on a flat course. I think you'd probably have to decide what kind of athlete you want to be and train towards that end result. I'm a runner, I know that the crossfit is a recipe for injury when it comes to my training, but I see the power guys at my gym and I know that we are two different types of body types, for sure. I think genetic testing for physical attributes and output somewhat problematic, especially when used on children but it is interesting. I wrote a play about it, and here is the link I used for my research. http://www.atlasgene.com/
Enjoy what you do!
Crossfit Journal recently had some videos with Nicholas Romanov trying to teach a training method called 'Pose' to a heavily muscled crossfit athlete. Kind of awkward videos got me thinking about the difference between the lessons of distance running and crossfit.
One aspect of 'Pose' should be very easy to understand for a crossfit athlete who knows that olympic lifts are all about efficient posture beneath the bar. This is the concept of posture, balancing your weight over your bones and joints rather than holding yourself in a posture with muscular tension.
The big learning curve seems to be related to the Pose idea that any muscular contraction which doesn't move you foward, interferes with foward motion. So, there is always some core engagement, but you'll have a lot of habitual muscular tension while sprinting that works against you. Running faster should always mean running 'easier', using fewer muscles and more relaxed focus.
Crossfit doesn't encourage you to run far. Running efficiency is not about intensity. The best way to learn to let go of non-productive muscular tension and find your most efficient posture is to run for longer distances in the woods at slower pace. Focus on efficient breath and posture will strip away the muscular tensions that become more evident the longer your run.
Running faster is not about pounding pavement harder, it requires an almost silent footstrike and efficient turnover with a relaxed foot. Mountain trails or any non-paved surface requires a relaxed foot ready to adapt to the uneven surface. The woods distract and relax you, until you fantasize about predatory cats or Freddy Krueger and that's just a bonus adrenaline to make the next mile go by faster. You get tired after the adrenaline rush, and once more must focus on deep breathing and moving foward using less muscular energy.
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