Juggling CrossFit and Running

I have a confession to make.  I have a really hard time being bored.  I’m also not very good at relaxing.  This can be frustrating for my husband, who is a normal person that likes having downtime.  Instead, I like to chase big crazy, fitness goals.  But loving two sports, I have to be honest, can be challenging. Especially with sports as demanding as CrossFit and running.

I don’t think I could ever really pick between the two, though.  They each have so many benefits and have made me a stronger, more fulfilled person in very different ways.  So, because I haven’t figured out how to stop or create more time, I’ve had to make semi-intelligent decisions when it comes to budgeting my time when I create CrossFit and marathon training plans for myself, and my clients.  So here’s what’s helped me over the past few years.

CrossFit and running - crossfit deadlift

Related Post: Lessons Learned From a Decade of Working Out

Balancing CrossFit and Running

Align Training with Focused Goals

Everything starts with a goal right?  While I know I can gain strength and endurance simultaneously, because I have in the past, I also know that I am not an actual super-hero.  I have a finite amount of time, energy, and motivation.  So, I generally try to pick one big goal to go after, and plan out my training to be in line with that goal.

When I am training for a PR in the marathon, I’m probably not going to also sign up for some sort of serious CrossFit competition or try to add 35# to my 1 rep max on my back squat.  That doesn’t mean I don’t put effort into every workout I complete, and it doesn’t mean that I haven’t occasionally PR’d a lift while I’m marathon training.  It does mean I don’t work myself into an early grave trying to do all the things at the same time.

crossfit and running - treadmill running

Simultaneously, if I’m not training for a big race, I use the extra time in my schedule to try to improve on something CrossFit-related.  Like that bar muscle up I’ve been trying to get good at for the last two years (clearly killing it here).  Instead of using 75% of my energy on training runs, I decrease my weekly mileage, and give myself a little more time in the box.

Basically, I’ve gotten better at checking my ego over the past few years, and recognizing that as much as it pains me to admit, I do have limitations.  I can either accept that reality and make smart adjustments, or I can rebel against them and treat my body like crap.  For the most part, I do the first one.

Map Out Your Hard Workouts

So, if you are invested in two different sports, each of which requires about 3 days a week to maintain fitness levels, how do you make time for both?  Well, simply put, on some days you’re going to have to workout twice Trust me, it won’t kill you.  You just need to eat a little more and be prepared for some extra laundry.

But having running and CrossFit workouts on the same day means that you need to make good decisions when it comes to scheduling your hard workouts.  Some people prefer to double up their workouts with one hard and one easy.  Others prefer to double up workouts that are less demanding.  There’s pro’s and cons for both methods.  What I think is important to be willing to play with your schedule until you find what works for you.

crossfit and running - tempo running

I have no issue doing a CrossFit WOD on the same day as a hard track workout.  I generally don’t do anything super heavy legwise, and it doesn’t feel like overkill for me.  The same is not true on tempo run days.  Tempo runs wreck me almost every single time, leave my stomach a little upset for the rest of the day, and take up all of my energy (and a little bit of my soul).  So I don’t plan on doing CrossFit WODs on my tempo days.

My recommendation is to decide whether or not you want your hard workouts to be the only thing you have to focus on for the day, and then schedule your hard workouts inline with that preference.  Schedule everything else around your harder, key workouts, and then be willing to drop the less important workouts should your schedule dictate the need.

Take Care Of Your Body

Scheduling workouts and making time to get the work in isn’t the hardest part of being a dual-athlete.  Honestly, what I have struggled the most is making sure that on top of all my workouts, I am still taking care of my body.  It’s really hard to motivate myself to get on the floor and foam roll for 15 minutes when I’m struggling to get up off the couch.  But that’s exactly when I need it the most.

crossfit and running - stretching

If you’re going to ask your body to perform regularly, you have to take care of that same body.  As annoying as it may be when all you want to do is snack and sleep.  But, in order to prevent injury and overtraining, it’s just non-negotiable.  Here’s what I try to focus on.

Making sure that I include at least 15 minutes of core work 3x a week, every week.  I don’t include the random ab movements I do in CrossFit like toes-to-bar, because I don’t think it’s focused work.  I also don’t think I get the same benefit.  So on top of the running and CrossFitting, I also squeeze in my core work.  It helps me get it done while if I’m doing something else I enjoy, like watching tv or listening to a podcast.  My attention and focus is somewhat split, but it’s better than skipping the core work all together.

crossfit and running - core workout

I also have to make sure that I am fueling appropriately for all of this work.  I shared in my Running Nutrition post that I’ve found it helpful to track what I eat to make sure I am eating enough.  Which can be surprisingly difficult when you have fairly high caloric needs.  Not the worst problem in the world, though.  I also have to make sure I am drinking enough water, otherwise my stomach goes south super-fast and I end up with calf cramps at 2 am.  Always a fun experience.

Finally, just like I schedule my work week and my workouts, I also make sure that I am scheduling some time for recovery.  In high mileage weeks, I make sure to keep my lunch hours clear so that I can catch a nap if I need to.  I don’t let myself leave the box until I’ve spent 10 minutes foam rolling.  I make sure I always have epsom salt on hand for epsom soaks.  Recovery needs to be prioritized just as much as training.

crossfit and running - nutrition
Little meal prep helps

Juggling both running and CrossFit, or any two sports really, can add a lot of variety and injury prevention.  CrossFit can also make you a faster runner, while running can improve your endurance as an athlete.  Even if you haven’t figured out how to expand time,  you can absolutely make time to pursue two different sports. 

It can require some forethought and planning, but it’s far from impossible. Having a coach that understands both sports can be really helpful when it comes to making sure you are working towards your goals, and not just working yourself into the ground. If you’re interested in coaching, or have questions about what a coaching relationship would look like, please reach out to me through my Contact Me.  And let me know, are you a dual athlete, or are you a more reasonable human being than I?  If not, share with me how you’ve juggled loving two sports.  I’m always looking for more tips!

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