February 19, 2014

Repeats are neither novel nor sprints

Another note, regarding my visit to the track last night, which itself requires a preface, of sorts. This, already, is too much setup for a rather nothing post.


I returned to my gym, post-track, because I ran from there in the first place. Nominally, this was so I could do some general strength work. Really, though, it has as much to do with the fact that I live in a basement, thus it's cold when I get out of the shower, which is also in said basement. If, however, I shower at my gym, this can be avoided.

This is basically true. I will do an absurd amount of plank variation, weighted lunges, deadlifts, etc., in return for a warm shower exit. A great deal of my fitness is owed to picky showering habits.


Upon returning, and lifting, in rather deliberate fashion (I prefer to move rather slowly through my range of motion) I was asked where I had disappeared to for an hour and a half. I mentioned that I had run to a nearish track, did 400m repeats, then ran back.

Then, I was asked why I was doing crossfit, which prompted a response that I was not doing anything close, that crossfit didn't invent running hard, and anyway, that 400m repeats were not "sprints" in any true sense of the word.

He was... confused, a little, and I was confused as well, owing to our rather obvious disconnect.

He had apparently come by the notion that runners were a plodding mess of skinnyfat joggers, and that crossfit (crossfit endurance, specifically) offered a brave new approach, boldly asserting that, sometimes, you might want to go fast. Also, lift things.

This is a world which never knew Cerutty, apparently. A world in which Lawrence, KS (the very town in which I live, and this gym is situated) did not, through the decades, play host to Glen Cunningham, Wes Santee, and Jim Ryun (to keep it middle distance, and thus exclude Billy Mills, 10,000m Olympic gold medalist) - each of whom were forged by a diet that, by today's standards, would be considered far too focused on anaerobic work.

None of this is to say that Gym Guy ought to have thought differently. You know what you know, and basically nobody (even among some pretty serious runners I know) chooses to fill their head with knowledge about distance training methodologies, and the history thereof. I knew none of this myself, until I was tasked with writing a story about the Kansas Relays for the University newspaper, six or so years ago. Even then, it wasn't until I began hobyjogging myself - and subsequently reading every damn thing I could find - that I began to understand what "training" looked like, how it had progressed, varied by coach, era, etc.

In other words, very few people would (or should) understand the irony in asserting that crossfit invented "speedwork" for runners in a town where Bob Timmons coached.

That I do know that is not a value judgement, and neither is ignorance on the subject. It merely asserts that I'm a running nerd, who pays particular attention to local sporting history, because I find it interesting.

However, Brian Mackenzie - the crossfit endurance inventor/guru - either does know better, or should. Either way, his method, and the accompanying dogma, has become too-pervasive "common knowledge" among fitness hobbyists. And it's the worst kind of knowledge - the kind that's actually quite incorrect.

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