Crossfit’s Running Shame
Guest Article by Tim Bransdon of TheRunningLab, upcoming guest on the The Mind Muscle Project
Along with the air squat, running is the most natural movement in a Crossfit athlete’s arsenal. So why do so many functional fitness advocates make a beeline for the rower or Airdyne as soon as the word running appears in the WOD? Or worse yet, why do daily attendances at a box decrease proportionately to the amount of running in the daily WOD?
At what point in our active lives did running become so scary?
After 13 years treating broken down humans in my podiatry clinic and human performance lab, I have concluded that the answer lies somewhere amongst the destructive coffins (a.k.a. shoes) we have incarcerated our feet in most of our lives and the life-sapping chairs we mould our butts into for the majority of our waking hours. Modern footwear and sitting are the only reasons I have a job as a podiatrist.
The power of marketing and ill directed professional advice find most running advocates relentlessly searching for the magical shoe that will solve and prevent their constant barrage of injuries – 82% of runners get injured every year, nearly all of which is preventable. Whilst there are many health professionals who love to rag on Crossfit for “causing” injuries, I can assure you I have not witnessed injury rates this high in any box I have been involved with. At risk of getting too far off topic, if your health professional is of the opinion that Crossfit causes injuries, ask them if they treat more Crossfit athletes than weak, lazy, overweight people? Better yet, find another practitioner.
Following the “magic shoe” logic from above, I would be better off wearing some personally signed Camille booty shorts, strapping my wrists with Donny Shankle duct tape, constructing a headband out of Matt Fraser’s chest hair and drinking Rich Froning’s sweat to improve my snatch rather than learning and drilling the mechanics of the lift.
The Running Lab is on a mission to change the negative affliction to running in the Crossfit community. The debate on the best way to run, which part of your foot to strike the ground with, and what the best running shoes are will rage on forever and a day; but running is actually way less complicated than these debates.
Efficient running comes down to mobility, strength, posture, position and skilled movement achieved through drills. These are the exact same components required for almost all Crossfit movements, yet seldom implemented when it comes to running.
The running technique of most Crossfit athletes is the equivalent of squatting with a rounded back, knees and ankles caved in, whilst someone assaults your shins with a crow bar.
The Running Lab aims to teach people how to reverse the damage sitting and footwear have caused their mobility; educate about The 7 Deadly Sins of Modern Footwear (free e-book download from www.therunninglab.com); make athletes understand that, in respect to strength and posture, it is the 23 hours each day they are not training that contributes to most of their injuries.
Making permanent change with our mobility and postural dysfunctions takes dedication and time but the rewards are forever. Modifying the footwear you wear on a daily basis is simple in theory. All you need is to adhere to four main principles – light, flat, flexible and the shape of the human foot. This becomes complicated when you realise nearly all shoes made do not adhere to these principles; and that is before you take into account specific work and school requirements.
Once you improve your mobility, footwear choices, strength and posture, developing efficient running technique through drills becomes easy.
The Running Lab uses a structured program of drills that build on one another over a 6-week period to simplify the skill of running. When used correctly, and in the correct sequence, I have never witnessed anybody not improve their running efficiency immensely.
Like any movement, efficiency with running equates to less injuries, more enjoyment and better performance.