26.2 Miles of Crossfit: Using WODs to Improve your Marathon

Crossfit ‘Workout of the Day’ To Improve Marathon PR

Crossfit Workout For MarathonIf you’re even vaguely interested in fitness, chances are you’ve heard of Crossfit. Founded in 2000, Crossfit is a mix of Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and aerobic exercises, such as sprinting and erging, usually hosted in gyms affectionately known as “boxes.” The Crossfit headquarters provide a Workout of the Day, or WOD, which is the run for time at boxes around the country. These WODs usually have measures of performance, such as how fast they were completed or how many repetitions athletes were able to complete in a set period.

The marathon on the other hand needs no introduction. Widely recognized as one of the greatest athletic challenges available to runners the world over, including Antarctica. Long gone, however, are the days of separation between road and iron, as many people are dedicated to all aspects of their fitness, just as interested in being able to deadlift their bodyweight as run for 26.2 miles straight. How can you take advantage of the Crossfit community, all while making sure you cross the finish line come race day?

Pumpin’ Iron and Poundin’ Pavement

Before throwing yourself headfirst into running 40 miles a week and doing 2 WODs a day, you have to make a choice. Which comes first, running or lifting? Don’t get me wrong, marathon preparation can make you a better Crossfitter, and Crossfit can make you a better marathoner, but at the end of the day, one is going to have to be in the service of the other, and that will determine your training plan. 

To put it simply, if you want everyone to eat your dust on marathon day, prioritize your runs, and use Crossfit to eliminate muscular imbalances and improve strength and speed. If you want to run a marathon while focusing on your preparation for the Crossfit Games, use your extracurricular running to give you the aerobic endurance and recovery to crush your Crossfit WODs.

Tips for Crossfitting Marathoners


  • ·        Talk with your instructor about your goals; a good instructor will scale workouts or match workouts to where you are in your marathon training schedule.
  • ·        Use proper form. This applies to everyone, but with the added stress on your body, even the smallest mistake can have large consequences. Poor form could result in missing the race altogether if it leads to injury.
  • ·        Identify your weaknesses in your running form and use Crossfit to fix them. Slow going up hills? Kettlebell swings and sprints will give you that extra kick. Back squats and thrusters help with core and posterior chain strength, both of which will make you a better runner.
  • ·        Taper. Make Crossfit work for you by reducing your frequency and intensity of workouts before race day. There’s no reason to undo months of preparation because your box is running an inappropriate workout a week out of the race.
  • ·        Adjust your nutrition and rest. The increased stress on your body means that it needs more fuel and rest to recover properly. Get lots of protein, lots of vitamins, and lots of sleep; otherwise, you’ll start to find runs that were once easy are now much more difficult. Take advantage of foam rollers and other recovery tools available at your box to improve recovery.

26.2 miles of Barbell Thrusters for Time

You’re not satisfied by the WODs. You need more. You need to put on your running shows and run for 26.2 miles to say that you did it. As a Crossfitter, you should have some running experience. Marathons are rather unforgiving, however, so keep these tips in mind while you prepare.

  • ·        Ease into long distance runs. Your previous foundation may make you want to go out for 12 miles on your first day. Don’t do this. Find a marathon plan and incorporate it slowly over the course of a few weeks.
  • ·        Allow time for your body to adjust. You might find that your WOD scores are suffering as the mileage picks up. Don’t freak out and try to change everything, rather, you should give your body three to four weeks of time to adjust to the new stress.
  • ·        Double your warm-up and rehab time. Add in extra time for stretching, foam rolling and other recovery tools. These are your biggest allies in maintaining the dual regimen. Consider taking Epsom salt baths or ice baths to help with recovery.

There you have it! Don’t try to tough out any injuries or ignore the warning signs your body will send you before things go wrong. Follow these simple tips and you too can lord your superior fitness over us mere mortals.

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Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy website that encourages you to meet both your goals in marathon training and your financial goals.