Author: Ryan Tibball, Director of CrossFit 817 Endurance
I have been an athlete ever since childhood. I participated in soccer, track, water polo, swimming and cross-country and loved being active. Unfortunately with continued lifelong activity and sports, your body sometimes does not cooperate. After having knee surgery for a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus playing indoor soccer five years ago, I decided it was time to move on to a new sport. After healing from surgery, I discovered my passion for triathlons, running, and shortly thereafter found Crossfit. Now at the age of 41, I continue to enjoy staying active and challenge myself physically and mentally yet while becoming stronger and faster. Between both sports, I have seen the benefit in my success as an athlete and decided I wanted to share my passion with others. I now am the Director of Endurance at CrossFit 817 by teaching the Pose method of running in my endurance camps as well as coach both general CrossFit classes.
Other than participating in 5k, 10k, half marathon races and various triathlon distances, the accomplishment I’m most proud of is completing the IRONMAN in the fall of 2011. To prepare for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run, I trained unconventionally in the eyes of a typical triathlete. My primary method of training was CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance with some running, swimming and biking in between. It is obvious to those when they see me with all my IRONMAN gear, stickers, clothing and tattoo that I am very proud of this challenge!
Does CrossFit work for Endurance training?
When I am asked if CrossFit really does work for endurance training, there is no hesitation on saying ABSOLUTELY! Being a CrossFit coach and athlete myself, It’s very rewarding to see my athletes in camp and others from my CrossFit box PR on races! I too, continue to PR in races and am excited that even in my 40’s I can beat an old record from when I was younger.
The detailed answer is variable depending on the event you are training for. Some people view a 5k as an endurance event, while others believe anything short of a Marathon is not. As a coach, I have found the longer the event the more detailed and personalized your training must be. There is plenty of proven science out there talking about intensity training in the form of intervals, tempo and race pace style workouts for the runner and triathlete to build your endurance and stamina.
When I trained for my IRONMAN, my training consisted of CrossFit 3-5 days a week along with a sport specific (swim, bike and run) workout once or twice a week per discipline. This is far and away distinctly different from traditional training for any endurance event.
For example, many times a serious runner trains 3-5 days a week and routinely finds him/herself with an injury. He/she may also find the payout is minimal compared to the amount of time spent pounding the pavement at LSD paces (Long Slow Distances). Where is the strength training in all this LSD? You ask any runner, most will tell you they don’t weight train, don’t do core work and eat processed foods to get their “Carb load”. However, just as a car runs better with a bigger engine, remember your body will too by adding in some strength components. This is why CrossFit works for the endurance athlete because you cover all areas of fitness. Not just one domain.
I’m 40, so now what?
Success in the endurance world as a 40-year old athlete depends on you. Make the time and listen to your body! Nutrition, mobility, rest, relaxation, exercise/training and balance of life are the keys as an athlete, especially an endurance athlete.
Being in your 40’s does not equal disadvantage nor should it be an excuse. Getting older is a fact and is inevitable however if we listen to our bodies and train smarter, I believe you can continue to excel in your physical fitness goals. We are the only ones who set limitations on ourselves. We only live once so if you have the goal, then it’s never too late to start on the path.
Half Marathon – 1:32:56
Half IRONMAN- 5:34:40
Good read. I come from a similar background. I am 44 years old, but have not competed in a triathlon since 09. Prior to that I completed 4 Ironmans in less than 2.5 years. Today I Crossfit 5-6 days/week and am on our Affilate team. I mix in some interval and tempo runs, but not much distance. I just completed the Pat Tillman last weekend and was able to hold a 6:51 pace for the 4.2 miler. Just more evidence that there is carry over fitness that can help you compete in all disciplines. Keep up the good work.
Hi Gary, its great to hear other Triathletes and Runners exploring CrossFit as a mode for training! Keep up the great work! That is a solid run for your 4.2 miler. Keep spreading the word to Endurance athletes….they will come around one day and realize what they are missing :-).