Last week, Amy, the beautiful chiquita behind The Little Honey Bee, asked me for advice on how I balance running and CrossFit. She is one of my blogging soul mates, because like children, I can’t pick a favorite.
Finding a balance was something I truly struggled with, so when she came to me, I was more than ready to give her my story. Maybe some of you have similar struggles, so this is my place to shed some light into how I’ve found a happy balance with both running and CrossFit.
Way back when, I was spending time in Los Angeles (I won’t say living there because I only lasted 2 months), and quickly picked up running as my form of exercise since poor = no gym. When I came back home in March 2011, I spent my days running at the gym, which resulted in me creating an Excel spreadsheet tracking daily and weekly mileage, and keeping a running total of mileage per shoe.
I was looking for a full-time job, while working part-time at Target, so all of my free time I spent running… and running… and running. I started a running streak, and was so stubborn, that I ran 7+ months through a strained groin. You know what that feels like? Daggers in your va-jay-jay.
I was grossly worried that by taking a break from running meant no more cardio, and I’d get fat. There I said it. So I ran through dagvag. I kept the streak alive, and only broke it in March 2012 when I was traveling and couldn’t locate a gym. And then it started back up, and that is the running streak a lot of you are familiar with.
I then began CrossFit, and didn’t want to end it. Again, no cardio = fat gain. I am shaking my head at my old self right now. Da fuq was I thinking? Even on CrossFit days, I would make myself run 1-2 miles just to keep the streak alive. My body was run down, I wasn’t toning up. CrossFit and running but still fluffy? What gives?
Then I met Mike, my current nutrition coach, when my CrossFit coach Mat had him come speak to our CrossFit box about Paleo & CrossFit. He encouraged me to end the streak that week. My cortisol levels were out of whickity whack, and the lactic acid was overflowing in my body.
I ended the streak that week. I would run maybe every other day, with a CrossFit schedule of MWF, and running TuesThursSun. I was fine with that, perfectly happy.
I was eating Paleo, and on my non-running days, I didn’t feel heavy, and instead, I felt awesome. I didn’t miss my off-days, and rest days were a welcomed day in my life. Rest days of no workouts at all were amazing, and I felt great!
And then my love for CrossFit really changed, and I wanted to be at CrossFit every morning, and not on a treadmill running. I began 4 days of CrossFit, and maybe 2 days of running. I now go 3-4 days without running, and not only do I not miss it, but I feel light and toned, and pretty spectacular. Plus, I say this every day, but the people I spend my early mornings with, they are really some of my favorite people in my life.
Eating Paleo and clean, and taking proper rest days, has allowed my body to feel good. I don’t need all the extra cardio. I don’t feel like a tub of lard if I don’t run or don’t do cardio. It really is 85% nutrition. I learned the hard way, trust me. It took me years to be able to say that with 200% trust. I’m not trying to convince you of that. It’s something you have to realize on your own.
So how do I balance it?
Some days I really crave a run, and I will run if I’m not tired and my body isn’t sore. I typically shoot for CrossFit MWFSat, but, if I see that Thursday’s workout is something I really want to do, then I will alter my schedule and plan my run for a different day.
I really love running when I run. Weekday runs at the gym are focused on HIIT. 1 mile warm-up and 2 miles of sprints of varying speeds. This benefits my CrossFit performance. Sunday will be a run around my neighborhood, and that’s for fun. No sprints. I go at my own pace. I enjoy the views, the fresh air, and my feet pounding tar.
I’ve clearly changed in more ways than one since I started Running on Peanut Butter, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My focus has changed, and change is important.
How do you balance your favorite forms of exercise?