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    As of today, I have finished many half-marathons and trail half-marathons, climbed mountains and ran a marathon, and I'm currently training for another marathon and various obstacle races. What made this possible? CrossFit.

    Before you click away, hear me out. I'm not going to try to sell everyone on CrossFit because it doesn't work for everyone. I am going to share why it works for me. In the three years I've been combining running with CrossFit, I have not had one injury. My previous injury was a severe case of ITBS, or illiotibial band syndrome, which led to hip problems. I went from crying tears of relief over three miles to more tears crossing a finish line at 26.2 miles. So what is so magical about CrossFit?

    1. CrossFit is serious cross-training. CrossFit is based around improving 10 basic physical skills: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Participants work to improve these skills through weight-lifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. Good trainers spend a great deal of time each week making sure the workouts for the next week are balanced in all of these things. Looking through that list of 10 skills, which ones do not improve running?

    2. CrossFit incorporates functional flexibility. The age-old question: Should I stretch before or after running? That has nothing to do with CrossFit's flexibility training, which is actually mobility training. The iron-rod backbone of all CrossFit is functional fitness, and that includes skill work designed to improve range of motion for functional behaviors. In my own experience, this has been crucial to my running success. Oh, and to answer the question, I do not advise static stretching before a run. Stretching ligaments, tendons and muscles before loading them with repetitive weight-bearing impact movement is not a good idea. Dynamic stretching is a better option. Again, this is just my personal experience.

    3. CrossFit demands mental stamina. This is what allowed me to finish a marathon without hitting a huge wall. Yes, most CrossFit workouts are less than 30 minutes. Include 3 to 4 CrossFit workouts a week, and the mental discipline has nowhere to go but up. All runners know that mental stamina can be the difference between a DNF and a triumphant finish.
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