Crossfit Meets Ironman: Dancing with the Devil
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
If you know me, you know that I live my life as an n=1 experiment. I will never ask a client or athlete to do something I have not done myself. This past winter I decided to put myself through an endurance athlete Cross Fit experiment. I wanted to see if I could maintain 3 x weekly Cross Fit workouts in conjunction with a base building triathlon-training schedule and what would the crossover look like.
When researching my spot I looked no further than my backyard, Cross Fit Revel. I have known Julie Migliaccio for a couple of years, we share a few clients sand she has a reputation of being one o
f the most bad ass women in the industry. On top of that she is a wonderful person and we both have a tremendous respect for the others very opposite athletic abilities! She is a powerhouse! Jay Ross also came highly recommended to me and so I started out with my 3 1-on-1 foundation sessions with him to teach me the basics before starting class. Jay was absolutely phenomenal, a total expert, and despite having 10 years in the fitness industry, he still managed to teach me things and work on perfecting form and engaging correctly. Every coach needs a coach!
The classes were awesome. All the coaches are top notch, extremely experienced and did a tremendous job providing individual attention despite it being a class setting. The way the workout is planned (which most people including myself are not aware of) is a warm-up followed by some skill and then the WOD or workout of the day. During the skill section there is a great amount of individual attention and the coaches are really working with you to ensure that you are executing correctly and pushing yourself beyond what you think you are capable of.
The WOD is where the magic happens. Jay does an outstanding job of programming the classes so there is variety throughout the week and hitting various energy systems. I found the workouts I really excelled in where the 20 minute as many rounds as possible or the long continuous sets. The hardest days for me were the short sharp bursts but this is where I really gained some mental and physical fitness. If I can do a 1-minute on the Air Dyne (think a bike plus handles….ouch) after 20 wall balls, I can do a 5-minute threshold repeat on my TT bike easily. These short, give it your all, no holds workouts taught me so much about digging a little bit deeper. As endurance athletes we are so trained to save some gas in the tank, always working on pacing and putting out an even output. Cross Fit taught me to find that extra notch which served really well in some indoor time trials and triathlons over the winter.
I transitioned from Cross Fit back to strength in the gym when my swim/bike/run training took a priority. I swapped Wall Balls and heavy Deadlifts for low cadence work on the bike and paddles in the pool. But, stronger than ever. Since biking and swimming are strength sports this is where I saw the biggest gains. Jay and I have spoken many times about our shared philosophy: training is not exercising, in order to get better or fitter your need to periodize and program your workouts. Integrating Cross Fit into Ironman training is a perfect example of that. Train unspecific far from race day, then take that fitness into race specificity.