CrossFit Endurance Format Change…

I’m writing this post to address some of the questions, comments, and issues I’ve seen over the past few months that I’ve spent programming the CrossFit Endurance website. I’m going to talk about the new format/changes you are seeing as of today on the CFE page. I’m also going to post some opinions on training and other stuff. These opinions are mine and mine alone. If you want the official CrossFit Endurance stance on anything I say then you’ll have to come see me at a seminar!

I took over the programming and posting of workouts on the CFE page on October 1st. I’m also the dude responsible for the pictures and links that go up on the site so if you’ve got something you want to share with the CFE community you need to get a hold of me!

Over that time our community has grown significantly due to a couple of factors:

Number 1: CrossFit is growing in recognition and popularity and

Number 2: The CrossFit Endurance community has grow significantly with the release of Brian MacKenzie’s new book, Power Speed Endurance (affiliate link).

New people bring new questions and new confusion. This post should help clarify some of those points for the newbie and be a refresher for those that have been around a while.

Now on with the show…

Raise your hand if you’ve heard someone say “CrossFit is stupid” or “CrossFit is dangerous”. Now keep your hand up if that person has actually tried CrossFit for longer than a week. Good. Now keep your hand up if they had tried CrossFit for longer than a week at a CrossFit affiliate. Okay. Now keep your hand up if that person has tried CrossFit, for longer than a week, at a CrossFit Affiliate, under the direction of an experienced CrossFit coach. Not many hands left up eh?

So what’s your point?

The point here is this: You can do this wrong. If you aren’t following the program as designed then your CrossFit results will be sub-optimal. The most vocal people who speak out against CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance are those who have either never done it or have never done it correctly. If you need a refresher on how this stuff works check out this post.

If you’ve been to the CrossFit Endurance website at anytime since May 30th of 2011 you’ll notice that we post a Strength WOD three times per week, a CrossFit WOD on a 3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off schedule, and various endurance workouts, depending on your sport, in a Short Interval, Long Interval, Tempo/Time Trial format. Unfortunately if you scroll through the comments you’ll notice that there is a lot of variation in what people are actually doing. I’m okay with this for the simple fact that you people have real lives! So what does this mean? It means that the WOD(s) that are posted each day are a guide, or a template, for how to find success using the CrossFit Endurance methodology. This template is not all inclusive! Our daily post does not state that your perform mobility work, although it is my opinion that your should. Our daily posts does not state that you perform a proper warmup or cool down, again I think you should. We also don’t tell you to be nice to others and wash your ass but again, my opinion, I think you should do both of these as well. The list of things you should be doing to optimize your training is near endless. Some things you’re just gonna have to figure out on your own. Cool?

With that being said…

We here at CrossFit Endurance feel that it would be beneficial to you (and all the new kids from here on out) to explicitly tell you that you should be performing a significant amount of skill work prior to your endurance workouts. Just like most CrossFit affiliates make you perform the Burgener Warm-Up prior to a Olympic biased WOD we want you to perform the skills and drills necessary to maintain that technique we all should be focusing on. So… What you haven’t seen posted in the past, that you will see posted from today forward, is “Skills and Drills”. Prior to each and every endurance WOD you partake in you should be spending a good 20-45 minutes going through the skills related to the WOD. You’ll be able to find these drills all over the inter-webs but I suggest you browse around the CrossFit Endurance site and check out the resources, demonstrations, FAQ, 6-week homework you received at a CFE seminar, etc. The foundation of safe, effective, efficient training is proper mechanics and proper technique. Without it you may still get by uninjured but your training will be sub-optimal.

Now let’s dispel some “Traditional Endurance Training” v. CFE myths!

We have heard over and over and over and over and over again that our program is crap because there is no way that someone can train for an endurance event without ever “going long”. The first thing I ask these naysayers is “Have you tried?” But I digress… The long slow distance (LSD) traditional training methodology works. I don’t think anyone is saying that it doesn’t. What I am saying is that it is sub-optimal. How do I know this? I know that because I’ve heard from thousands of people who did something incredibly radical, including myself. They shut their mouths, they stopped whining about how it will never work and they just gave it a shot! Gasp! Crazy huh? Some people actually just tried this stuff and saw their times drop, their injuries go away, and their overall health improve. Don’t take my word for it, look through the comments on the site and the forum.

So is it your stance that long distance runs are unnecessary?

Nope, sure isn’t. I am saying that the volume and intensity of your workouts should be decided by one single factor. Your ability to maintain technique and mechanics. Period. If you can run 100x400m repeats with perfect technique hold your interval times steady then that is probably what you should be doing, if it supports your goals.

What you will see from today forward on the CrossFit Endurance site each day are workouts posted as before, but we aren’t going to put a minimum or maximum on the total number of intervals.

Instead of seeing this: Run (TUE): 4-6 x 400m, recover 2:00, maintain efforts within 3-5 seconds

You’ll now see this: Run (TUE): Repeat 400m, recover 2:00, until form/pace deteriorates (3-5 seconds).

Your job will be to perform the endurance workout as posted (S-INT and L-INT) for as many intervals as you can before the wheels fall off. When you fail to keep your times within the given window (i.e. maintain efforts within 2-3 sec) and/or your technique breaks down then the workout, for you, is over. This could be 2 intervals, it could be 200 intervals. If you can maintain it as we teach it and post it then have at it. Your job is to focus on high quality training, not high quantity training.

Let’s wrap this up

So the key points here are:

  • I post WODs daily on the site.
  • I am not your mother. Which is to say: The daily post is not all inclusive. Make a better decision.
  • You should be performing skill work daily and always be improving your ability to move correctly.
  • We think this skill work point is important enough to post a daily reminder from today forward
  • Your training is your training and all men are not created equal. How much volume should you do? As much as you can handle without breaking down.
  • The CrossFit Endurance community and the CrossFit community rocks. Keep being awesome. We appreciate all of your support.
  • Have something to share with the community? Get in contact with me and I’ll get it posted on the site (I always need good pictures)!

Questions or comments are encouraged! Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

Still confused by this stuff or just looking for a coach to help you along the way? I’d be glad to help you make 2013 the year of the PR! I’m offering 10% off all coaching programs until the end of the month. Space is limited so send me a message now to lock in your spot.

Comments

  1. says

    Good deal! This is basically how I’ve been adapting & personalizing my CFE program for the past year. These are points are effectively how I’ve explained how to adapt the programming on the CFE site. This is good shit, PJ! Hopefully our athletes will be able to figure the paradigm of flexibility and stop seeing the CFE programming as rigid / as Rx’d only!

  2. Ethan says

    Interesting idea, but a little more structure would be helpful. If you’re not giving a fixed number of repeats or even a range (which I would greatly prefer) perhaps you could suggest an intensity level. For example, I could run 400s at 60% effort all day without much deterioration, but a handful of repeats at 99% of my max would cause a huge drop off in a short period. These scenarios both fit with the RX’d wod, but are totally different workouts.

    • PJ says

      Hey Ethan!
      Thanks for the comment. Suggested intensity level = high. What that means to you may be totally different than someone else so it is something you’ll have to test. What pace do you need to maximize average power across all intervals. If I wanted you running 400m repeats at 60% indefinitely then the site would just be called Endurance! :)

  3. Alan Pamayo says

    Interesting idea. I have often wondered if I sometimes performed too many intervals, or other times didn’t push myself because I could have squeezed out a few more painful intervals at the same pace.

    I have been doing CFE exclusively for almost 1.5 years. I made a two sport template for myself of running and rucking and was pleased to see rucking added to the sport list a while ago. For months (and maybe it was actually when you took over programming) I have wondered about two changes that were made to the programming … 1. The run intervals became the same for 1 or 3 sport athletes (this new programming change definitely addresses that) and 2. The ruck weights got heavier and stayed the same. Do you think since selection schools hover around these recent heavier weights it is beneficial to just go ahead and consistently stay at that weight to adapt to it or does going a little lighter but faster pay off as well? I will say that after several months of only using 70lbs, I got faster than I could have imagined with it and the weight became easier to manage on the body. But I definitely was not moving as fast as the varying weights we used to use.

    Thank you for all that you do for CFE and the community.

    • PJ says

      Hey Alan,

      Thanks for the comment. You are one of the few that consistently post on CFE and thanks for that as well!

      So for one I think you’ll see as you spend more time following the site is that there will be a constant evolution of what goes on there. As new ideas are tested we’ll keep what works, throw out what doesn’t, and in the end everyone will be better!

      RE: Ruck, I’ve done a couple things with the ruck WODs and honestly I’m testing some assumptions. One is that a heavier ruck in training, especially on Short Interval days, will make ruck on games day (whatever that is for you) suck less. Again, like with all this stuff I’d use the post as a guideline and adjust for you individual situation/abilities/goals.

      From talking to members in the community who are going to and/or have been to the various selection schools the tred that I’m seeing is managing recovery. Most show up ready to kick ass and do so for the first two weeks. The the struggle begins. I think the heavier, harder, more intense intervals, lower total volume (CFE protocol in general) is going to help with this. Helping make sure you guys don’t go into selection (or races) overtrained.

      I’d love more feedback from you on your rucking specifically. I’m working on some changes to our military specific stuff and would love to hear back from the community. So if you a chance please shoot me an email pj [at] 623sc [dot] com and let me know what you’ve been doing, what you’ve seen success with, and what you haven’t had success with!

      Thanks so much for being so active in our awesome community!

  4. Ethan says

    Fair enough, but what about reviving the old short course, long course, ultra recommendations as rough guidelines?

  5. says

    Thanks for the explanation…I was confused this morning. The change makes sense to me. I like the short course, long course and ultra. It’s how I modify the TT/T programming for our endurance athletes.

    I like this change because most of the athletes I coach are not “elite”, have terrible form (at first) and are looking to run a 5k for the first time. Placing emphasis on form, skills and drills makes it easier for someone new to CFE to understand the concept of running as a skill.

    Good work,
    Kalian

  6. Justin says

    Why can’t there be some kind of hybrid model? Something along the lines of:

    4-6 x 400m, recover 2:00, maintain efforts until form/pace deteriorates (3-5 seconds)

    One of the things that is so great about CrossFit & CrossFit Endurance is the scalability. By removing the rep scheme in the endurance workouts, I feel that you are removing a target that athletes can use to scale their workouts up or down from.

    I know that CFE is not my mother, but in many respects I do feel that it knows best. Having used CFE to train for marathons, I always felt that if I performed the workouts on the upper spectrum of the prescribed rep scheme (without sacrificing form, or going way beyond my personal limits) that I would be prepared come race day. Now by removing those goal rep schemes, I don’t know that I would have that same confidence.

    This also seems to be especially true for people who (like myself) do a large portion of their CFE training on their own. It is very difficult for an individual to be both athlete and coach. By including rep schemes in Endurance WODs, I always felt that CFE was serving the role of coach. It wasn’t hyper-personalized, but it provided a general goal to work towards. No I feel as if that goal has been removed.

    There have been plenty of workouts where I felt cooked after 3x400m sprints, for example. But because I knew that the prescribed workout called for 6 reps I was able to push myself (again, without sacrificing form) and finish the WOD. Now, as I try to become a better swimmer, I have no idea what kind of goal to set for myself for tomorrow’s swim workout (Repeat 50m on 1:00 until form/pace deteriorates). Would 2 reps be a good number? 10? 30?

    There is nothing wrong with having an outside coach/training program recommend goals. It happens across sports, and I don’t understand why CFE is walking away from this role.

  7. says

    Excellent idea to add the “skills & drills” descriptions. I also like the idea of doing reps until pace/form detoriates. For the latter, I would prefer to have additional “recommended number of reps”, though. For newbies, this would give a rough understanding of how many reps they should be able to perform.

  8. BMacK says

    As a general rule of thumb any interval work being done should total or max out around 12 minutes. That’s hard intensity… For a lot that would be like 400m on < 1:10 which if you could handle that and recover it would take you 9-10 400m repeats to max out 12 minutes. How many folks can handle that? Exactly! So if you're holding 1:30 that is 8 400m repeats, and do you have tha ability to handle that? Might require some work huh? Well, time to work and focus on the skill… This new format is giving power to the people, and making you understand you more. Start w/ 6 min total work if you think that's too much, or hey, maybe you can handle 12 min of hard ass work or beyond.

  9. Ethan says

    @BMacK

    I like the idea of prescribing a recommended “total work time” (i.e. 6-12+ mins for the 400m repeats). I assume with shorter stuff, 100m runs for example, the volume would be lower (12 mins of sprinting at a 100m pace would be impossible to recover from…) And more time for the longer intervals

    I’ve seen coaches in other sports use a variation of this idea. Climbing coaches will assign point values to certain bouldering grades and have an athlete accumulate a certain number of points during a workout. I’ve seen Charlie Francis recommend total distances that should be covered in tempo workouts (1600-2000m, granted that was for track sprinters so tempo has a different meaning, but the same idea applies). And I’ve had cycling coaches prescribe a set amount of time at certain heart rates/watts, and let the athlete decide how to accumulate the time at intensity (say 2 x 20 mins or 4 x 10 mins, if the goal was 40 mins of work).

  10. yobanec reyes says

    PJ,
    Just attended one of the CFE certs and it was phenomenal! One question I meant to ask and forgot: where should I start on the cfe endurance end? I’ve been doing variations of it but am recovering from hip surgery. But what would be a good spot to start from scratch in the programming?
    Yobi

    • PJ says

      Yobi!

      Thanks for coming out last weekend! First I would start with the 6 Weeks of homework that you should have received with the handout prior to the seminar. Let me know if you didn’t get it! After that, depending on how the hip is feeling, I would head back to the start of the “G cycle” on the site and pick it up from there… Cool?

  11. Mike says

    Is there a recommended progression in terms of weight and distance for the Ruck WODs, or do we just jump into the latest cycle?

    • PJ says

      Sorry for taking to so long to get back at ya Mike!

      Jump right in! BUT…

      I would say start on the lighter side (if possible) and progress up from there. Just like running, there is some technique to rucking that can make all the difference. The key is efficient movement!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] CrossFit Endurance recently made a change in their programming allowing for more flexibility for tho…  I appreciated the structure of the old programming (they used to post how many intervals to do), but I understand what they are doing.  Incorporating drills and skills work helps to develop better technique and allowing individuals to gauge how many intervals they can do doesn’t put too much pressure to accomplish a certain amount.  The focus should be on form not how deviating your form to accomplish a certain amount of reps. [...]

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