How CrossFit Will Make You Run Faster 5Ks

It’s only been 7 weeks since I started working out at my local CrossFit gym, West London CrossFit. I’m already feeling and looking different even after this short amount of time.

But I wasn’t prepared to see how much of a better runner I’m becoming.In the weeks prior to my start at CrossFit, I was running a 5K circuit around my neighbourhood at a pace of about 7’25” per kilometre. This meant I was running the 5k circuit in about 37′. I also have to say that running was a struggle: my knees would hurt, I would run out of breath, and arrive back home an achy messy puddle of sweat.

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My last run before I started CrossFit

Now, a mere 7 weeks later, I am running at a pace of 5’55” per kilometre, and just did the 5K circuit around the neighbourhood in 29’35”.

This is an improvement of about 20%. In just 7 weeks.

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A run after 7 weeks of CrossFit

How is that possible?

Here are 6 contributing factors to this jump in performance:

1. My legs are stronger

There’s a lot of squatting in CrossFit. A lot.  Here’s an example of the squatting that we do on a regular basis:

We also do back squats, wall balls, double-unders, bear crawls, box jumps, and a number of other workouts that will activate your leg muscles.

My legs have thickened and gotten a lot stronger. In fact, my thigh circumference went from 20″ to 22.75″ in these seven weeks.

Needless to say, if your legs are stronger, running is easier.

2. I’m better at cardio

At every CrossFit workout, there is a cardio or METCON (metabolic conditioning) session. This is another name for cardio, but a little more aggressive than your regular spinning class.

Here’s an example:

Now, imagine doing this on average 4-5 days per week. This will definitely improve your metabolic condition, which will make running easier and faster.

3. I strategize better

Part of every CrossFit session, at least for me, involves thinking and pacing myself so I am still alive at the end 🙂

This has trained me to think about pace, when to push myself, when to take it easier, etc.

When running 5K around the neighbourhood, this planning mindset really helps.  I’m more aware of hills, if I’m really tired or potentially hurting, and I’m a lot better at planning and strategizing so I keep a decent pace throughout and end it on a strong note.

4. I’m lighter

Though at first I actually gained weight, eventually the pounds started to shed. I’ve lost about 5.6lb since I started training, which combined with stronger legs and a better heart, makes running a lot less strenuous.

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5. My mind game is much better

I’ll tell you what: CrossFit is hard. It wears me down to the ground every single time.

Being broken down to a puddle of mush and sweat every weekday teaches you a lot about yourself. I have learned about my limits, about my motivations, and most of all, about amazing things my body can do.

In the middle of a run, when I’m feeling a bit out of breath, that is now a familiar feeling. I know how to deal with it. If my joints are hurting and I’m about to injure myself, I also know how to recognize it so I can stop.

For the 30 minutes that it takes me to run 5K, I am 100% in touch with my body and with what’s happening to it.  As a result, I am more confident and am able to keep a more steady pace.

Knowing yourself will help you not only in fitness and running, but in all aspects of your life.

6. Running 5K is easy in comparison

Before CrossFit, running 5K was the hardest physical activity I would do.

Now, on an average of 4-5 CrossFit workouts that test the limits of my physical fitness every week, if I go for a jog on a Friday, it’s literally a walk in the park.

Running for 30 minutes is easy compared to CrossFit.

The 5K I run last Friday was so easy, I did it at night, after the kids went down, and I leisurely listened to an audiobook along the way. And yet, it was my fastest 5K ever.

These are some of the ways CrossFit will improve your running game.  Give it a try.

And if you’re in London, Ontario, Canada, come work out with me at the West London CrossFit.