Burning Runner: Comparing Opposite Approaches

T.J. compares his old training approach to his current CrossFit Endurance method of half-marathon training.

T.J. compares his old training approach to his current CrossFit Endurance method of half-marathon training.

Written by: T.J. Murphy

I’m starting off week three of a transition into Crossfit Endurance training, the Brian MacKenzie power-stamina-endurance model of preparation for long-distance running races. To give you a quick idea of how different the training is from the traditional program I’ve adhered to for the last 20 years, consider the following two workout plans for a common Monday:

Monday Training (what I typically used to do when I wasn’t injured):

Over the weekend I likely would have done a 2-hour long run, so Monday would be an easy 1-hour run with perhaps some light weight work. During the run I would have kept my HR between 130 and 150 beats per minute.

Monday Training Using CFE (this is what’s on tap for yesterday):

Over the weekend my key workout was this: 30-minute bike ride at 80-90% effort followed by a 2-mile run focusing solely on maintaining Pose method running form: strict posture and light activation of the core and hip muscles, a quick stride—keeping my left foot striking the pavement to the beat of a metronome set on 93 beeps per minute—very light, quick stride, minimal vertical oscillation, using the hamstrings to pull the foot up off the ground, foot striking directly beneath my centerline of gravity, and other specific Pose related technique pieces.

So yesterday (Monday): A “dynamic effort” session with a barbell set at 150 pounds, performing 3 deadlifts on the minute, every minute for 10 minutes. Following that will be a timed Crossfit WOD-like effort, with the barbell set at 125 pounds, performing 3 power cleans followed immediately by 7 pull-ups for a total of 7 rounds. I will also do some work on my “hollow rocks”—a specific core strengthening exercise MacKenzie preaches to runners and triathletes, and then the Kelly Starrett mobility workout of the day (

Today holds a bit of an adventure for me, as I’ll be in San Francisco to speak to the Golden Gate Triathlon Club. MacKenzie has suggested I go to a San Francisco Crossfit group workout, taught by Starrett himself. Stay tuned to see how it goes.


T.J. Murphy is the Editorial Director of Competitor Magazine. A 2:38 marathoner and five-time Ironman finisher, he is the former editorial director of Triathlete Magazine and Inside Triathlon. His writing has also appeared in Outside Magazine and Runner’s World.