Burning Runner: Daily Log, March 17, 2011

T.J. transitions from Long Slow Distance to Power, Speed and Endurance through the Crossfit Endurance method of training.

T.J. transitions from Long Slow Distance to Power, Speed and Endurance through the Crossfit Endurance method of training.

Written by: T.J. Murphy

I should mention that Brian MacKenzie is featured in the new Tim Ferriss book, “The 4 Hour Body,” in the chapter on how to run an ultramarathon. One of the principles Ferriss touts throughout the book is the “Minimum Effective Dose.” The MED is a key concept within Crossfit and key to how MacKenzie coaches runners and triathletes with Crossfit Endurance. The principle of the MED is that you should do the least amount of work to get the maximum result. In other words, if a 15-minute workout at a specific intensity is going to provide the desired training stimulus than going for an hour is reckless, a waste of time and perhaps even damaging. MacKenzie’s training–as you’ll see from the March 16 log–is very specific and the heart of it took me 25 minutes. There is no recovery or junk training at all. When lecturing about the CFE training program, MacKenzie places equal stress on a clean diet. Listening to him talk about the benefits of a clean diet and how it worked in tandem with CFE training got me to think about the oft repeated maxim (one that I’ve said many times myself over the years) “I run a lot so that I can eat a lot.” A lot of junk food, in fact. I was definitely guilty of that in my 20s and 30s. One thing I’m fascinated by with the CFE program is the respect it has for the entire metabolic-physiological picture. It’s all inclusive—biomechanics, power, balance, diet, recovery, mobility, stamina, skill, efficiency. When you open your mind to it’s hard to argue with the logic of such a holistic approach against the raw act of funnelling all training time into big mileage alone.

At any rate, this is Week 1 of what is essentially a 36-week 100% commitment to training the CFE way. If it’s one thing for sure it’s a different way than I’ve trained for a half marathon. By light years.


Strength: 3 clapping pushups on the minute for 12 minutes. (Doesn’t sound like much but wow am I sore). MacKenzie emphasizes over and over the importance of keeping the core muscles engaged and tight through this type of work. It’s about developing a chassis for running.

Crossfit: An AMRAP–As Many Rounds As Possible. It was a 10 minute AMRAP of 50 jumpropes, 10 lunges and 10 dumbbell shoulder presses, the only rest between exercises being the time to get from one to another. I completed 6 rounds in the 10-minute time frame.

MobilityWOD: Hip flexor and calf work plus time with my Trigger Point Therapy tools, particularly hitting the calves and IT bands.


Meals: Another principle from the Ferriss book I like: In his chapter on the Slow Carb diet he talks about a mistake often made: Planning a clean diet and thinking you’ll learn how to cook while you do it. He basically says if you can’t cook up fancy recipes now you won’t be able to later, and makes the case for why it’s OK to repeat simple meals. Music to me.

Breakfast: Egg whites, egg, lentils, vegetables. Lunch: Vegetable salad and chunk of beef. Dinner: Salad with chicken.

Vitamins and Supplements: SFH fish oil (two teaspoons), glucosamine, vitamins.

Hydration: 100+ ounces with Nuun electrolyte tablets in about half of it.

Post-workout Recovery Meals: After my workout I had coconut water mixed with a scoop of SFH vanilla protein powder.


Iced left Achilles three times yesterday. Iced right knee with Moji ice pack.


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.