CrossFit and Marathon Training

CrossFit Running and marathon training

“I’m training for the marathon. How should I integrate CrossFit training with my (increasingly intensive and time-consuming) running program?”


CrossFit and endurance training I feel mix very well together. Although not in the way that most people may think. Most endurance programs but not all, tend to focus on building up to a high volume or high mileage over time. This can be very hard on the body and tends to leave marathoners with overuse issues such as IT Band syndrome and sore joints. If we add in 3 cross training days (CrossFit) we can start to navigate away from the overuse issues and work on keeping the body strong which in turn can lead us to run less miles during training and still get the work done on race day.

You also want to add in certain running drills to keep aware of what good running form feels like. I would add these into the warm up of the CrossFit days. As we up the mileage our running form starts to break down, so we want to be aware of what good form feels and looks like so we can get back into an optimal position and be able to run longer without undue stress. (POSE Drill Videos)

For most people a typical CrossFit/Run week will look like this:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
CrossFit Run: Speed/hills CrossFit Rest Run: Long run (LSD) CrossFit Run: Short recovery

This is a bit of a general template to get most people started but it will depend on your personal schedule. You may find that you can only do your LSD runs on Sundays or Wednesdays. So I would shift this around to a schedule that works best for you.

It is also possible to do CrossFit and a run on the same day if you have a really tight schedule. If you need to do this make sure there is at least 3 hours between CrossFit and your runs.

When I’m in class (during my marathon training), should I modify movements and/or intensity?

Every 4 weeks should be what we call a “Deload” week where you are lowering your intensity, weight, and mileage a bit (~ 50% – 60% weight/intensity/distance of your 3rd week). Other than a deload week you can CrossFit as you normally would but keep in mind that your nutrition and recovery will play a much bigger role than how hard or heavy you are CrossFitting. 

How about during “the taper”? Should I continue to CrossFit during the 3-4 weeks just before my race? If so, how should I modify?

The last 3 – 4 weeks of your program should include a “Taper” meaning you are intentionally dropping your mileage to be fresh for race day. Yes, you should continue to CrossFit but keep things on the moderate to easy side of weight/intensity. The taper is also a way to reduce the chance of injury before the race. You want to keep moving but everything should feel good and not hard. Mobility work will also be key during this time. Make sure you feel flexible and not stiff. I suggest focusing on just basic movements the week before to keep your flexibility and schedule. Come into your regular class time, focus on bodyweight movements, flexibility and mobility drills. Make it an easy non stressful week and give it all at your race.


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