By Ron Bogart
It was just after noon on a Saturday in March and I was quite perplexed. I had just run a very unconventional 27 miles at an unconventional event with unconventional training and I was feeling surprising well. “Is this temporary?” I thought to myself. “Will the effects hit me sometime next week or next month?” I continued to ponder these questions. I assumed time would tell. It’s been nearly two months since that unconventional event so I guess it’s time to report the findings.
First, a little background: I’ve been running for fun since 2000. I qualify the “for fun” part to excluded that stuff I did in high school sports that was normally for preseason conditioning or for punishment. In 2001, I ran my first and only Marathon to date and after doing so swore I would never do one of those again. In the years to follow I ran some half marathons and trained several people to do the same but my body was not responding well to mileage. In fact, I looked like the poster boy for ACE Bandage with a brace on my knee, braces on my ankles and sometimes a low back brace just for good measure. Now well into my forties I was about to retire from running altogether until something unconventional came into my life.
In June 2010, I joined a gym in Springfield called Crossfit. I had come to understand that a lot of my “running issues” could very well be a lack of core strength so I thought I would give it a try. Within 6 months, I was running bandage and brace free for the first time in years. Digging deeper into the Crossfit culture I learned that they had an endurance training program for runners, cyclists, and swimmers called Crossfit Endurance (CFE). I won’t get into a lot of the details of that here as I’m sure you can learn enough about that on your own. The one part I will tell you that is very unconventional to the traditional running world is that you don’t have to train long to race long. In fact they say about 2 hours is the most you should train at one time for any distance. The goal of CFE is high intensity training mixed with functional movements and weight lifting. My CFE coach Kristy Taylor and the rest of the Crossfit crew make this kind of training fun and challenging at the same time.
The event started at 7:17 am and lasted until 3:17pm. I took my 18 year old son Alex and a friend of his and we agreed we would all run until around noon and call it a day. At the end of our 5 hours or so, I had hit the 27 mile mark (more than double my long run distance) while the two boys had run in the 17-18 mile range. Keep in mind this was trail running and for those of you that do both you know that the trails can be a little more challenging. And by challenging I mean hilly, muddy, and gnarly, but these weren’t too bad. In fact, for what was advertised as an unorganized sparsely supported event, it was executed better than most legit races I have attended. However, the nourishment provided would be considered unconventional compared to most marathons you would run. Examples were a breakfast burrito I had at mile 17 and the hotdog with peanut butter cookies at mile 23, but man was it good.
So that’s how it happened, all of that unconventionality and when it was over I felt great. By great I mean I didn’t want to run the next day but I did the day after. In fact, the Tuesday following the race I was running with Shannon Cochran (my other coach) with the Nixa Running Group sharing the details of the event and still feeling fine. Now, I’m not saying that unconventional running is for everybody. If what you’re doing works for you, then by all means stay the course. If you think there’s room for improvement, take my advice and seek out something different. You may not want to follow the unconventional idiotic path that I did, but it sure was fun.