September 23, 2014

Why I quit CrossFit to run the Akron Marathon

Let me clear from the beginning. I am not quitting CrossFit forever to become a runner. It is just for a few more days so every one can sleep easy. The 2793rd Fittest Man can’t leave CrossFit for too long. I enjoy the training and results that CrossFit offers too much. Besides, it’s hard to be this mediocre through running alone…

“So if you like CrossFit so much, why quit doing it for a foot race” you say. Why, I’m glad you asked….

You see, I have this bucket list of things I want to do and have been slowly checking them off. I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up and because of that have always felt that I had something to prove to myself and others. I was the kid always picked last on the playground (if I was picked at all). I didn’t much natural ability and I don’t think I understood how much hard work went into what an athlete is capable of until I was much older. Much of what athletes do has seemed “impossible” to me and one of those impossibilities has been running a full marathon. Truthfully, I never thought I would attempt one. 

I started my “bucket list” with a team event. I got talked into a Tough Mudder. It was eleven miles of grueling mud and obstacles. That was about as much fun as getting kicked in the nuts but I went out and did it. I had a nervous twitch from the “Shock Therapy” obstacle and blisters the size of quarters but I did it. Then it was the Akron Relay Marathon. Now this race was a blast. I ran the 7.5 mile leg, saw lots of girls in booty shorts and got my first medal. There are few things I love more than booty shorts and participation medals and was immediately hooked. The natural progression after that was to sign up for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon. I ran this back in the spring and this is what I have to thank for making me sign up for the full marathon, so here’s the story…

I didn’t train properly for the half. Numerous CrossFitters, both coaches and athletes alike had told me “Just keep doing CrossFit. Any good CrossFitter can simply go out and run a half marathon”. I believed them. I thought my CrossFit training and love of booty shorts would carry me across the finish. What they didn’t tell me (and I didn’t ask) was that you can go out and run a half marathon on CrossFit training but the last 3-4 miles are going to hellish and you won’t be able to walk for a few days. I spent my time leading up to that race doing CrossFit 4 days a week and running 2 with very few long runs. While my cardio capacity held up just fine, my body simply wasn’t prepared for the 2 hours worth of pounding it took on the course. When it was over I was walking like a porn star working overtime…

Since this was my first half, I had asked a buddy of mine to bring my daughters down to watch me run. They were right at the finish line to watch me hobble over at 2 hours and 6 minutes. The feeling of having them watch me finish was priceless. Once I found them in the crowd I remember the look on my daughters faces as they could tell I was in serious pain. It was one of concern and surprise since at their young age they still foolishly think Daddy can do anything. (They are almost teens so that will end soon.) I had my arms on their shoulders and said out loud “If I ever do that again, somebody punch me”. In my mind at that moment,  that was the hardest thing I would ever do and I would never attempt it again. I went home did nothing for a few days while I recovered. 

As I was recovering I had plenty of time to reflect on my performance, where I went wrong in my training, and more importantly, that final moment with my daughters. I believe that as a parent you should be constantly teaching your children either through instruction or example. I had this immediate regret that I had just taught my daughters that there would be moments in your life where it would beat you and that it is acceptable to walk away from it. I couldn’t stand the thought of that so I went and signed up for what I considered an impossible task, the Full Marathon. 

They won’t understand it today but someday they will. I want my daughters to know that when life beats you, you get back up. When you make a mistake, you try again until you get it right. It’s only over when you quit breathing and until that day don’t let anyone tell you that something is impossible. You may not always win but you can always accept the challenge….

(Side note: When I told my daughters I was running the Full Marathon my youngest, without saying a word, reached over and punched me as hard as she could in the stomach. When I asked why she replied “You told me too.” No DNA test required for that kid….)


  1. I laugh when I hear some CrossFit coaches say that you can run a marathon on just CrossFit training. Yeah, that's how Rich Froning walked portions of the 5k (5k for hell's sake...) during the Triple 3. That's how Chris Spealler just finished the Park City marathon in nearly 6 hours - all that endurance building, marathon training CrossFit. Love CrossFit, but 500m on the rower does not translate to 26.2 miles on the road. One of my first CrossFit coaches was a ultra marathon runner. I heard him give some great advice once when asked how many meters on the rower or AirDyne translated to a mile of running. He said, "Here's the conversion - 1 mile of running = 1 mile of running." It's true. You wanna do a muscle up, practice muscle ups. You wanna run a respectable marathon, practice running.

  2. Amen! I completely agree. Thanks for reading...