Transition Training: Moving Between Strength Movements & Running
by Kristy Parrish | August 13, 2013 11:40 pm
by VALERIE HUNT
Work on the details: [Y]ou must practice transition training as part of your skill training for WODs or triathlons.
CrossFit WODs such as “Nancy” or “Helen” really test the athlete’s ability to combine strength and endurance in the same workout. Overhead squats and running, or running and then completing KB swings and pull-ups, are taxing on all the systems. In triathlon training, the transition from bike to run is known as a “brick” and it’s accepted that your legs feel like bricks when you start running! The same idea applies for the obstacle course races: you have to be able to climb a rope, jump over a 10-ft wall, and then run to the next station. People will generally say that the obstacles were doable, but it was the running that got hard.
Developing Foot Strength
As you fatigue, the first thing to go is running form. This is why you must practice transition training as part of your skill training for WODs or triathlons. As the WODs get longer, you can start to “hear” people’s feet — literally — as they stomp the ground because their cadence gets lower; they are just doing what they can to finish. If you practice skill drills that develop muscle elasticity and cadence, you will enjoy the benefits in your workouts.
Barefoot drills will both increase your foot strength as well as develop your muscle elasticity.
As you get stronger in your feet as well as increase your pliability, you will be able to maintain higher cadence at higher speeds for longer durations.
Progress slowly on these drills and pay attention to your form. Being able to land softly on a jump barefoot will translate to lighter feet in your run.
Start out hopping on two feet, staying on the balls of your feet but letting your heels touch. As you add the fall to move forward, practice one-foot hops as well.
As you develop more “springiness” in your feet, you can advance to jumping up and off a higher surface — with one or both feet — such as a low curb. Eventually you can progress to jumping onto a much higher box and then stepping off, with a focus on landing softly/quietly on the top.
Transition Practice: Focus on Your Cadence
OHS (Strength Movement) to Running
Practice the pull: When you re-start the run, pull aggressively, reminding your body that this is now the new movement.
Switching from an overhead squat to a run requires you to go from a steady, balanced movement straight to an unbalanced movement. Holding a barbell over your head requires focus, balance, precision and midline stability. Similarly, in running you want to fall (unbalance), a skill that also demands focus, precision and midline stability. Practicing falling into a wall in your Pose position is essential so that it becomes a regular pattern for your body. Also, hollow rocks, boats and flags are integral core practices for being able to hold both the running Pose and all strength movements. (You can find examples of these and more core practices in BMack’s book PowerSpeedEndurance.)
As you move into the run, make sure you are pulling quickly so you can get to your normal cadence and avoid those heavy feet.
Running to Strength Movement
When transitioning from the run to a strength movement such as a pull-up, go right into the movement. Once you begin the movement, relax your breathing. While that may sound counterintuitive, you will be able to transition easier into the movement as your body regulates itself from the run. When you re-start the run, pull aggressively, reminding your body that this is now the new movement. Pick one leg and pull it a little higher, then the other — this way you can get right back into the run, pick up the cadence, and fall to move faster.
Biking to Running
Skill training: [S]et up a transition area and practice running to pull-ups or burpees, thus learning how to switch to a different movement and keep up the skill.
When you train for a triathlon, transition training is a big part of the training. You set up your area just as it will be in the race and you practice getting off your bike and running so your body will know what to do on race day. You can do the same in skill training for WODs: set up a transition area and practice running to pull-ups or burpees, thus learning how to switch to a different movement and keep up the skill.
Specifically for moving from biking to running, the ideal is to maintain the same high cadence from the bike ride into the run, pulling in similar fashion.
Now when you walk into the box and see “Nancy” or “Helen” on the board, you will smile knowing you have done your skill work and can take these girls on!
Keep up with Valerie Hunt on RunATX and follow her on Twitter at @runatxrun. For more video demos and instruction, subscribe to RunATXTV.