Unbreakable Runner Book Review & Signed Copy Giveaway

For a limited time we’ll be sending an autographed copy of Unbreakable Runner to anyone who Signs Up For Run Calibrator. You’ll receive an email within a day and we’ll get the book out to you asap.


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CrossFit Endurance founder Brian Mackenzie recently released Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the power of strength & conditioning for a lifetime of running strong. We weren’t surprised to see it quickly become a New York Times Best Seller. We have been big supporters of the CrossFit Endurance methodology for years, and we’re confident that you, too, will become a supporter after reading this book.

What’s The Book About?

T.J Murphy and Brian Mackenzie challenge long-standing traditional, running training methods that have dominated the sport for the better part of a century. They introduce the idea of prioritizing intensity over volume.  As a result, injury rates remain low all the while keeping performances top notch. In short, Unbreakable Runner is about running smarter, not longer.

The first part of the book covers the drawbacks of traditional running methods. Namely, the use of LSD (long, slow distance running) to improve aerobic capacity for races. Unbreakable Runner has a way of humanizing the legends of the sport, making it easier for runners of all kinds to relate to the material.  Included are tons of real world examples of Olympic and world champions suffering from the same debilitating ailments plaguing normal, everyday runners.  Ultimately, his discussion isn’t if LSD works, but rather at what cost? Mackenzie’s own struggles with injury while utilizing LSD act not only as a turning point in his own career, but they also serve as a cornerstone for the philosophies of the book.

His discussion isn’t if LSD (long, slow distance running) works, but rather at what cost?

The book’s strong research base emphasizes and supports Mackenzie’s student side.  He uses real world examples, as well as clinical studies, to highlight the harmful consequences of LSD.  The numbers are hard to ignore.

According to a Harvard study from 2012, 79 percent of runners deal with an injury each year.  And with nearly 10 million Americans running more than 110 days per year, three out of four inured means a whole lot of damaged runners, many seeking help-and forking over lots of cash-in sports medicine clinics.

The second part of the book covers the details of the CrossFit Endurance program itself.  The number one motivation behind the program is to keep runners running, plain and simple. Health is the number one priority because, after all, an injured runner is 1) a slow runner, and 2) an inactive runner.  The four pillars of the CFE program include:

  • Running as a skill – Running is far more complex than people understand.  Focus on proper mechanics/form will ensure a runner stays safe and efficient.
  • Avoiding high mileage – It is inevitable that constant pounding on the pavement will lead to overuse injuries.
  • Building functional strength, conditioning, and mobility – Studies show HICT (high intensity circuit training) to be incredibly effective at developing both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.  Also, stronger runners are faster runners.
  • Focusing on nutrition – High carb diets are detrimental to a runners long-term health.

The CFE program is about two words you do not hear much about in traditional programs: health and sustainability.

Each pillar is designed to keep the individual safe and healthy.  For Mackenzie, health and optimum performance go hand in hand.  Unbreakable Runner recognizes the presence of the physical anomalies and the outliers, but for the overwhelming majority of runners a devotion to health is the best recipe for a sustained, successful life of running.  Especially interesting is the section on nutrition.  Because runners are able to maintain a “skinny” appearance the common misconception is that any and all food consumption, mainly high carb foods, is without consequence.  Mackenzie is adamant that even the “below the surface”, metabolic consequences have an impact on race performance.

Research indicates that although a runner’s exercise activity may cloak the negative effects of a bad diet, that doesn’t mean there is no harm occurring on a metabolic level.  When runners are forced to stop running, Ivy said, they can start showing signs of being pre-diabetic within a matter of days.

Beyond the dramatic contrasts in approaches to training methods and nutrition lies a deep passion for discovering the truth about the best possible practices for a running community struggling to stay healthy.  At it’s very core Brian Mackenzie’s love of running is what stands out most.  More importantly, it’s obvious his dedication is to ensuring that more and more people are able to enjoy running, just as much as he does, injury free and at their best.  In the end, Unbreakable Runner (and CrossFit Endurance) isn’t about which training method is best, but rather how to keep people doing what it is they love doing…running.

Who is this book for?
  • Advanced Runners
  • Beginning Runners
  • CrossFitters
  • Trainers
  • Nay-sayers

Everyone.  Unbreakable Runner provides a very doable framework for anyone looking to get better at running.  Injuries aside, LSD training can be intimidating and time consuming.  The CFE program makes even the longest distances approachable, paving the way for a new generation of runners formerly put off by traditional training methods.  Awaiting the die-hard, traditionalists looking for a new topic to get riled up about is a book filled with detailed research backing every claim.  Nay-sayers will also discover a man interested in improving the sport of running rather than being different for the sake of being different.

Conclusions

It’s easy to understand the benefits of such a revolutionary program.  Reduced mileage means less chances of injury.  It also means more time for other things in life (work, family, hobbies).  At the same time, runners can look forward to better race performances, all the while being as healthy as possible.  Still, Murphy and Mackenzie are humble in their presentation of the material.  At the end of the day, they are both lovers of running looking to help other like-minded individuals.

All that is required is that you keep an open mind and a willingness to consider a new approach to your training.

What the book lacks in in-depth explanations of the specific running skills and drills (you can find them online), it more than makes up for in the sample race programs offered.  Included are detailed 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, and ultramarathon 2+ month CFE training plans for beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners.  Also included is a simple to follow intro plan to CrossFit training.

I highly recommend this book, if not for personal use (though it will definitely help my CrossFit training) then certainly for the insight into new, intuitive ways to look at training. CrossFit Endurance is doing for running what CrossFit has already done for general physical preparedness.  Don’t be mistaken though,  Unbreakable Runner isn’t simply about running.  It’s about constantly challenging the status quo in search of the best practice.  It’s about always being a student.  It’s about always striving for health.  Those are all traits that, yes, will help you with your running, but more importantly, with life altogether.

For a limited time we’ll be sending an autographed copy of Unbreakable Runner to anyone who Signs Up For Run Calibrator. You’ll receive an email within a day and we’ll get the book out to you asap.
Run Calibrator


Run Calibrator

Now you can harness the logging, tracking, and analyzing power of Beyond The Whiteboard to follow the CrossFit Endurance running program.  Beyond the Whiteboard has teamed up with Brian MacKenzie, Founder of CrossFit Endurance, to bring you the Run Calibrator™, an innovative program that evolves with each individual athlete.

For inexperienced runners it’s hard to know where to start or how to scale runs. Run Calibrator figures out which intervals to use, what order they should be in, which distances are appropriate, and how much to rest.

The idea is simple. You sign up to run either two or three times a week. When you sign up, a new programming track called “Run Calibrator” will appear on your whiteboard. Each Sunday your run scores are evaluated and new ones are added to your calendar and emailed to you. The runs assigned to you each week will depend on your performances from the previous week. This means each athlete will receive their own individualized program.

Sign Up For Run Calibrator

For a limited time we’ll be sending an autographed copy of Unbreakable Runner to anyone who Signs Up For Run Calibrator. You’ll receive an email within a day and we’ll get the book out to you asap.

Working Out More: Is it Worth it?

A few months ago we released an article about how long it takes to improve in CrossFit. Using “Fitness Level“, our robust measure of an athlete’s physical capacity, we looked at improvement rates across all levels and abilities. We found that on average it takes about 5-6 months to improve your overall Fitness Level by 10 Levels (e.g. going from a level 60 to a level 70).

In this article we will be exploring whether working out additional days per week is worth the extra effort. For years, many prospective crossfitters have wondered if working out five times a week was worth the time commitment. Is three days a week enough to see good improvement? What about two days?

Fitness Level Overview

Findings

Working out 5 days per week week produced 27% faster improvement than 3 days per week.

After analyzing the data, we found that working out 5 days per week week produced 27% faster improvement than 3 days per week. Even increasing from 3 to 4 days per week is associated with 10% faster improvement. We’ve often heard people discount the value of only working out 2 days per week, but the data shows that those athletes only progressed 7.5% slower than their 3 day per week counterparts.

FL-increase-WPW

So is it worth it? Well, that depends.

Clearly there is a substantial performance benefit to working out 5 day a week. But there may be some downsides as well. For one, many gyms charge more for 5 times a week vs. 3 times a week. If that’s how it works at your gym, the additional cost is something to consider. If your gym only offers unlimited memberships, then coming 5 times a week gives you more for your money.

Also, the additional workout time is a factor to consider. Working out 5 times a weeks requires 66% more time than 3 times a week, for only 27% faster results. If you’re already strapped for time in your weekly schedule, this tradeoff may not be worth it for you.

Another issue is recovery and injury risk. The more days you workout, the less your body gets to recover. This can set you up for endless days of soreness and could possibly put you at a higher risk for injury. As always, listen to your body and rest when you need it.

Ultimately, the answer to the question depends on your goals. Are you just trying to stay healthy? Or are you trying to make Regionals this year? If improving as fast as possible is your number one priority, then you should strongly consider increasing your workout days to 5 (or more). If you’re just doing it for fun and health, then there is no need to push your luck. Pick the numbers of days that fit in your lifestyle and that allow for recovery, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your fitness for the long haul.

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The Easiest Fitness Level Workouts

Last year we released “Fitness Level“, which will tell you your overall Fitness Level in a number from 1-99. To calculate your Fitness Level, we look at 8 different categories of workouts. The more of these workouts that you have completed, the more confident we are in the accuracy of your Fitness Level.

Fitness Level Overview

You can browse through all of the Fitness Level workouts by going to “Explore” > “Workouts” on beyondthewhiteboard.com and selecting the filter for “Fitness Level” > “All”.

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In order for a workout result to be considered for Fitness Level, it must be done “As Rx’d” (as prescribed). If a Fitness Level workout contains movements (e.g. Pull-ups, Muscle-ups, etc.) or weights that you can’t complete without scaling, then we won’t be able to use that workout as part of your calculation. Fortunately, there are workouts in each category that almost everyone can do as prescribed. Below is a list of those Fitness Level workouts.  Use them to gauge/track your Fitness Level while you inch closer and closer to performing the more difficult ones without requiring modifications.

If a Fitness Level workout contains movements (e.g. Pull-ups, Muscle-ups, etc.) or weights that you can’t complete without scaling, then we won’t be able to use that workout as part of your calculation. Fortunately, there are workouts in each category that almost everyone can do as prescribed. Below is a list of those Fitness Level workouts.

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Affiliate R&D: The Coffee Box

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It never ceases to amaze me at how much ingenuity box clienteles have to offer.  If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that you’ll want to regularly pick the brains of your members for ideas on how to improve the gym experience you offer. After all, nobody knows what to look for in a gym more than the ones actually paying the big bucks to attend.  Every once in a while you’ll come across a gem of an idea that will become part of the inner workings of your box for a long time.

Introducing The Paleo Grind, a coffee shop created and operated out of Reebok CrossFit Cardiff in Cardiff, Wales. No doubt, countless other gyms offer coffee to their members. Where Reebok CrossFit Cardiff goes above and beyond is by experimenting with bringing the actual coffee shop experience, the social congregation, the relaxed ambiance, the amazing aromas, directly to its members.  CrossFitters’ love of coffee is well documented. Perhaps combining the two, literally, is just what your gym needs? The project is still in its infancy and its success, so far, undetermined, but we were so intrigued with the idea that we couldn’t wait to share it with the rest of the world.

How It All Began
The Paleo Grind is the brainchild of James Henderson, a long-time, loyal member of Reebok CrossFit Cardiff. He loved the gym and his experience so much that he began thinking of ways to give back.

“[My motivation], primarily, was to make the box better. Whilst I am not the box owner, I feel passionately about it and what it has done for me, so it is only natural that I want to improve it.”

The fact that James feels so strongly about his gym is testament to the work they are doing over there at Reebok CrossFit Cardiff. James long observed the lingering habits of himself and fellow members, both pre and post WOD, and quickly realized that the gym could benefit from a designated gathering spot. He initially experimented (with the approval of the owner) by placing a couch in a dark corner of the gym near a small store room to see if people would take the bait. Sure enough, people began choosing the couch as their hangout area of choice. The addition of a small light was the icing on the cake. Before long James realized the potential of the space. For him, it was only natural that the area also served coffee.

You see, James is pretty passionate about coffee too (as I suspect many CrossFitters to be). He’d long investigated and observed the health and performance benefits coffee has to offer. His goal was to pass on that knowledge to his fellow CrossFitters. As the spot became more and more popular, James approached the affiliate owner and, ultimately, came to an agreement regarding the creation, ownership, and operation of an officially licensed coffee shop. Alas, The Paleo Grind was born.

“I have come to a sensible arrangement with the box owners that balances the benefits of the coffee shop for members, with the [utilization] of the space and facilities.”

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