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
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.
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.
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.