Editor's Note: You'll find part of of Ben's advice column on crossfit HERE.
I guarantee that if you're doing a "proper" Crossfit program and combining it with a "proper" triathlon or endurance training program, there is absolutely no chance that you are giving your testosterone:cortisol ratios or inflammatory response to exercise an adequate time to recover, which results in increased immune system lowering risks, increased risk of soft tissue injury, and increased risk of overtraining syndrome.
So what's the solution?
The solution is simple. You just need to modify both Crossfit and your triathlon or endurance training routine. Here is how to do it:
Step 1: If you decide to do Crossfit, immediately make a mental and physical commitment to adjusting your run frequency to no more 3x/week. You will receive any run-specific anaerobic and strength training necessary from the type of sprinting and running you will encounter while engaged in working out at your Crossfit gym or doing the WOD's on the Crossfit website.
Your other remaining runs for the week should be: 1) a single long endurance run, preferably spaced at least 48 hours after the toughest Crossfit workout of the week; 2) two easy recovery runs that focus primarily on cadence, footwork, and running form.
Step 2: If a Crossfit workout is "pull-intensive", that is, if the workout includes lat and bicep soreness-inducing amounts of deadlifts, pull-ups and rowing machine, modify your swim workouts for the next 48 hours to be either A) switching to easy recovery bike rides or B) purely aerobic swims with an emphasis on drills and skills.
Step 3: Track your recovery status like crazy. Using a tool such as Restwise, or something as simple as your morning resting heart rate, track any alterations in your recovery status that suggest you could be moving towards the brink of overtraining. When this occurs, skip the next two Crossfit workouts, and switch any swim, bike, or run workouts to be aerobic only - nothing above anaerobic or lactate threshold. For the Crossfit workouts that you skipped, it's OK to do a simple core routine, but no "just go easy" modifications of Crossfit workouts.
Step 4: If you decide to do Crossfit year round, then do zero, zada, zilch Crossfit during any race weeks, and only do a maximum of two Crossfit routines for the week before race week.
Step 5: Primarily if you are a marathoner, Half-Ironman, or Ironman triathlete, completely and totally skip your Crossfit workout for 48 hours after any breakthrough endurance training sessions, including workouts like 5 hour bricks, 3-4x 5K's, 18 mile runs, tempo century bike rides, or any other workout that *may* be mostly aerobic, but is still highly carbohydrate depleting or affects hormonal status significantly.
Finally, as an endnote, understand that the anaerobic, glycolytic nature of Crossfit requires carbohydrates. So do not attempt starved or minimally fueled Crossfit training routines. What does this mean? While a good day of nutrition and a solid dinner the night before can easily fuel a fasted morning Crossfit routine, a long day of work with a negative caloric balance combined with an overnight fast and no breakfast before Crossfit is asking for trouble.
So finally, here's a glance at what a typical schedule might look like for someone who is combining Crossfit with triathlon or combining Crossfit with aerobic, endurance training.
Day 1: -Crossfit -easy recovery Run with drills/cadence counts
Day 2: -Crossfit -Swim or Bike intervals
Day 3: -Crossfit
Day 4: -No Crossfit -Swim or Bike Intervals
Day 5: -Cross fit-easy recovery Run with drills/cadence counts OR OFF DAY IF DOING SUNDAY BIKE
Day 6: -no Crossfit -long, aerobic run -swim drill workout
Day 7: -rest day OR -long bike with mix of intervals
I do expect questions and comments, so if you have them, just leave them under this post. Also, if you my version of Crossfit as a nice little book that you can tuck under your arm and take to the gym with you, just grab Shape 21: The Lean Body Manual Finally, I do realize that there is an arm of Crossfit called "Crossfit Endurance". I could write an entire new article on that, and I will (unless you are a Half Ironman or Ironman athlete it is a viable option), but this article was primarily intended for the triathletes who are just walking into their local Crossfit gym or using Crossfit.com.
Ben Greenfield has been coaching athletes for over a decade from the website
http://www.pacificfit.net, and is author of the modern triathlon coaching
manual, "How To Be A Triathlon Coach", at http://www.triathloncoachguide.com.