How I’m (trying to) balance running & CrossFit

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Last week, I mentioned I finally got my kipping pull-ups down. I was thrilled but…I think after going from 0 to 75 pull-ups in one workout was harder on my body than I realized. Couple that with the CrossFit competition the weekend before that, and my body is pretty beat up. I didn’t really think to give it extra rest; I should have known better. I’ve been feeling worn down and then in yesterday’s workout, something in the corner of my chest near my shoulder just felt really off during pull-ups and was super painful. I stopped and subbed out dips for the pull-ups, but it still hurts to use that arm with any pressure, like pushing a soap dispenser or pushing myself up in bed. Ugh. I’m not sure what I did – I’m hoping just a strained muscle that needs a few days of rest. 

But, this may be a blessing in disguise. I’ve been really struggling to find a workout routine to balance CrossFit and running. I like running in the morning when there’s no traffic, but if I’ve done CrossFit the night before, it’s hard to get up to run. And even if I’ve done CrossFit in the morning, sometimes my body is still too beat up to really run. And if I don’t feel like working out, CrossFit is easier to get motivated to do, knowing I’ll see lots of friends there and the workout will get me going, once I get going. And sometimes, I’ll plan to run and then see the WOD and it sounds so fun, I don’t want to miss it. I honestly cannot believe I’m picking CrossFit over running these days…but I really do love it. And I’ve been doing it 4-5x a week.

Kettlebell Swings

However, I just don’t feel myself when I’m not running. It’s like something’s missing. So, I’m trying to figure out a way I can balance all of the workouts I want to do, keep my body healthy and not over do it.

Here’s my game plan: Make a loose workout schedule that has better balance. Here’s what I’m thinking. 

M – CrossFit 

T – run

W – CrossFit 

Th – run or rest, depending on how I feel

F – CrossFit

S – run

S – Recovery day: yoga or foam rolling 

I really wish CrossFit posted the workouts for the week in advance rather than the night before so I could plan my workouts better. I’m planning to do CrossFit MWF since that’s the only days they have morning classes and life just feels less hectic when I work out in the AM. And if there’s a morning that the WOD doesn’t sound great (for example, I have a general rule that if there are snatches in the workout, I skip that day), I think I’ll do yoga or take an extra day of rest. I really wish Top Tier had bootcamp in the mornings because I LOVE their bootcamp classes… but working out at night and then trying to go back to the AM schedule is just too brutal. So I’m thinking on any nights I end up doing bootcamp for whatever reason, I’ll do yoga the next morning or rest just to be kinder to my body.

It may not work well for me to be so unstructured about rest days but I always have a day during the week where I’m just like NOPE, not working out, no matter what workout I had planned on doing. In the past I’ve usually had a set rest day (Fridays were sacred), so we’ll see how it goes having unplanned rest days and just playing it by ear. I may need to implement a holy rest day again.

Do you struggle to find balance with workouts? How do you manage it? I think too much of any workout is probably not a good thing. I’ve been in phases where I all I did was run run run and neglected strength, and I don’t think that was good either since I struggled with overuse injuries.

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    19 responses to “How I’m (trying to) balance running & CrossFit”

    1. I’m sidelined from running right now and I’m sure it’s due to overuse. I way increased my mileage and scared running trails more often. I just love to run and don’t feel myself when I’m not. I’ve been able to still go to the gym for the bike/elliptical/ rowing machine but it’s not the same. I’m going to have to find something to do that I like so I’m not running 6 days a week. I’d love to try cross fit but the one near me doesn’t offer classes at a convenient time. There is a Title boxing club near me that has classes I can go to so I might try that. It sounds like that incorporates strength and cardio. I do life weights once a week but hate it, lol.


      • I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. 🙁 I definitely know the struggle of finding something that gives the same high as running. What about a cycle class? Would the group atmosphere help vs. doing it on your own? (Assuming that’s what you were doing?)

        Boxing would be awesome! I’d be terrified!

        I used to hate weight lifting and then I started doing much heavier weight and fewer reps. So, 3 sets at a heavy enough weight that I could only do 6-8 reps. Once I started doing that, it went by faster (which was good since I hated it!) AND I saw results and I fell in love with it.

    2. story of my life. i LOVE to run and i LOVE to lift weights. what you just wrote is the story of my life. I love running, especially in the Fall when the air is crisp but not too cold (I live in New Hampshire) i hope this works out for you.

    3. I have struggles with this balance for sooo long. I have currently figured out a schedule that seems to fit, which looks like – W/F/Su: run, M: XT+strength, Th/S: strength only, Tues: rest. However, I will soon start back up with marathon training, which always throws me for a loop. I will probably end up moving my rest day to M, and adding a run and a XT day to my strength only days. But it always looks perfect on paper, right? In reality, I am constantly worried about overdoing it and having bad runs b/c my legs aren’t fresh. Always a guessing game!

      • Thank you for sharing your routine! I love hearing what others do – it helps so much! I like that you do XT on strength days on Mondays. Some days the CrossFit workout is so short that I’m still craving more sweat time; I may try adding an ellipitcal workout on days that I feel like I need a little more, and hopefully that will help move some lactic acid out of my legs so I can feel fresher on a run. And holy cow, I am constantly worried about bad runs because my legs are toast!!! Keep me posted on how it goes as you start to ramp up your mileage!

    4. I definitely struggle. For me, running is a priority, but other than light stretching if I get busy everything else goes out the window – yoga, pilates, and barre. I want to get into a routine where I go to yoga once every other week and barre once every other week (with an NYC lawyer work schedule it’s all I can do to run inside an hour, so 4-6 miles, before work) and do those on Sundays. But it is tough!

      • because I HATE them. hahahhaa. They scare me and they feel so uncomfortable. And I don’t really see what I benefit from them that I can’t get from other movements. I would love to hear your thoughts on them though. 😀

        • I used to hate them too, they are definitely awkward. But once I got more comfortable, I actually started liking them. They are one of the two basic Olympic lifts… there’s obviously a reason people do them. I don’t see how you can avoid it forever, so you might as well embrace your fear and tackle your weakness 😛

    5. I’m so glad you shared this! I’ve wondering how you were balancing it all and how often you were running! I was wondering how you balance your memberships between Crossfit, Barre & yoga! Or what kind of memberships do you have for them?!

      • Oh my gosh, it’s such a struggle to balance – I’m barely running and I hate that!

        I have a CrossFit monthly membership and then do drop-ins or a small punch pass at Pure Barre and yoga to get the discounted rate vs. pricey drop-ins. And, my CrossFit gym has yoga classes 2x a week and it’s included in my membership which is super helpful for the budget. Sometimes I still pay to go to my regular studio because I love it, but more often than not, I can’t justify paying extra for it.

        • Thank you that is so helpful! Do you think you’re going to sign up for any races soon? Or sticking to CrossFit competitions for now? Either way I love reading about them!

          • I do want to sign up for a race soon but I’m not sure which one! Maybe I’ll ease back into racing with a turkey trot! I think I still prefer races to CrossFit competitions! 🙂

    6. A few things…

      1) I am in a constant ebb and flow with workouts. I just go with whatever is feeling best for my body. The mix always includes run, yoga and lifting (including circuit/crossfit type workouts) but which is the “heavy” element is always changing. I wrote a post about it last year: http://www.peanutbutterrunner.com/finding-the-right-workout-balance-lift-run-stretch/.

      My biggest advice would be to listen to what is feeling good for your body and do what motivates you and makes you feel best! Just because you’ve always been a runner doesn’t mean you can’t try out being a “CrossFitter” for a while. When you’re ready to run again, you will! Whatever you do…don’t forget the mobility/stretch piece of it. So super important for both running and CrossFit.

      2) The kipping…BE SO CAREFUL! I was so focused on learning how to do kipping pull ups in the beginning after I got them for a while I took a long break to focus on band assisted pull ups and building strength. Kipping pull ups are SO HARD on your shoulders if you don’t have the stability and strength in your shoulder girdle needed to support such a dynamic movement. Shoulder injuries are very common with kipping. We used to tell our athletes at Metro that they needed to have multiple unbroken dead hang pull ups before it was safe to kip. Doing 75 in your first workout with them is so much on your body. Be careful! Shoulders are tricky things and you want to keep them healthy.

      I’ve found I can’t do intense CrossFit style workouts more than 2-3 times per week because they are so hard on my body. These days I gravitate more towards just lifting or the boot camp style workouts that your gym offers. They’re challenging but don’t cripple me!

      Hope some of this is helpful! xoxo


      • Thank you SOOOO much for your comment friend! I’ve had many stages in life where running took a back seat and it’s always such a hard adjustment for me. I’m trying not to force it but it’s hard! I love the thought of having all elements but sometimes one is more dominant. Thanks for sharing that link!

        Ahhh sooo good to know why I’ve heard you shouldn’t do kipping pull-ups before you can do a strict one. That makes total sense (and freaks me out because I definitely think I strained something in my shoulder/pec area – it was tender for 4-5 days). I think I’ll avoid doing many kipping pull-ups until I can do a strict one; it’s just so frustrating because I feel like I’ll never get a strict one.

        You’re the best. Thanks for sharing your expertise. Love ya!

    7. I think it’s ok and natural to have times in your life when you prefer different workouts. The end goal is to stay active for a long healthy life, right?
      That said, balance is hard to find when you love doing different things. I love taking yoga classes but my life right now is so crazy that it’s easier for me to run or lift weights, both things I can do whenever I have a chance.

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