I was hooked on Crossfit for over 3 years but haven’t been to my gym in about 6 months. Here’s why I quit and what I’ve noticed since I stopped WODing.
I’ve been asked by friends, family, blog readers and instagram friends for the last 6+ months why I quit Crossfit and I felt a little funny answering because there was never really a point where I was like, Peace, I’m out. It was more like we drifted apart.
Looking back, I can identify a few reasons why I drifted away from Crossfit and why I eventually just stopped going back. Here’s why.
Lots of people have asked me over the years something along the lines of, will Crossfit make me better at running? Maybe. But I had a really hard time balancing the two, especially when I had a race on the calendar. When I was training for the Boston Marathon a year ago, it was really hard planning my runs around WODs. With nearly every WOD, I felt like I needed to tweak it so I wouldn’t destroy my legs for the next day’s run. And after a WOD — even if I didn’t go all out — it was hard to hit my goal paces on my next hard run. And I didn’t feel right about showing up to the gym and tweaking everything they had planned for the class.
When I was super into Crossfit, I LOVED going really hard and really heavy, but once I was running 50+ miles a week, I was just too worn out to do that. My one rep max for the deadlift was 250# and my 3-rep max was 225#. Last night, I stuck to 5×5 at 115# and that was plenty.
Our gym went through some coaching and management changes and it just didn’t feel like it used to feel. The culture was very different than I had experienced in the past (and very different from other gyms I’d visited). Quite frankly, it just didn’t feel fun anymore. I also didn’t like the direction the programming had taken.
On top of it, my gym wasn’t super supportive of going lighter than I was capable of to accommodate my running. Not to say that all gyms are this way (they’re not), but my gym was not very encouraging. But I often got comments like “Oh well, that’s why you shouldn’t run” — which is not great to hear when I love running. I recognize that’s a hard balance for a coach (especially one who doesn’t know me well) because while I appreciated how strong I became over the years because they pushed me, I didn’t feel supported when I wanted to back off to meet other goals (i.e. running the Boston Marathon).
When I’m training for a marathon (like I was last spring and again right now), I’m usually running 60-90 minutes a day and time is a premium — and sometimes the WODs were just not a good use of my time. Oftentimes, and even more often with the recent programming, the workouts were only seven minutes, and I get that you can get a great workout in seven minutes (trust me, I’ve been destroyed many times after a 7 minute WOD!), but I was still there for a full hour, at least. Or, I could go to my regular gym, work the key groups that wouldn’t leave me wrecked for my next run, and get in and out in 30-40 minutes, tops.
Honestly, yes. And while I know many women (including some of my closest friends) quit CrossFit because they didn’t like what it did to their body, that wasn’t the case for me. I really liked having more muscle — you can see my before and after CrossFit post here. And I quite miss the muscle, particularly on my hamstrings and in my shoulders and arms (so….I guess I miss all of it, ha!). But, I do feel more myself with less muscle and my normal wardrobe fits again. I definitely had some dresses and blouses I couldn’t zip because my back broadened with muscle that now fit again. I was about 8-12 lbs heavier when doing CrossFit than my “normal” weight — and that amount of weight is quite a bit on my 5’1″ frame when you put it in percentages.
This is me about a month ago.
And this was me when I was doing Crossfit 2-3x a week (and at one point, I was doing Crossfit 4-5x a week!). I especially notice the decreased muscle in my shoulders and arms in pictures. Alas.
I’m not saying that I’ve quit CrossFit forever and I very likely will go back to it at some point. I love visiting my mom’s CrossFit gym when I go to Utah and a CrossFit gym in Boone because they’re fun, it’s something different and I get a great workout. And while I really love the full body aspect of Crossfit and the variety, right now I’m focusing on running. And perhaps after the Boston Marathon, I’ll go back to complement my fitness. But I’m not sure I’ll ever make it my primary workout like I did in the past.
I’m still hitting the weights, but my strength work is specific to improving my running. While I’m sure there are CrossFit gyms that program specifically to help runners, ours isn’t one of those (and I bet they’re rare). Improving running is simply not the end goal of Crossfit — and that’s fine.
What really matters, is finding a balance of workouts that makes you feel the the healthiest, happiest and most “you version” of you. I’ve tried nearly every workout out there and every combo — running, crossfit, yoga, cycling, teaching Les Mills RPM, lifting solo, pure barre, golf, you name it. But I always come back to running as the one thing that makes me feel most me. And that’s fine too.
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To see more of my workout gear, check out this post