Run 5k. A true measure of fitness or just a piece of the puzzle?

It’s no secret to anyone that I am a die hard believer in CrossFit. I love everything that CrossFit has given me physically, emotionally and professionally. Needless to say, I don’t believe there is anything out there that can give you the type of fitness that CrossFit can give you. If you are a CrossFitter, you probably understand and agree with me wholeheartedly. If you aren’t a CrossFitter, chances are you may have some reservations when I share these thoughts. This past weekend, I encountered someone who made judgment on my personal level of fitness without fully understanding the fitness that CrossFit is capable of delivering.

On Sunday I ran a 5k road race while pushing my 9 month old son, Able, in his jogging stroller. I was excited to enjoy the day with my wife and son doing something healthy outside of the gym. When we arrived at the race registration tent, my wife and I were greeted by some friends from the gym and also some people we know outside of the CrossFit world. I was getting limber and stretching out my hips when I was approached by one of our non CrossFit friends who sparked up a conversation with me by saying – “doing all that CrossFit won’t help you now… You guys don’t do any endurance.” He then pointed to a group of  guys that had the typical “runners build” and said “Those guys are going to be finished when you are just staring mile 2….No way CrossFit can get you as fit as them”.

Instantly I thought “Hold up… WHAT!?!!?!?!?”… But being the better man, I bit my tongue and I wished him good luck. Looking back, I wish I would have taken that opportunity to drop a few knowledge bombs. What I wanted to say to him was “Saying that group of guys are fitter than me because they can run a 5k faster than me is like saying your overweight uncle is fitter than me because he can crush me on the golf course”.  Let me explain…

Both of those things are different tests that require different skill sets. Running and golf both require a whole lot of specialized training to help you become really good. The runners probably spend a lot of time pounding the pavement increasing their cardiovascular endurance while the golfer has probably spent a ton of time perfecting the coordination, balance accuracy and power that it takes to effectively drive a golf ball and swing a putter well. Does doing one really well make you fitter than the other? 
The point I am trying to make with this is that fitness shouldn’t be understood as being good at one set of skills. It should be looked at as all encompassing and should require tests from all modalities to come up with an accurate measure. It should be measured with broad and general tests. Not specialties. While the runner and the golfer are both really good at parts of what fitness is, where do they stack up on the other parts?

Back to the race…
We lined up at the starting line, saluted to the National Anthem and just like that we were off. The course was hilly and the wind made pushing the stroller a pain in the ass.

My end results you ask?
I placed 7th in my age division and top 50 overall (while pushing a stroller).
Not too shabby for someone who occasionally run’s during a metcon in a CrossFit workout. Regardless, all of the guys in that pack that were pointed out to me at the beginning of the race crushed me and I am not bothered by that in the least bit.

Did I win the race? Nope. Am I saying that running/endurance sports are bad? Not at all. Am I saying that the winners of this race out of shape? Not at all.
What I am saying is that Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance is just ONE PART of the fitness puzzle and that CrossFit can help you become well rounded in EVERY part of fitness. Finishing in the position I did on Sunday proves my point. I wasn’t the best but I was fairly decent at running a 5k without specialized training.

Still not convinced? Let’s talk hypothetical….let’s say that the 5k race was just one scored test at today’s fitness event and we have 4 more after it. Let’s say that these events test all the OTHER aspects of fitness… They are simple too…

Event 2 will be a sit and reach test, followed by a test of the Overhead Squat with a PVC pipe (testing general flexibility/mobility).
Event 3 will be a 1 rep max deadlift and a 5 rep max power clean (testing raw strength and power)
Event 4 will be “Cindy” 20 min AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups 15 air squats (testing muscular endurance and stamina)
Event 5  will be 3 Round for time of 50 DU’s, 10 wall balls shots to a target, 10 walking lunges and 5 power cleans (testing balance, accuracy, agility and coordination).

Who would be the most fit under these circumstances? I’d put your money on me.

The goal of CrossFit is to get humans so fit that they can do ANYTHING fairly well. Broad and general so we can do more than one thing. So we can be a jack of all trades. So we can be prepared for any physical demand that life throws at us. So we can say yes when others say no.

Start saying yes.
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