I finally got my copy of Power, Speed, Endurance by Brian MacKenzie of CrossFit Endurance. I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect – maybe 100 pages filled with controversial ideas. What I got was:
- A beautiful, thick, large-format book packed with hundreds of slow-motion stills of every CrossFit exercise as well as running, swimming, and cycling technique.
- A nuanced view of the pros and cons of traditional endurance training and the CrossFit approach.
- Finally, a clear explanation of CrossFit Endurance programming that “clicked” with my brain – I never really understood the methodology behind the website programming until I read the book!
- A comprehensive “manual” of CrossFit, incorporating weightlifting, gymnastics, sport skills, mobility, and nutrition.
In short, it far exceeded my expectations. It deserves a place next to Tudor Bompa’s classic Periodization for Sport on my bookshelf, representing a radically alternative philosophy. PSE advocates constant variation with a lot of flexibility in programming, but also admits that in order to compete in endurance events, you have to practice the skill of the sport and do time trials at distance. Bompa agrees on the skill aspect, but advocates a highly regimented program that is proven but breaks down easily if you don’t have 800-1000 hours per year to devote to training. It will be interesting to read (or re-read in the case of Bompa) both books and draw out the nuggets from each.
I will tell you the following impacts in the first week:
1. I found out that what I thought was Pose running was not. When I tried it after reading the running skill section in the book, I was exhausted and felt like I had just done 1000 deadlifts, meaning that I was using completely different muscles. Humble pie indeed. In 25 years I had never thought about midline stabilization when running. Duh.
2. I got in the pool and found out I was actually swimming pretty well. Core engaged – check. Both push and pull on the kick – check. Etc. Etc. Again, never really thought about it before. Eye-opening.
Congrats to BMack on a great product. Plus it’s heavy enough to turn my backpack into a weighted vest!
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,Power Speed Endurance
Springtime in the east means sketchy, stormy weather for single sculling. I’ve been supplementing with quite a bit of running using Inov-8 or FiveFingers minimalist shoes. While I feel that my foot strength is now high enough not to worry about recovery as much, I am struggling with the technique after a winter of too much snow for running. I tend to land with my foot too far forward, meaning that I am actually decelerating a little before pulling through, as opposed to picking up the ground speed and adding to it seamlessly.
This is the running equivalent to “hanging at the catch” or catching too slowly and throwing up too much backsplash in rowing. Working too hard to maintain speed vs. accelerating each stroke/step.
As usual Brian MacKenzie has posted a great video that helps me visualize the correct motion – after watching this, I tried again doing short intervals and it helped me out tremendously. If you look at the dude on the treadmill, his legs look like the pistons on an old steam locomotive – very smooth, forward-pull, forward-pull. That visual helped me nail the right cadence and pick up a lot of speed.
So I started reading The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, largely because I was interested in Brian MacKenzie’s participation in it.
The verdict is still out – he is an iconoclast for sure, he may be a complete nutter, or he may be on to something (or a combination of the three). I’m keeping an open mind and trying to synthesize the salient points that have relevance for my life and training goals. Interested in others’ opinions.
I always get asked this, even by rowers. I think for many the Concept2 damper setting is a mystery, and they feel like the heavier the better, just like throwing an extra 45# bumper on the bar or doing the Rx weight instead of scaling. My response is usually “it doesn’t matter – just set it where you feel comfortable, it won’t be easier or harder necessarily, it will just feel different.” Same advice as for learning to lift: Focus on technique first, then fitness/mobility, THEN add the weight. And I’ve only met a handful of people, even long-time rowers, who could tell you how to figure out the drag factor and calibrate between different machines.
At the risk of dating myself, I remember in college when there was no damper per se, but you had to physically change the gears with your hands. Then there was the Model B with-ring and without-ring (I still have one in my basement and still think it feels more accurate than the C/D/E and has a far more comfortable seat). I remember when we standardized on a drag factor of 180 (small-gear, closed vents) for heavyweight men, which is much heavier than you can ever get on a Model D or E today.
So I stumbled upon this post by Erin Cafaro on the Crossfit Endurance site while looking for an archived post by Brian MacKenzie. I think it’s the clearest explanation I’ve ever heard, and relating it to bike gearing is brilliant, something that most people can understand, and ironically is rooted in the earliest C2 which was a bike wheel and speedometer with wind vanes that used to fly off when you really got it cooking.
My only question is, does this mean that East Coast rowers have more cred because they do their testing in heavy, dirty, dense, humid air at sea level 🙂