I know this seems counterintuitive, especially for someone who hasn’t ran let alone ran as fast as possible in quite some time (per doctor’s orders, post-surgery, FYI for those of you who don’t know). Just be patient with what you’re about to read ~ there’s a method to the madness. This discussion is going to get at the heart of what CrossFit really prescribes. The great quote from Coach Glassman is “be impressed with intensity, not volume.”
Why is it important to sprint instead of just going for a long jog? Well, let me ask you this, if someone came into the gym for a workout on their first day, would you rather they try and do 10 deadlifts with a moderate load as best they can or 100 deadlifts with a light load as best they can?
The correct answer is the slightly heavier load and the same logic applies to running. People are always so quick to try and spend more time doing things when the real benefit is in doing something slightly challenging as fast and as best you can. 10 sprints of 200 meters will yield infinitely more benefit to your overall athletic capacity than 3 miles or more of a “jog,” especially when, more often than not, peoples “jogs” may be more likely to resemble fast-paced walks.
Volume will always be more dangerous than intensity. Intensity requires attention to detail. It requires focus on movement patterns. Volume can often lead to stray from focus. High volumes don’t always require us to pay attention to how well we’re doing something because it’s absent of intensity. The only way for us to be able to do a lot of something with repetition is that it is most often something that’s easier for us to do (eg. light loads in the gym or in every day life – doing a task in the office that you could complete with your eyes closed).
Often, excessive volume can lead to injury. This is why rhabdo protocol requires that we pay attention to how many reps we do of something and not how fast we do it or how heavy.
You may think intensity means going all out with little regard to form but that’s far from the truth, too. If I’m trying to do thrusters as fast as possible, and I’m doing all kinds of crazy stuff with the bar, am I going as fast as I can? No. I may be exerting as much energy as I can, but I’m not being efficient. If I walked to the store while flailing my arms and legs around as I walked, I may get there and I’ll be exhausted when I do, but I could have gotten there much faster by simply walking. Intensity is trying to get as much work done while expending as little energy as possible and this requires technique.
This isn’t to say you should never run longer distances. We run 5Ks, 10Ks, too, tending to form and good intensity. It provides for a different stimulus.
Learn how to sprint. Sprint as hard as you can with correct attention to detail. You’ll get fitter much faster.