The Well-Balanced Runner: CrossFit, Pole Dancing and My Two Cents


Woman climbing pole

Climbing the pole improved my arm strength.

In the case of running, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Overtraining can cause you to become mentally and physically burned out as well as injured. Cross training offers a solution that can also help you get in better all-over condition. Sick of that extra arm jiggle or the receding muscles in your stomach? Try some high-intensity cross training and you’ll be surprised at how much you shape up.

When it comes to fitness, I am not much of a trend follower. I have definitely dabbled in some different fitness programs — from pole dancing to belly dancing — but generally, I stick to what I love and feels natural to me, the thing I’ve done since junior high — running. However, I have noticed I’m in better all-over condition when I do different fitness programs in addition to running. Pole dancing helped me beef up my arms and core muscles, for instance, and weight training has made me stronger in my upper body. And these things, in turn, have kept me in top running form so I can enjoy my runs, which is, ultimately, my goal.

I think there is some merit to recent fitness trends that aim to improve your total body fitness and conditioning with high-intensity training and strength workouts. Workout programs like CrossFit, Insanity and CrossFit Endurance use techniques from athletes’ training programs to provide challenging total body workouts. I know a number of runners that swear by CrossFit as well as runners who pop in Insanity workouts on the regular. These high-intensity workouts employ the tried and true techniques of circuit training, strength training and plyometrics to improve your speed, strength and endurance while burning a high amount of calories.

Woman doing lunges

Plyometrics like lunge jumps improve your speed.

With cross training, the key is striking a balance that works well for you. You want to do workouts that challenge you without overdoing it and getting exhausted or injured. Your cross training should add to your running experience, not deplete you.

I have tried a few CrossFit workouts and some Insanity workouts, and I have to say the CrossFit Endurance program has been my favorite so far, because it gives you high-intensity cardio workouts — in your choice of running, cycling, rowing or swimming. (Being challenged at these other sports, I, of course, go for the running.) I also enjoy the different methods of weight training in the CrossFit workouts, which challenge me to use muscles I didn’t know existed. Insanity workouts have been vigorous workouts as well, but the high-impact activities of jumping rope and other jumps have triggered my old ankle and Achilles injuries to spring up.

After trying these different programs, I have ultimately settled on my own program that I created based on the principles of circuit training and high intensity training. I encourage you to find your own mix as well — whether it’s joining a CrossFit gym or adding new moves to your strength training program or doing some of my Workouts of the Week. Find the activities that challenge you to build more strength and speed, and your running and your body will thank you for it.

Related Posts: Workouts of the Week, Pole Dancing for Runners, Burn Fat with Circuit Training, How to Get Faster with Plyometrics

8 Responses

  1. Tim Huntley

    I have been CrossFitting for about 9 months now (to improve my overall fitness), but I am now shifting to a track and field workout program (I am trying to run a sub-60 second 400m dash this coming year).

    re: CrossFit Endurance – Sarah Wilson from CrossFit South Florida wrote an AWESOME guest post for me about her experience with CrossFit Endurance. It is at


  2. Marnie

    It is good to hear how other runners are doing with CrossFit Endurance! I’d be interested to hear about your track and field program too…will check out your site. Happy running to you!;)

  3. Tim Huntley

    Thanks Marnie! A friend of mine who is the assistant track and field coach at a local college is helping me with a training program. It is amazing to me how sore I am getting from doing sprints (even after 9 months of CrossFit). And I am talking all-body sore, not just isolated muscles.

  4. Pole Dance Italy

    I have been practicing pole dancing for 1 year and a half. It’s a great training, but I think gym and other practice are really necessary to get good results.
    I’m approaching to cross fit, because it’s the most amusing it gives you power, agility and your body (as with pole dance) change really fast.
    love both of them

  5. Marnie

    I agree, it is good to keep changing up your routine and pole dancing is so fun! I really think CrossFit can be a great way to get in better shape too. Good luck and enjoy;).

  6. Rada Francis

    Great article. I agree there needs to be a balance so high intensity workouts don’t end up in injuries. Stretch stretch stretch those muscles.

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