Why do so many “CrossFit” style trainers dislike runners?

I have witnessed an interesting trend in fitness marketing that is a bit surprising and disturbing to me. There is a common message out there on blogs, marketing brochures and promotional material for gyms that uses a Marathoner vs Sprinter analogy to promote High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Let me share some examples and my comments. First, this one appeared at the gym where I work out:

The picture includes Usain Bolt and Constantino Leon.

The picture includes Usain Bolt and Constantino Leon.

It juxtaposes a picture of Usain Bolt, Jamaican sprinter, with a picture of Constantino Leon, a Peruvian distance runner. The implied message is that if you want the body of Usain Bolt, which is very attractive, you should do their HIIT training, not run. Here’s the real irony. Mr. Leon has a Half Marathon PR of 1:03:53 and I will personally guarantee you 100% that he utilizes Interval training in his plan!!! Nobody runs a 1:03:53 without speed training. That’s 4:52 per mile for 13.1 miles. Usain Bolt’s running is pure sprinter training. So while he does a lot of plyometric exercise like jumps, bounding and explosive drills, his sprint intervals are far from HIIT. A sprinter will typically take 15 minutes rest between intense sprints. So the training you’re proposing is actually more similar to Mr. Leon than Mr. Bolt.

Having a sense of humor I edited the flyer and taped up a few copies at the gym.

I like the improved poster!

I like the improved poster!

This is another post using the same picture: http://trainerjosh.com/articles/metabolic-resistance-training-and-why-your-cardio-sucks/

Here’s a more offensive version of the same theme. This author takes shots at distance runners by disparaging a mythical figure, Pheidippides, father of the marathon.

Link to blog: http://crossfitlancaster.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/train-like-john-henry/

Excerpts from the story:

Military commander to Pheidippides – ”Dude, you’re obviously not a fighter and your ability to sing show tunes hasn’t proven helpful on the front line, but you are really skilled at running away from stuff, so go run and get us some professionals.”

“One guy stood up and confronted the enemy, while the other ran away. One guy was big, strong, and could do immensely powerful things over a period of time, while the other guy was skinny, scrawny, and was most effective in a fight when he was running away from it.

“Did you ever notice most “joggers” tend to look the same? They’re either skinny and weak, or completely overweight and injured.”

“If you love jogging, fantastic. People like smoking and drinking, too, and I’m not writing to change what you like –“

“To be clear, I’m not saying it’s not an impressive feat to churn out 26.2 miles at a five-minute-per-mile or less pace. If that’s your thing, and you’re an elite marathoner, more power to you. Think about this, however: the primary goal for 99.9% of the people lining up to run a marathon is simply to finish. This takes spirit, will, and commitment, and I respect that – but people also tell me they’re jogging to lose fat and build muscle.”

This guy is wrong on so many levels I don’t have time to pick it all apart. But most significantly, he insults distance runners and is oblivious that competitive distance runners were among the first athletes to use Interval Training- exactly the method he is promoting!

Three blogs using this same picture.

Left- Holmen, R- Chambers

Left- Holmen, R- Chambers



“One is the picture of what a human should look like while the other looks like a Holocaust survivor.”


“If you are going to do cardio there is definitely a better way. Interval training is by far the best, most affective, bang for your buck type of cardio training you can do. The best part is that you only need 20-25 minutes max to get unreal results.”

So now for more irony. This is what a human is supposed to look like? Try again. The sprinter pictured is a drug user. Yes. Suspended for several years and had medals from major meets stripped. Ever heard of BALCO and Victor Conte? This guy knows them well. The picture is Dwain Chambers, disgraced drug user and cheater.

The distance runner pictured is Janne Holmen. He has a PR for 10K of 28:09. That’s 4:31 per mile. Again, I give you my 100% guarantee that this guy used Interval Training extensively in his regiment.

There are dozens of more examples of CrossFit/ HIIT/ Primal Gym/ Boot Camp / Freak Fitness taking shots at runners and being oblivious of their stupidity. Distance runners use Interval Training! The bottom line is that there is no need to disparage one type of training to promote another.  Please remember, the pioneers of Interval training were runners and cyclists. Neither group is best known for looking good at the beach but their training methods are exactly what you are using. Interval Training DOES work, just ask Janne Holmen, Constantino Leon or any other distance runner.