Hi Hayley! I've been doing CrossFit for about three years and I love it, 3-4 times a week. The reason why I enjoy CrossFit is because the workouts are different every time. I used to run and every time I would run I would experience foot pain or knee pain, which I don't get with CrossFit.  My question is, how do I incorporate some sort of cardio in my life?

I notice that CrossFit is starting to make my body look a certain way and make my clothes fit differently (broader shoulders, larger quads). How do I stay lean but incorporate cardio into my life (without the boredom I find in running)?



Different types of activity will have different physiological effects on our bodies and will affect the composition of our bodies in different ways. The Olympics is a perfect example of this. Have you ever watched the opening ceremony and noticed how the bodies of the athletes from each sport look extremely different from one another?  Of course at this high level of athleticism their genetic makeup plays a major factor in the shape their body has taken, but you can still see how a marathon runner differs from a track sprinter and how a cyclist differs from a rower. 

CrossFit builds muscular strength, muscular endurance and power from head to toe and because of this your muscles will increase in size. There is nothing wrong with women being strong, as strong is sexy, but I understand, as an athlete myself, how hard it can be to find clothing that will fit our athletic bodies. But if you love the workout, and love how it makes you feel, then who cares if your shoulders are broader than they used to be. Own it. That said, if you want to make sure you don’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe there are a few things you could do.

Add some cardio back into your workout regime. Maybe start running again, but take a different approach on it this time. Rather than going for the same run each time, switch it up. One day hit the track and do some interval training, mixing it up between 400m, 800m, 1200m and 1600m (1 mile) intervals. Another day get into the trails and take advantage of the constantly changing terrain. Throw in a longer, slow run as well as something short and fast. If running is just not your thing anymore then explore other options. Hiking, cycling, swimming and power walking are all great options for adding cardiovascular training into your weeks. You don’t have to pick just one either. Change it up and try something different each day! This will help you stay motivated and keep your body guessing as to what its next challenge will be. 

Take a closer look at your diet. Focusing on your nutrition will help to make sure that you can eliminate any extra fat that may be adding to the added bulk you don’t like. Cutting back on sugars and drinking more water are two easy ways to keep your body fat percentage at an optimal level. This will take a lot of will power but if you are wanting to see results, nutritional changes are going to make that happen the quickest.

Another option is to add in a yoga, Pilates or bar class to your week. These types of classes focus on flexibility, keeping your muscles long and working the smaller, stabilizing muscles that are hard to isolate in bigger, powerful movements. They will also help keep injuries at a minimum and improve your body’s movement patterns so that you will actually see an improvement in your CrossFit performance.

Your body’s composition will change depending on the types of movements you are demanding of it. My running body is very different from my mountain biking body which is very different from my Pilates body but I love them all because whatever sport I am competing in I know I am strong and I am healthy. You should feel the same way too.

Here is Claire Danes out for a run today in New York.