Western States 100 and CrossFit Endurance

Steve Crane finished the Western States 100 in sub-24 hours following a CrossFit Endurance program designed by Marcus Filly. Western States 100

Running less than 21 miles per week in his 6-month training plan & PRing just about every lift he did.

Read his story & testimonial below:

Hey Brian –

Hope you’re doing well. I wanted to share some powerful data I’ve just experienced in support of CF Endurance.

I learned in early December that I’d gained entry into Western States. This would be my 7th run of that distance or longer.

I sat down with Marcus Filly to discuss setting goals and how to prepare for this race, which I intend to be my last of this sort. We’ve worked together to develop training plans for 100-milers in each of the two previous years.

I expressed a certain amount of dread about running in the event because the training in past years has been physically and emotionally draining. Additionally, I constantly felt like I would make some nice strength and mobility gains in the winter, only to give them all back when the running training ramped up in the spring. Without hesitation, Marcus suggested that if we did things properly, we could train in such a way that would allow for constant improvement of all facets of fitness that we could test and re-test right before the race. He thought it would be a real achievement to be the only one in the race who could say they not only ran a solid race that met their goal (in this case sub 24-hours), but that they also PR’d all their lifts in the 2 weeks preceding the race.

He proposed a 6-month training program that would allow for the steady improvement of strength, speed, power, endurance and health. Sign me up. If I could keep making gains and run a decent race it would be a tremendous victory.

Fast forwarding to the outcome of this little endeavor: I averaged a meager 20 miles a week for the 6 months prior to WS. I trained my ass off in the gym and was full of energy and healthy. When we retested 2 weeks before the race I’d increased my back squat (260), front squat (230), CGBP (240), power clean (195), weighted pull-up (126), dropped my 500m row PR (1:28.4) and matched my strict press PR (150). There was only one lift I didn’t PR (dead lift) and it is because I’m an idiot and got greedy (350 vs. 370).

All of my other lifts, working weights, rep schemes etc. also improved dramatically. While the strength is better than ever, my conditioning also reached a level I’ve not experienced before. I’d notice how low my heart rate was during everything I did and when I did run, my speed had greatly improved while my effort level and recovery times were a thing of beauty.

I’d been running 1 to 2 times a week (at a MAF HR) until 6 weeks out when we added track work consisting of (up to) 12 x 800s at 90% with full recovery.

So I thought, “this is great, I’m stronger and faster than I was but what’s going to happen at the end of 100-miler since I don’t have very many miles on my legs?” What about the endurance component that I’d built up in years past with hours upon hours on my feet?

I was pretty nervous but again, trusted the process. On race day, not only did I beat my 24-hr goal (23:10), but I did so very easily and without any significant discomfort. The most amazing thing about this entire experiment is that I ran even 50-mile splits AND ran all the up hills to the very end of the race.

This is a concept that just blows me away – I improved my running endurance dramatically and achieved a PR for mountain 100-milers as a result of running 20 miles a week. Book end that with even 50-mile splits and a faster 500m row time and you’ve really got something.

2014

  • Miles run – 521 (6 mos. preceding WS100 – including LS50 and Miwok)
  • Vertical Ft. – 89,108
  • Hrs. Run – 100
  • Avg. miles per week – 20
  • Race result 23:10

    2013 (6 months preceding UTMB)

  • Miles run – 1,321
  • Vertical Ft. – 193,000
  • Hrs. Run – 257
  • Average miles per week – 51
  • Race result 36:20
  • Plus lots of CF

    2012 (6 months preceding AC100)

  • Miles run – 1,225
  • Vertical Ft. – 172,000
  • Hrs. Run – 281
  • Avg. miles per week – 47
  • Race result – 23:21
  • Plus lots of CF

While I’d like to say I never doubted the outcome, I’ll admit I’m pleasantly surprised. And if you told me I’d achieve sub-24 hrs. by running even splits on just 20 miles a week, I’d say you were high.

I’m sure there are plenty of success stories piling up out there but I’m not too sure there are many that involve running even splits at Western States. I’ll be there first person to say – I had nothing to do with this – I just committed to a great plan and followed the programming exactly how it was written. I really appreciate what you guys like you and Marcus do and the confidence you have in your programs.

As cool as this all is, I’m still done running ultras. I just hope others can benefit from this experience. Celebrated my finish by wearing a CFE shirt for the awards.

Steve Crane

One Response to “Western States 100 and CrossFit Endurance”

  1. Marcus July 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Steve is an exceptional athlete in many ways. But more importantly he is an exceptional human being. Thanks for trusting in our process. Steve takes ownership over his missteps but rarely takes ownership for his successes. Well my man, you deserve a ton of credit on this one. Congrats on a beautiful em do a very successful career. On to the next goal!

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