Alex Velasquez has a favorite run mapped out. The route starts in front of his house and ends, oh, 300 meters down the street.
The distance – less than a quarter-mile – is not usually included on a triathlon training plan. Then again, the 38-year-old doesn’t train like other multisport athletes.
Rather than spend hours on the bike and running, the CrossFit endurance coach tends to concentrate on short, intense workouts that build strength, speed and agility – such as four rounds of a 300-meter run and 50 double-unders using a jump rope.
“CrossFit endurance really focuses on technique, intensity and volume where as general training – or (long slow distance) training – concentrates on volume, intensity and technique,” he says. “CrossFit endurance really flips that. We don’t want you to run really fast until you have the technique down.”
Velasquez is in his fourth year doing triathlons. He was inspired by a friend who completed the Chicago Marathon.
“At the time, I thought, ‘I’m not a runner but I feel like I was able to run a short distance. What else can I do that’s in the endurance realm?’ And that’s where the triathlon came in,” he says. “I started telling my family that I was going to do a triathlon without ever developing a plan or finding a race just to let people know that I was going to do it for myself. To make myself do it.”
His first event was the KPC Newspaper in Education Triathlon in 2010 and, admittedly, it was a difficult undertaking as Velasquez didn’t have much experience in open water and “gutted out” the bike and run.
“As I was hobbling back to the car, because I was just sore all over, I knew right away that when I got home that I was going to look for the next triathlon to do,” he says. “It just hooked me in.”
The workout: CrossFit endurance
Schedule: Over the course of a week, Velasquez will work out three days, take one day off, work out two days and take one off. His workouts are a mix of CrossFit endurance and “pure” CrossFit workouts as well as Olympic-style lifting at CrossFit Fort Wayne, 829 Lawrence Drive.
Cost: There is a membership fee associated with CrossFit endurance classes such as those Velasquez coaches at CrossFit Fort Wayne, but he says that many workouts can be done at home with no equipment.
“I was doing CrossFit in (the) basement and outside before I finally joined the gym,” he says. “ … There’s no end to what you can mix and match with the routine – jump lunges, push ups, sit ups.”
Favorite gear: “I love my bike,” he says “It’s a Felt G6 – a road bike that I modified for triathlon, with aero bars and seat post. At the time, I didn’t want to put all that money into a pure triathlon bike.”
Recovery: For Velasquez, what he does after a workout is just as important as the workout itself.
“I have been more conscious in the last year or so about different recovery methods and self massage,” he says, adding that he uses lacrosse balls and foam rollers to roll out sore spots and improve mobility. “CrossFit showed me how to take care of my body and the recovery time for my body has been reduced dramatically.”
For beginners: “Everything can be modified,” Velasquez says of CrossFit. “Even though I might push press 135 pounds during a workout, nothing stops you from lifting 65 pounds. You do what you can, and you build up the strength.”
Future goals: This year, Velasquez hopes to complete a 70.3 distance triathlon, which consists of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.
“When I do this 70.3, even a full, that’s going to be my ticket to buy a full-on triathlon bike,” he says.