“Better Together” by Cathy M. Cruz


For 6 weeks I was blessed with coaching a group of dedicated athletes that were ready and willing to embrace the rain, wind, and cold to get a little better at running. During our Fall Running Clinic, I was able to watch them work together to create a delicate balance that offered support and the chance to push their own personal limits. I’ve been coaching since I was just shy of 21 and I’ve learned a lot about what people will do when left to their own devices and what they will do when given a tough task that they’re unsure if they can complete.

We had various workouts that tested personalized pacing, that offered the opportunity to work on running form, and even work on speed and strength. It is the latter situation that made me the most proud during this clinic. I gave my athletes a VERY tough workout that involved a mix of hill and speed training. Honestly, watching them lunge up a hill and then sprint up that hill with minimal rest really made me feel for them. I thought, “Man, maybe this is too much.” Despite three punishing rounds of this, there wasn’t a ton of complaining or stopping during the workout. That day made me the MOST proud of them and it made me consider how I would’ve handled it on my own.

Day 1 of the clinic was a test of the mile run on the track. Running a mile on the track can be easier and more difficult at the same time. You begin to realize just how short a mile is when you’re chasing a ticking clock. Understanding how to pace was one of the biggest focuses of this clinic and the athletes worked hard to learn what their own personal paces were.

Sticking with these designated paces helped gear them toward their final re-test of the mile. All of the athletes that re-tested improved upon their max effort mile time! While this was an important goal for those in the clinic, I also wanted to give them the tools to use what they learned about pacing and apply it to their daily CrossFit workouts. As they set out on a new program cycle, I’m confident that their improved conditioning and confidence in running will carry them forward to successful training results.


ATHLETE Initial Mile Time (Start of Clinic) Final Mile Time (End of Clinic)
****** 8:31 7:35
****** 7:21 7:09
****** 10:18 n/a
****** 12:52 12:09
****** 10:17 9:43
****** 7:02 6:36
****** 10:24 10:01
****** 7:33 7:16
****** 8:31 7:54
****** 9:53 8:41
****** 7:41 7:38

More important than scores, I believe that having a partner or “pace buddy” during the workouts made these athletes stronger. They really were stronger together. That’s what CrossFit and the CrossFit Baltimore family has taught us. We can accomplish so much knowing we have someone right behind us, in front of us, or at our side.