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Fall for Running – by Coach Patrick

I could hear the squeals of glee and the cries of desperation when the June focus of running was released! Running is so often a love or hate relationship, I’ve not met too many people who are casually lukewarm about the prospect and act of getting their ancestral locomotion on.

That being said, we are going to spend this month working on running technique and mobility to turn all of us into more efficient runners. Let’s look at some of the perspective we are taking for this month’s focus…

Every movement in CrossFit has an ideal and most efficient way of performing that movement. Whether it is the squat, deadlift, muscle-up, double-under, Olympic lifts, or something we’ve made up watching too many Chuck Norris movies; everything has a standard and best practice start and finish position in addition to how best to perform the movement from the start to the finish.

You’ll notice us coaching you on cues from setting up your beginning position, how to better end your movement, or things to make your movement technically improved during the movement.

Running is no different.

Let that sink in a bit. Most of us, unless trained formally for a run-specific sport have never broached the idea that running has an ideal form and position. As kiddos, we basically learn to use our neck, roll over, crawl, walk, and then baby deer sprint.

This month we are converting some of our old baby deer bad habits into efficient positions and techniques that should make running easier, safer, and more in line with doing less work for greater gain.

There is a plethora of amazing information about efficient running technique as it relates to using gravitational force, muscle elasticity, proper torque, and stride cadence. We will cover many of these cursorily but for the sake of time we are going to focus primarily on the following three things that you should definitely keep in mind and always focus on with running: posture, the lean(fall), and the pull.


  • Much like double-unders, we are looking for a quiet body when we run. This means we want the things that should be moving to move in the way we want but minimize everything else that doesn’t translate to the overall movement.
  • Head should be set up so that it is neutral and aligned with the spine, you’ll hearing coaches referring to the “gun” or “L” to address this during classes.
  • Shoulders should be down and relaxed (relaxation translates to a more quiet body than contraction does).
  • Elbows next to our sides, with elbows bent at slightly less than 90 degrees; this will help prevent over-rotation or cross-rotation (meaning the left arm crosses over the centerline of body to the right plane during the stride, a no-no).

Lean (Fall)

  • Running is the art of controlled falling, over and over again, utilizing gravity, our muscle elasticity, and proper form to keep resetting ourselves to safely continue to fall.
  • Lean should be generated from ankles, not torso or hips.
  • Try to keep all other joints above the knees stacked (so no bend at waist or torso leaning forward).
  • Speed is governed by lean, meaning that if we want to go faster, we lean more (but ONLY if we can maintain proper body position and mechanics)
  • Don’t need a lot of lean to go fast, but do need control and consistency with lean and body. For example, in an ideal and constant situation, a 5 degree lean constitutes a 4:08 mile time. How many of us run that fast? I didn’t think so, that’s because we start doing all sorts of things with our bodies that create fatigue, undue exertion, or deceleration (many of us fight against ourselves and gravity when we run).


  • Use mid foot strike with quick ground contact under center of mass as it passes over (no landing in front or heel striking)
  • Use hamstrings to quickly pull leg straight up into “Figure 4” position
  • Ground reaction and muscle elasticity is used instead of muscular energy
  • Lean is gas, pull is exhaust

Clear as mud? Perfect. Don’t worry, we’ve lots of drills to work from basic concepts to advanced skills. This is just to get us all up to speed so when coaches start telling you to lean you don’t try to get into your best limbo position or start jamming to your favorite Terror Squad song.

As always, we’re here for questions as they come up, and are excited to get our Forrest Gump on with all of you this month!

Member Stories – Paulla Santos

Hello, everyone! Thanks for checking out my member story!

As a child, I spent a lot of time hiking the various forests in the Pacific Northwest and playing different sports. During my first couple years of college, I played for the University of Oregon Women’s Rugby Team and played in the UO Marching Band.

Being active had always been a part of my life. However, during my last two years at the UO, I became more involved in research as a history student. I was busy writing my honors thesis and during that time I paid little attention to my diet and did not take time to exercise.

I began to notice various changes with my body. Specifically, my energy level was incredibly low and my heart and back started to ache as well. After many failed attempts to get back to my active lifestyle, I decided to give it another shot a few weeks before graduation.

I started slow rather than trying to do too much, too soon like I had previously done. I removed various food and drinks from my diet such as soda, sweets, and other high calorie foods. I also decided to walk everywhere I went. By the time I moved to Madison, Wisconsin for graduate school, I had lost approximately 35 lbs. in about four months.

One day in the of Fall 2016, I decided that I wanted to take my fitness journey to the next level. In addition, I wanted to maintain a more balanced lifestyle when it came to school and my mental/physical health. Many people have told me that I would really enjoy CrossFit and so happens CrossFit Recursive is only about a 10-15 minute walk from my apartment.

Long story short, I absolutely love CrossFit. The structure and variety of workouts, and the supportive community are among my top reasons why I enjoy going to the gym.

I have been a member for about 7 months and I have yet to see a repeated workout. There is always something new that will push me in various ways and I find that incredibly exciting.

The community is amazing. I came to the gym immensely self conscious knowing that I was much weaker than how I was during my rugby days. However, with the support of the Recursive coaches and other members, I have regained my confidence. They always have encouraging things to say and their suggestions push me to be a stronger and more efficient lifter.

My personal record of 110lbs. for bench press and my PR of 245lbs. for deadlift are my proudest moments at the gym thus far. Experiences like these prepared me for my return to the rugby pitch during the UO alumni weekend in May 2017.

Now I intend to train for my first CrossFit competition. Here’s to continued growth at CrossFit Recursive and thanks again for reading!

Member Spotlight – Sean Miran

First CrossFit work out?
My first Crossfit workout Was at CrossFit Paradox in Downers Grove, Illinois in June of 2013. It was 3 rounds for time of 50 Wall Balls at 20/14 and 15 burpee-pullups. I definitely hit the time cap.

My first workout at CFR was supposed to be:
Front Squats
Push Press
Ground to Overhead

But I Split my head open on the stabilizing bar on the rig while doing a gymnastics kip on one of the bars. I spent the rest of that first class holding a paper towel to my head to try to stop the bleeding.

The first WOD I completed at CFR was
6 Rounds
10 Burpee Broad Jump (70% of your 1RM from earlier today)
30 Double Unders

That one, I definitely scaled the double unders with twice as many singles.

How did you find CrossFit Recursive?
We did CrossFit when we were living in Chicagoland. When we moved back to Madison, we wanted to get back into it so Marnie started googling places. When we read that Recursive had a dedicated kids space, we knew that Recursive was the first place we had to try.

What has been the most fun so far?
The big group events- I loved the competition for Joe and Rina, and I loved doing The Open. The atmosphere at Recursive with so many people there was so inspiring, and definitely reinforced for me how great our community is at Recursive.

Something we might not know about you?
I was a nationally certified gymnastics Judge, and I coached gymnastics for 20 years-until the end of 2013.

Family Medicine Physician at Meriter’s West Washington Clinic in Madison.

Favorite CrossFit Movement?
Muscle-ups; really anything gymnastic that makes me look like I’m a better CrossFitter than I really am.

Least Favorite CrossFit movement?
Double Unders. No contest. I don’t like them, they don’t like me.

Your ideal WOD?
Something short, a gymnastics movement coupled with a barbell movement.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment so far?
Finishing 17.5 as prescribed under the time cap.

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit?
Technology, nutrition, science fiction/fantasy, gymnastics, Michigan State University sports.

Member Stories – Samantha Taylor

Hi friends!  I’m a busy working mom of two littles, Vivian (3) and Crosby (2).  I work for UW Organ and Tissue Donation and do a lot of in-state travel for my job.  In fact, it’s a lot of spur-of-the-moment travel for my job as I work mostly on-call.  Finding a workout routine that works for my personal and professional life was challenging.

How in the world did I end up in CrossFit…?  I’m glad you asked.   I’ve always been an active, even athletic, person but never very strong.  I stayed fairly fit through college and graduate school with activities like Pilates, spin, running, and beer-drinking (I hear it has many health benefits).

After grad school I even trained for and completed a marathon in 2010 but in doing so, I did some damage to my knee and running became painful and less enjoyable.  Fast forward a few years and I’m expecting my first baby, due in September of 2013.  What a joy!

Ten short months after little Vivian was born, I found out I was expecting my second child.  What a shock! My body was no longer my own and my time was prioritized away from the gym.

As the spring of 2016 approached I had a two year old and a one year old at home. I was finally no longer an incubator nor a food truck for any tiny humans and I was aching to get back into an exercise routine.  I needed it both physically and mentally.

I knew my days of wandering around the weights, getting on the treadmill, and just seeing “how I feel” that day were over.  It was time to get to work.  Extra time was not something I had with two toddlers at home along with a demanding professional schedule and I knew I needed three things out of a new work-out routine: I needed something challenging, I needed something structured, and I needed something time-efficient.

I wasn’t looking to lose weight; I wanted to get stronger.  I wanted lifting my kids into the cart at Costco to be a piece of cake, rather than a comedy act some might actually pay money to see.  (My kids tend to run on the big side….)

Enter CrossFit Recursive.  I saw an ad for the six-week New You program and, honestly, at first I was hesitant.  I recall years ago the CrossFit Games being on TV in my living room when my fitness-freak brother-in-law was living with us and I remember thinking “stupid CrossFit”.

What I was really feeling was, “stupid brother in law – when are you going to get your own place?!”.  I put my past judgments aside and jumped in.  I figured a six-week introduction class with all women could quite possibly be the least intimidating environment for a person jumping back in to the workout scene.  When I met with the coach to discuss goals and I learned her name was Vivian.  If that wasn’t a sign of good things to come, what would be?

I completed the six week program and was in love.  Now I needed to figure out how I was going to swing this financially.  Two kids in daycare… woof.  My mind was made up when I was talking with my mom about how much I loved CrossFit.  I talked to her about how I was likely not going to continue, even though I was loving how it made me feel, and she said, “Don’t you dare.  This is the only thing you do for yourself.”  Sold.

I became a girl on a mission and I found a way. Now I get to see all of your lovely faces 13 times a month, pushing me to do one more burpee, challenging me to put just a little more weight on that barbell, encouraging me to get to the top of that rope – which I did for the FIRST time in my life about a month ago!!

My next goal is to get my long skinny arms and torso to pull my chin above that bar for a legit pull up. Because of the amazing coaches and supportive class-mates, I know I’ll get there eventually!

It’s nice to hear people say, “you look great” but what’s truly better is to feel great. Thank you all for making this beanpole frame feel like she can move mountains (or at least throw a little weight around).  

Member Stories – Stacy Anderson

My first exposure to CrossFit was hearing my college roommate, brother, and then boyfriend talk about it. They would tell me about how constantly varied it was, how many people they met, so on and so forth… you’ve probably heard it all before.

“You’d love it!” No. Nope. These were three athletic, six pack-ed, dudes. Can’t trust ‘em. People have always mistaken me for athletic, but really I was just skinny and could (maybe, barely) run a mile most of my life. Definitely couldn’t do a pull-up, couldn’t do a push-up. Didn’t know what a double under even was. Needless to say, I never joined them. This all started in 2010.

Fast-forward five years. I wanted to get in shape and would occasionally go to the gym, asking my friends to help me figure out what to do (and often getting very questionable advice).

I tried my hand at distance running. I kept hearing the kool-aid drinking CrossFitters wax poetic about it. But you’re reading this on a CrossFit site – you know where this is going!

The turning point was when I was in a brewery (typical) and some friends of friends who showed up had just come straight from a CrossFit Foundations class. They looked like normal people, and the girl had this smile on her face when she talked about it.

“It’s hard but everyone is so nice and I’m really liking it so far!” This girl! I could trust this girl. She was so happy and mentioned how clearly everything was explained and that everything was scalable. And, just like that, I figured I would at least give Foundations a try.

Here we are, 300 (!!!) classes later. I can do pull-ups. I can do push-ups. I can do a rope climb, which I never even did in elementary school gym class. All the coaches know who I am and (don’t tell my former self, she’ll never believe you.)

I’m actually excited to go to the 6:30am class. It’s nice to start the day working hard with a crew of people who don’t look at their phones once, having someone else do the programming, and especially having coaches there to keep you safe and push you a little when they know you can do better. We all just show up, put in the work, and cheer each other on at the end.

And I know how cheesy this sounds, but CrossFit has made me more confident in myself even outside the gym – if I can do this, everything else is easy.

Member Stories – Lauren Sichterman

Dear “Normal Gym,”

We’re over. It’s not me, it’s you.

Let’s start at the beginning. I graduated college in May 2015, and that’s when I promised to spend more time with you. I was in decent shape; I went from a brief stint as a Division 1 swimmer to walking 8-10 miles per day for school and work. However, I found it hard to fit you into my new lifestyle. Sure, call me lazy.

I’ll admit it: I never made you a priority. You were boring. I’d always worked with a coach or relied on functional fitness; I had no idea how to program a workout that would appropriately challenge me. Our workouts consisted of a few half-assed minutes on a cardio machine and a gander around the weight room. I guess you just couldn’t satisfy me.

After almost year of avoiding you altogether, a ten-year-old asked if I would be her jogging partner in a 5K and I had to decline because I honestly didn’t think I could keep up with her. I’d never been more embarrassed!

In a moment of desperation, I signed up for CrossFit Recursive’s May 2016 New You Challenge.  I had never tried CrossFit before, but they advertised attentive coaches, nutrition advice, and workouts that would push my limits. You should know: I’ve been seeing them ever since.

I’m sorry if this is a lot to take in.

“Normal gym,” after just a few months of CrossFit, I overcame my fear by running 5K in a WOD. I was encouraged by an enthusiastic coach and cheered on by a group of athletes who focused only on my accomplishment, not on my struggle to get there. Finally, I was a member of a team again. You never gave me that kind of support.

Throughout the next year, I learned Olympic lifts, mastered the rope climb, and competed in the CrossFit Open. In May 2017, I ran my first half marathon. I’m sure you didn’t see that coming!

With Recursive, I never lose motivation and I’m never bored. Each workout is different and there’s always a new skill to learn or perfect.  Recursive’s coaches are so knowledgeable and patient. My fellow athletes always have me laughing, even through the toughest workouts. I may go into Recursive sleepy or grumpy, but I never leave in a bad mood. I can’t imagine a better way to get fit.

CrossFit has given me the no-brainer healthy lifestyle that I needed.  All I have to do is show up and follow directions to notice BIG results. I have so much more confidence to do whatever activities life tosses in my direction.

Best of all, Recursive has given me a community. I spend every morning with my friends. I’m proud to be a member of a notoriously welcoming group of coaches and athletes. We all have different fitness backgrounds and goals, but we all crush the workouts respective to that. Together.

What we had was never sustainable. What I have with Recursive is real, and our journey is just beginning. I’m feeling better than ever.

Goodbye and good riddance,


Member Stories – Rachel Strauch-Nelson

 A couple of years ago, I decided to make some changes in my life. I wasn’t happy with my health or how I felt about myself and realized it was time to do something about it. I started working out more, eating right, and finally, after some persuading from friends, decided to try CrossFit.

My friends (including Todd Kinsman) were pretty convincing, but they also just wouldn’t stop talking about it, so I figured it was time to get in on the conversation.

When I started at Recursive, I brought a lot of nervousness with me, not much confidence, and a very fixed view of myself. I don’t have an athletic background and thought that being an athlete or just being fit was not necessarily part of who I am.

I had also barely ever touched a barbell or done any of the movements we do in class. My first class included handstand push ups and pistols, and somehow, the coaches and community convinced me to come back.

What I’ve learned from being at Recursive is that I’m capable of a lot more of than I thought. It feels great to know how much I’ve grown from that first day and how much more I can grow in the future. Cultivating that growth mindset has helped me at the gym, and also in many other parts of my life.

Plus, it’s ton of fun to come to the gym. I used to be afraid of working out with other people, but now I look forward to coming in and seeing everyone here. Even though I’m usually one of the quieter people in class, the community is a huge part of why I keep coming back.

Especially at Recursive, everyone is accepting of others, inclusive, and ready to support you wherever you’re at. I always leave feeling proud of what I’ve accomplished and uplifted by the community.

I think I held off on writing this because it can sound a little cheesy, but it turns out it’s all true. After being part of this community, I am stronger, have more confidence and know that I’m always capable of more.

And now, just like my friends who convinced me to try it, I am one of those people who won’t stop talking about how great our gym is.

Member Stories – Natalie Huschka

Officer Training School (OTS) or as most people know it as, is boot camp.  When I went to OTS I had 12 years under my belt in the Air Force. I had already been through enlisted boot camp so I had a general idea of what to expect.

I am no spring-chicken, so I worked hard to prepare for the physical fitness portion, doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), before leaving for eight weeks. I enjoyed this type of workout, it offered variety and it improved my overall fitness. It wouldn’t be until I left for another 10 weeks, one year after OTS that I finally tried CrossFit.

I was in Biloxi, MS and found a box that just happened to be having an “On-Ramp” program.  I thought if I liked this CrossFit stuff, it would work out perfect that I would do the beginner course for one month and spend the second month to really get “ripped” before I came back to WI.

Before my first session, I spent an hour talking to the gym owner on the phone about where I was currently physically, what were my goals, etc.  I was impressed to say the least, no “big box gym” had ever worried whether I would be the right fit for the gym.

I was hooked instantly! I couldn’t believe that after leaving the first night, I knew four of the eight people there, I had never been to a “gym” like that.  And then when I came back, I kept meeting more people, and despite being out of my comfort zone with the weights, terminology, etc. someone always made me feel comfortable or paired up with me on partner WODs.  Oh yeah, and HIIT had nothing on these WODs and METCONs!

When I left for WI, I was sad to leave. I had no idea I would make such good friends and CrossFit could affect me so much more than just physically. I was also sad to leave because I hadn’t reached my goal of getting “ripped” in two months!

I was really shooting for a Jessica Biel circa Blade timeframe (don’t know it, Google it). So I had to find a box ASAP to continue progressing toward my goal!  My husband and I did some research, toured a box but when we walked into CFR and met Coach Patrick, we knew our search was done.

I have been at CFR since October and I love it.  I joined CrossFit to get “ripped”.  I’m still not at my goal but in just under a year of CrossFit I have noticed a huge difference physically (I just need to be more patient and realize I am not an actress hired to film a movie about vampires!)

Being more physically fit isn’t the only thing I got from CrossFit.  Sometimes the military causes members to become segregated by the nature of our profession/lifestyle.  I was eager to be around “civilians” again, get to know the community, people and stories within it.  Little did I know I could find that by doing CrossFit and being at CFR.

I return every morning because I love the physical and mental challenge CrossFit gives me.  I return every morning because I’m wondering how everyone’s weekend went, those of you buying homes for the first time, I want to hear the excitement in your voice, I want to know how seeing the grandbaby was, your weekend visiting parents.

I return every morning because I want each of you to hold me accountable, to push me for one more rep or maybe a little bit more weight than I thought possible, so that I can slay vampires someday soon!

Nutrition Power Hour

You know that Nutrition is the base of the fitness and wellness pyramid – now learn how to put healthy eating habits into practice!

Join Coach Valerie for a 60 minute Nutrition Overview. Learn the basics of Nutrition and Healthy Eating – the how and why of eating for your goals.

You’ll also receive:
Nutrition 101 Handbook
1 Week Meal Plan (written by our Registered Dietitian)
Food Log Journal

This is a great way to get some basic knowledge, try out a meal plan for a week, and see some results!

Cost is just $20 and the first 10 people will receive a complimentary 3 Compartment Food Container – click the date and time below to register now!

Saturday, June 3rd at 10:15am
Monday, June 5th at 6:30pm

Member Stories – Dana Wagner

Basketball has always been a part of my life.  I was lucky enough to be able
to keep playing after high school.  After I graduated college and my basketball career came to an end I felt kind of lost.

All my life I had always been part of a team and suddenly I didn’t have a team and my life lacked structure.  I dabbled in other activities trying to find structure and challenge myself.  But, I always felt like something was missing.  I
really missed being part of a team.

After a few years of searching I found CrossFit Recursive and their six week challenge.  CrossFit had intrigued me for some time but I always intimidated to try and start it on my own.

When I found this six week challenge and saw it was for a small group for beginners I decided to give it a try.  When it came time for the first class I was nervous, but, quickly learned there was no need to be.

I immediately felt welcomed by the group and all the coaches.  And, I’ve continued to feel that way ever since even when I transitioned from the small group class to the regular class.

As I continued to attend CrossFit classes I learned that there would be the opportunity for our class to compete in the CrossFit Open.  I decided to signed up for it and decided to give it a try.

My goal was just to try and finish these workouts.  I looked at the first and decided not to scale it, and, to my surprise I RX’d the entire workout.  After that, I decided to try and RX the other workouts; and, with the support of the coaches and other participants I was able to RX the other workouts too.

CrossFit and competing in the Open has made me realize how much I’m truly capable of.  I love the community of CrossFit Recursive; it has truly filled the void that I was missing for all those years.