The old saying goes that “rappers wanna be ballers and ballers wanna be rappers”.
Why are we starting things off with this seemingly irrelevant quote? Well, it’s kinda related to the well known “fact” that “runners wanna be CrossFitters and CrossFitters wanna be runners”.
…yeah, you got me; this isn’t even mildly true!
However, if you’ve been into CrossFit for…I don’t know…at least a week, you know how important running is and how much CrossFit running workouts are programmed. I know a lot of you got into CrossFit so you could get your cardio in without having to hit the track…and you got tricked.
Whether you come across a running WOD and cringe or beam with delight (and if you’re in the latter camp, you’re weird) you may as well get used to them because they come up a lot. You also may as well do one of the best CrossFit running workouts!
Table of Contents
The 22 Best CrossFit Running Workouts
When “normal” running just isn’t enough, you can do it with pull-ups, squat cleans, and backpedaling thrown in to spice things up. Here we go!
You clicked on this article because you wanted a running WOD…and I present to you a purely running WOD. Don’t want to run backwards? That’s your problem.
You’re supposed to be “ready for ‘anything'” in CrossFit, remember?
Truth be told, this is a pretty fun one, especially if you have a (level/even) track to yourself. Get to the gym/track early and give this one a go.
This was the very first event at the 2019 CrossFit Games. If you remember this was the year that they let, like, everyone compete at the Games.
As obnoxious as this was to watch, it is actually pretty awesome; if you can do a single legless rope climb, you’re ahead of a lot of “CrossFit Games” athletes.
Hyrox…haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry! Most people in the world haven’t heard of this CrossFit-adjacent sport…yet.
Get ready, though; it is getting really popular, really fast.
Being that athletes always have to run 5-plus miles, get ready for a lot of running in any Hyrox “practice” workout. By round three, you’ll be wishing for a barbell exercise!
One of the old school “CrossFit Girls” workouts, Eva is about as “classic CrossFit” as a CrossFit running workout can be. I mean, when was the last time you actually did an American kettlebell swing?
Anyways, at 5 rounds, you’re accumulating close to a 5k, with 150 swings and 150 pull-ups thrown in. If you’re one of the “Elite” who can handle this one in under 26 minutes, I want to talk to you!
This is one of those CrossFit running workouts where, combined with the other “thing” you have to do (over 200 weighted squats!), your legs feel destroyed afterwards…
…and are completely unusable for a day or two afterwards.
One of the most infamous CrossFit Hero workouts, save this one for when you’ve got nothing to do for the rest of the week!
Of course Murph was going to make this list. We’ve discussed Murph a lot of this site and you can find our age-group good times to beat and Murph workouts for beginner articles and associated commentary.
Besides being a grinder, this one requires a little bit of planning to really do well at; pace wrong and that second mile is…not fun.
Also, notice how we don’t mention the “optional” weighted vest in the workout description. If you want a real challenge, I think you know what you have to do!
You know you got work to do when the 3-mile run is essentially the “cash out” in a workout!
To be fair, this is a pretty good epitome of a “chipper workout” in the sense that if you just put your head down, you can just keep grinding through this one. Not the fastest rower, runner, or a double-under maestro? Doesn’t matter; the vast majority of people just look at this one…and decide to look the other way.
Even if you can’t go “elite” on this one, it’s a fun one for “cardio day”.
Who doesn’t love a little running and devil’s pressing? I have not idea who Eleanor is, but she certainly does!
The devil’s press is a newer CrossFit movement, but you see them a lot these days. Having done…a few, I can assure you that 100 devil’s presses definitely trumps either of the mile runs on this one.
That workout intro got you a little down? Here’s some Van Halen to cheer you up!
Loredo is one of those classic “man, this doesn’t look too hard!” types of workouts…that ends up smoking your legs.
Like, seriously, this one hurts!
The combination of the squats, lunges, and running takes a toll with some push-ups thrown in for good measure. Maybe not one of the “classic” CrossFit running workouts, but a good entry, nonetheless!
800-meter runs, although not unprecedented, are not nearly as common as the “standard” 400-meter runs that we’ve all come to love in CrossFit running workouts.
Back extensions on the other hand…well…I can’t imagine that you’re regularly working these into your programming. Because of this, Michael is really disorienting.
If you’re laughing at me right now, thinking “c’mon; it can’t be that hard”…fair enough; make it 50 GHD back extensions…and 50 GHD sit-ups each round.
Now sit down and shut up!
There is something humbling about looking at a 95-pound barbell and just dreading having to perform another squat clean.
Like, who has trouble with ninety-five pound cleans?
Well, I can assure you that by rep 20 of the first round, they feel hard. By rep 10 of the second round, they feel horrible. And by rep 0 of the last round…you better hope nobody walks in to find you struggling to stand up the bar with a couple of 25’s on each side.
2021 CrossFit Games Event 3
When I was in Sofia, Bulgaria for my CrossFit Level 1 seminar, I randomly got to talking to one of the instructors about this workout.
“It’s so great!” he said in his heavy Polish accent! “550 yards! Who runs 550 yards? This is CrossFit! The unknown and the unknowable!”
I wasn’t (nearly) as excited as he was, but I understood his point. However, after watching the 2021 CrossFit Games, every male viewer probably went out and tested his 550 time, praying that he could beat Brooke Wells and Tia (or maybe that was just me…)
A classic “CrossFit Girls” WOD, Nancy is one of those workouts where the localized fatigue (in the legs, naturally) creeps up and up each round. Each round of overhead squats gets more and more taxing with those final 15 feeling like your legs are about to implode.
You know how you usually hate when the run is the last thing you have to do in a workout? I can assure you that in Nancy, trotting up to that barbell for the last time may be the most depressing few moments of your life.
Another one of the classic Girls of CrossFit running workouts, Helen experienced a bit of resurgent popularity during the 2023 CrossFit Games. While age-group athletes took on the “standard” version of the workout, the “Rx” men and women swapped out the pull-ups and swings for bar muscle-ups and dumbbell snatches.
By all means, give the “elite” version of this one a go if you must. Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying my ability to operate for the rest of the day by opting for running, kettlebell swings and kipping pull-ups!
2023 CrossFit Open Workout 23.2A
I included Part B of this workout for good measure, but Part A is where the real running “magic” takes place!
In recent years, CrossFit has become obsessed with the shuttle run. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if everyone associated with CrossFit wasn’t obsessed with it as well. I mean, you can’t sign up for a competition qualifier these days without having to perform some ridiculous number of shuttle runs!
My advice? Give this 15-minute AMRAP your all and really find out where you stand with this new, novel, and very popular CrossFit movement. You’re going to be seeing it a lot in the coming years!
Three Fathers has heavy Murph vibes, although it is a bit of a “pick your poison” type of relationship between the two. Everyone will probably appreciate the shorter runs, but…would you rather perform 100 pull-ups and 200 push-ups or 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups?
I assume that most people think that they will be in the sit-up camp, but if this you…let me know how you feel about this decision come rep ~140!
Ohh…and about those shorter runs…all this means is that you have to do them a lot faster than you would complete the bookend runs in Murph. You do want to clock an “elite” time, don’t you?
2023 CrossFit Age-Group Qualifier WOD 3
Remember what I said about those shuttle runs a few workouts back? Well, if you were “lucky” enough to make it to the CrossFit “play-offs”, your reward in this WOD was roughly a mile of shuttle running.
Now, I didn’t perform this one myself, but I can only imagine the combination of fatigue and dizziness that accompanies so many shuttle runs. The funny thing is, nobody ever really discusses the rope climbs or bench press reps; 100 shuttle runs truly steal the show with this one.
I don’t really like box jumps and I loathe wall ball shots. As such, Kelly is probably (definitely) my most hated of the CrossFit running workouts. I mean, you essentially have Karen with a 1 and 1/4-mile run and 150 box jumps.
The late, great, Charlie Murphy has the best quote to describe your legs during and after this one:
“his legs was like linguini”
There are some…compassionate people out there who allow athletes to split up the work here however they like. Maybe you’ll meet one of these people some day.
I’m sure that the first thing that everybody wants to do after finishing a nice, easy 10-mile jog is a “few” burpee pull-ups.
(If the thought of this workout upsets you…well…you did click on an article titled “The 22 Best CrossFit Running Workouts”!)
“Only” one mile to start this one…and then a bunch of bodyweight CrossFit movements.
I dare you to finish two miles in this one…dare you!
Bull is not only a top hero workout, but also graces this list of the hardest CrossFit workouts of all time.
With social proof and street cred like that, how can you say no?!
I did a version of this one when I was living in Spain a few years back. It was slightly scaled: double-unders were substituted with mountain climbers, we started with the mile each round, and…we got to split the work with a partner.
It was still really hard…best of luck with this one!
2023 CrossFit Games Event 7
Think about what you know about CrossFit athletes. The top dawgs are really good at a lot of movements…but few are truly elite at any of them.
Now look at those “5K” times for this one…a lot of really good times put up on this one!
Of course, it was later revealed that the organizers accidently counted off 5,000 yards (or close to 4,600 meters) for this one, resulting in some jaw-dropping times (at least as far as CrossFit athlete times are concerned). With this in mind, I’ll leave it up to you on how you want to tackle this CrossFit running workout (5,000 yards or 5,000 meters)!
(afterwards, check out how you stack up by reading our article on the average 5k times by age!)
Yeah, I get it…running is hard.
Running workouts are really hard.
…and, depending on how you feel about it, CrossFit running workouts can be torture.
However, these workouts not only help you build stamina and have a lot of crossover appeal (when I won the Chick fil-A Race Series, I CrossFitted 4 days a week and only “solely” ran 2!) Additionally, nothing builds more mental grit and fortitude than grinding through that last 400-meter run of the last round of one of these WODs.
Suck it up and get running; it could definitely be worse!
If you’ve been running and want to see how your efforts have helped you to improve, check out our list of the essential CrossFit benchmark workouts where we do a deep dive into the 400, 5K, and Murph among others!