Last week, to celebrate the official start of summer — and the hotter-than-hot weather that goes along with it — The Greatist Team took to the streets with NYC Endurance, a crew of dedicated coaches and athletes who train runners using CrossFit methodology. Unlike many traditional training plans that concentrate on gaining distance, the team at NYC Endurance focuses on shorter, more intense sessions that focus first on technique — and hopefully reduce the chance of injury in the process. So we laced up, hydrated, and eagerly set out to put their “Train Less, Go Faster!” motto to the test.

Photo by Kate Morin

To improve, though, we’d need to get a better idea of where we were starting. Coaches Brian Harkins and Rick Gawley started us off with some 500-meter laps around the block as they hid out in the bustling urban landscape to film our form. After four exhausting laps weaving through pedestrians, we headed inside for a (much needed) lesson on running training and form. We listened to a detailed presentation of the CrossFit Endurance methodology, which avoids long distance training runs in favor of shorter, faster sessions to train multiple metabolic pathways. They also spend more time in the gym than on the track, using CrossFit workouts to build strength and supplement their conditioning. Coach Harkins explained that while many running programs call for 50-plus miles per week, NYC Endurance runners typically log under 20 while still staying in top form for the occasional longer race.

Though none of us expected to run an impromptu marathon the following day, the logic seemed sound, and the more experienced runners among us seemed positively elated at the possibility of cutting back on mileage while keeping in shape. Next came drills — upon drills, upon drills — on proper running form, where the coaches drilled us out of our inefficient running habits. We hopped, skipped, and eventually jogged our way into a hamstring-dominate stride that reduced time on the ground and allowed us to work with gravity to propel ourselves forward.

After learning proper form, we got to watch the pre-drill footage and hone in on individual errors (though I personally would have liked to have seen my shuttle-along gait before the technique clinic). After that, it was back to the block so the coaches could film the new spring in our steps and show us what difference an afternoon of training can make. We weren’t all pros (yet), but our “after” videos definitely showed improvement from earlier that afternoon.

For more on NYC Endurance and to learn how to get involved, visit their site and follow them on Twitter.

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