T Nation

Making Gains as a Runner


Yes, this is my first post and I'm already talking about running and bodybuilding at the same time. After reading a recent post where a new member said he likes running, I saw that most of the people who posted said he stopped doing something so stupid.

Unfortunately for me, I HAVE to run. I know I could maximize my gains by not running, but it's part my job description. I need to be able to run X miles in under XX:XX time, I need to be able to do X pullups, X situps, and X pullups.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it just an issue of eating the extra food to make up for the calories lost while running? If I still have the same calorie surplus as the next guy, won't I still make the same gains.. even if I'm running?

I have my next fitness test in a month and I haven't run in a few months. I feel very out of shape cardiovascularly. I've been doing the shut up and train program Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri mornings at 05:30. My plan for the next month and beyond is to add running at about 3 in the afternoon. I will run 6 days a week(1 rest day after my leg day). I will do 3 days of hard running, 3 days of easy recovery running.

What can I do to minimize the negative impact running will have on my lifting? The only thing I can think of is making sure the running and lifting are separated by at least 5 hours, and eating more.
Is there anything else I'm missing?
NOT running isn't an option.

My end goals:
To be able to run 1.5 miles in <9:00
To get consistently bigger than I am without sacrificing too much time off my run, or vice versa
(currently 6', 205lb, ~13-15% bf, currently run 1.5miles in 10:30)


Yep you are right.

Although running excessively is not ideal if your goal is putting on a lot of size (not to mention I think it's really hard on your knees), that doesn't mean you're stuck in a rut. You can still progress if you eat enough.


I'll tell you from having run competitively that the two are difficult. The more miles you run, the more difficult it is to put on any muscle. Your goals make that hard too...see you want to improve on both. I'd go for more of a maintenance on one front and improvement on the other.

Here is how I would do this based off your specific goals.
- Run a lot. Mileage will get you to your goal time quickly. Add some speed work and longer intervals where you see fit. Then when it comes to weights. Try to maintain. Train more focused on strength. Try 5/3/1 as a program and be conservative with training numbers and make small strength gains. Do bodyweight stuff as assistance as you said you need to be able to do pullups and such. You may lose size for a little bit, but you'll be able to put that mass right back on when you lower your mileage (lower your mileage once you are in the running shape necessary)

Eat a lot, focus on strength not size for a little while, get the mileage up until you pass your goal, then lower your mileage and put the mass back on slowly.


This thread is not titled correctly, imo.

You're only trying to run 1.5 miles for a certain time. At most, you would be running 3 miles a day to train for that. "Runners" are hitting at least 50 miles a week. Folks specializing in the mile are oftentimes "tweeners" between sprinters and e.g. 5k/10k runners. You'd be well-served by thinking of yourself in those terms--as an explosive athlete instead of a "runner."

If you're going to run 6 days a week for that goal, just go something like:

Day 1: 3 mile tempo run
Day 2: 6x400m 60 sec rest
Day 3: 3.5mile ez run
Day 4: 3x800m 120 sec rest
Day 5: 2.5 mile fartlek
Day 6: 2 mile tempo

That would put you at 11 miles for the week, with two sprint workouts and a fartlek. If you were too worn down from the 800m work, you could just make the next run an ez run instead of a fartlek.

Most of the milers I know usually did one or two days a week of sprint workouts, and that was enough to really kill them. So, if you're burned out, feel free to cut to one sprinting session a week.

Edit: just to be clear, most milers run more miles than that (usually hit more like 40-50 in season). Due to your goals, you don't need that mileage.


This is not scientific by any means but I would hazard a guess that it is not just extra calories you burn while running that hurt you in the long run. Being natural, your body can only produce so many hormones to respond to all the training stimulus it receives over a certain period of time and distance running is a great way to deplete those you need to recover from strenuous weightlifting. Your probably fine as long as you in your not too old, just expect less gains and if you need to, lower your volume of weight training when your no longer gaining if you can't nix the running


I figured I'd have to do something like that. Once I reach my running goal of 1.5mile/9:00min what kind of mileage do you think I would need to maintain?

I am planning on doing my bodyweight training after every run. Basically I'm doing my lifting(for my personal goals) in the morning, and all of the "for the job" stuff in the afternoon(running, bodyweight training, etc.). Is doing bodyweight training 6x a week going to be too much? The most I'd be doing is 3x50 pushups, situps, 3x10 pullups. Also what kind of mileage do you have in mind?

I know it's a fairly short run. I used to run 40-60mi/week last year when I was training for the 3mi run, but I dropped down to 165 when I was doing that, don't want to get anywhere near that again. Also, I figured that for a bodybuilding forum, and amount of running would make me a runner.

I agree that I don't need that high milage. As far as my running program goes, I was planning on switching things up on a week to week basis.
Week1: Tempo/Pace-per-mile running. 2 days of of 1-2 miles as fast as I can, 3 days of recovery running. 1 day of hard cross training(rowing/swimming)
Week2: Medium interval: 800s/400s, same pattern above, 2 hard days, 3 recovery, 1 hard cross training
Week3: Sprinting: Same pattern as above, but the 2 hard days will be short sprints.
Week4: Misc: Fartlek, weight vest running, etc.

I wouldn't necessarily do these in order, I would just pick randomly at the beginning of the week. Do you think I'm better mixing these all up within one week?

Also, any opinion on what I should be doing for my strength/size goals during this? Guiness mentioned above 5/3/1 and focusing on strength not size while I get my run down, I'm wondering what others think about this. Like I said, I'm doing the shut up and train 4days/week split right now. I figured that was a nice and basic program, but I'm open to suggestion.


I like the3Com... workout, except, I would only do three days a week. 1 easy run (to build endurance), 1 tempo (to build speed) and one hill/fartlek/sprints (mix it up, they are there to build strenght/speed)

5/3/1 is fine. I would start with 3 days a week template, to give your body time to adjust (4-6 months), after that, well, we revisit.

Do what you like on your day off. I like going to the gym and working on mobility, extra stretching, band work, etc.


I think you can do the high frequency bodyweight exercises if you avoid going to failure frequently. I do pullups almost every day. I think since you need to improve a full minute and a half you will want to do more than 11 miles a week...maybe 20. Since you ran 50-60 before, you must feel that mileage benefits you. I think if you are in that area of 20 miles per week you can still recover for lifting.

3com's workouts are good. 6x400 and 3x800 were exactly what I was going to prescribe for intervals. I would just add some more EASY mileage in there to get you up to around 20 like I said. I'm saying this because I have a feeling you respond to mileage since you've done it before, and I know it will get you to that level of improvement quicker since your goal of 9:00 hardly has anything to do with speed. It is a middle distance race event, but all you need to do for speed work is race pace intervals a few 50 meter strides to get you there if your endurance is in place.

I recommended 5/3/1 because 1. I would focus on strength rather than size at this time. 2. I'm doing the program and like it. 3. Consistently doing the compound movements will keep you badass and not turn into a weakling. 4. It allows you to have freedom in assistance work and bodyweight stuff is perfect. However, I'd say do whatever you enjoy for lifting because you will need to enjoy your program when balancing all these goals.. 5/3/1 will give you structure if you struggle with it structure since again you are juggling a lot.

What exactly is shut up and train?


I like your reasoning guiness. When I did my 50-60 miles I was doing my roommates HS cross country program. I ramped up 10 miles per week starting at 10 and went to 40-60 and hung there for a while. I went from a crawling 22:00+ 3-miler to an 18:55 and a 10:23 1.5mile to a sub 9:00 in about a month, so I obviously do respond to mileage. I did, however, also drop from 190lb to high 160s. I think compromising with 20mi/week is a good place to start. Thanks for the advice, I hadn't thought of it in those terms

As far as my actual running plan, sticking to those longer intervals sounds good to me. Here's what I have in mind based on what you and 3com have said:
I think I'll need 7 days to get my 20 miles in without overdoing it on any given day
Day 1: 5 Mile Long Run (easy pace)
Day 2: 6x400@race pace, 60s rest (1.5 miles)
Day 3: 4 Mile Recovery run (Fastest mile pace + :45 per mile) (I think some call this tempo run)
Day 4: 3x800@race pace, 120s rest (1.5 miles)
Day 5: 4 Mile Recovery/Tempo run
Day 6: Hard Rowing or Swimming for longer times (ex: 3 sets of 5:00). I might substitute Fartlek.
Day 7: 3 mile recovery run

One question:
Once I reach my goal run times, just cut down on the recovery runs and keep the sprints the same? Would about 10-12 miles/week be good for maintenance?

As far as the lifting side of things goes:
Shut up and train is a lifting program I came across when I first found this website (a few months ago). Just search "shut up program" if you want to see it. I thought it was one of the more popular ones but I've seen 5/3/1 a lot more since joining the forums. 5/3/1 looks like a good program, I'm guessing I should keep it simple and not do the BBB variant. Maybe do the triumvirate variant listed in the 5/3/1 article? Ideas?

Also, as far as supplementation, I only take ON 100% Whey protein, 2 scoops a day. Should I be adding other stuff since I'm running so much? (other than eating more, of course)


Ok pretty good conclusions so far. I like the running schedule. I'd say make day 7 optional. Wake up and if you feel like doing an easy three mile recovery, do it. If you don't, or are even a bit hesitant, don't run, go on a leisurely bike ride in a scenic area and foam roll after. Actually foam roll after every run and leg workout if you can.

Yeah I believe you can go into a maintenance mode after you get under 9:00. Keep the intervals and the 5 mile run. Do a little cardio to warm up for your lifts (I do 3 min on the stairmaster very easy) and you should be good. That would be like 12 miles plus some easy cross training for warmups and such.

Yeah keep the food up because you will lose weight if not careful. Don't be crazy about weighing yourself, but weigh yourself every three to four days at the same time of day and make sure you aren't dropping more than a little bit. Supplement wise, protein is probably enough. If you aren't taking fish oil and vitamin d3, I'd recommend that addition to anyone. High caloric food should be your main concern when training as hard as you will.

The shut up program looks solid. I never saw it before today, but Tim Henriques wrote it and I respect him. It's a quality split program. If you like it, and it gets you excited to workout, keep at it. I'm doing 5/3/1 with the BBB variant actually, but for your goals, I like the triumvirate like you said. I would pick that over the shut up program because the assistance work is simpler, the workout is shorter, more bang for your buck, and I believe you need to be very efficient to not burn out with the added stress of 20 miles per week running. But again, do whatever program keeps you interested in training and lifting.


The reason I said that you're not a runner has as much to do with psychology as it does physiology.

As you know, when you're in shape for a 1.5 mile race, your energy output/mentality is very close to sprinting. "Running" really starts at like the 10k mark, where you're having to think about pacing as much as your energy levels.

So, think of yourself as something of a "sprinter" instead of a "runner" while you're training. It will help a lot with your lifting. I ran 40mpw last year during one period while lifting as well, and it sucked. The fact is that increased food helps, but at some point it just can't make up for the rest needed.

If I could make one more suggestion: if you have the time during the day, I would move your ez run to immediately after a workout. That way, your body would have the whole rest of that day to recover.

I don't think you need a 5 mile long run. Generally, if you're running twice the distance of the race goal, then you're doing fine. That doesn't hold true for folks really trying to maximize their potential, but you're not, so be okay with that.

Other tip: since this is for a job, do all your calculations based on a 9:20 time.

You're going to need to get the cals in like people have said, but it's going to be more important for you to recover fully. Get plenty of sleep.


A few questions for both of you:
guiness: what did you mean when you said all I need is race pace intervals & a few 50m strides. What do you mean by 50m strides?

3Com: Do you think the 4 mile tempo runs are alright? They're more for cardiovascular conditioning than they are for the "sprinting" effect, which I think does come into play for a 1.5miler. I am not in good enough shape cardiovascularly where I don't become exhausted in that 1.5 miles.
I see your point about going more than 2x the race distance, and I've heard that many times myself. If I were to reduce all of the tempo runs to 3miles and the "long run" to 3 miles, I would still have 15 which I think is probably enough mileage to help me decrease my times. I am also not including the swimming/rowing in those numbers, so I'm probably realistically closer to 18-19, which is pretty damn close to the above stated goal anyways.

As far as working out after lifting, I simply don't have the time. The only time I can work out (when the gym opens) is at 05:30. I have to be at work at 07:00, which leaves me just enough time to lift/shower/shave. Once I'm finished with school and move on, I should be able to lift then do my tempo run. For the sprinting days I'm assuming waiting several hours between both would be ideal.

Finally, 3com, I AM trying to maximize my potential. I'm just trying to work with my job-given requirements as well. I want to do just enough running to where my times can decrease consistently without affecting my personal goals of bodybuilding/getting stronger too much. I have in the past responded to mileage, I just don't want to cut too much running to where my progress slows to a halt.

Both of you(and anyone else):
I'm going to finish up my current cycle of "shut up and train" and then switch to 5/3/1 triumvirate. I think sticking to a more strength-oriented, lower volume workout is a good idea. The question now becomes programming, and where I should have lifting days(specifically leg days) fall in relation to my running days.

Run---3m tempo---6x400----3m Tempo----3m EZ-----3x800--------3m tempo----Swim/Row

Basically what I aimed for here was not doing anything too hard the day of, or the day after a "leg day".


There is a pdf file in cyberland by DeFranco, it's the WS4SB v3.

He has a section on running/sprinting and lifting that would benefit you. Just get it and have a read.

I'll just say it, you are doing way to much running. You are also doing 5 interval and 1 ez run.

If you have been running consistently for the last two years, maybe. But without knowing your present condition, gait, eating habit, etc, I just dont want to venture a guess.

Good luck.


Do you have to do organized PT or do they let you run/train on your own?


Intensity IMO/experience (as opposed to sheer volume of running) is key.

Conditioning yourself to think about running training more in terms of making small incremental improvements (much like a powerlifter micro-loading his way to greatness), can make a big difference over time.

If you know you can currently run 1.5 miles in 10:30, running just two 1 mile intervals at just a slightly faster pace (than your 1.5 mile time) will get you where you want to be sooner or later.


I run on my own. I also don't want to take forever to get to my sub 9:00 goal. Ideally, I'd like to be there before I move down to Florida which is going to be around mid-August. After I reach my goal, I'm willing to cut back on the running drastically, just to maintain.

I am a reasonably experienced runner. I've never run on a team or anything, but I've been running on and off for the past 6 years.

There are only 2-3 truly strenuous days in my running schedule. Those tempo runs are slightly faster than a jog and are strictly aerobic. The +45seconds/mile is to ensure I don't go into the anaerobic range, so TECHNICALLY on those days my muscles should still be fully recovering.


IMO, I think you've got your structure backwards.

Focus more on the day-to-day recovery than the intra-day recovery. Flip your 3x800 with the 3m-ez. You don't want to do 800m sprints the afternoon before you're squatting. I don't know if you've ever tried to really run an 800, but it's absolute hell. If I were you, I would do that workout in the morning since you're not lifting and give yourself the rest of the day to recover from it. I also might suggest bumping it up to 4x800. Those 800s are the most important workout of your week for the 1.5 mile race. Same with your Sunday--do the 400s on Sunday.

Don't think about what you're doing in the same day. Focus on what you're recovering from when you do your next physical activity. I.e., you don't want to squat when recovering from the 800s.


Tempo runs are anaerobic. You run slightly slower then your race pace. About 10 minutes for you (not including warm up and cool downs) and with a pace of 6 for race, I would shoot for 6:15. (lament terms, 6 minute mile.) Dependent of current state, you might want to start at 6:30 and shave 5 seconds a week or every two weeks.

You see, tempo is to get used to the speed, interval is to get faster and ez runs are there for endurance. You dont need much endurance, due to distance, but you still need it.

Just like 5/3/1, you concentrate on one that you need to improve, but you don't ignore the others. And, just like 5/3/1, more is not better. 4 days a week and you will be fine. And again, like 5/3/1, deloads are good things.

You have 7 months. Lots of time, if you are consistent.

Ill say it again, the above program is too much.


Actually, I do think JFG is right. I didn't really account for having 7 months to hit that time. Just sub out some of the tempos or one of the two sprint days for ez runs at the beginning, as you feel you need to (if you're going to get rid of one of the sprint days, I'd probably drop the 400s). A lot of all of this is going to come down to how you feel and what sort of shape you're in at this point. The key is don't start out doing too much and ending up injured. Getting injured will f*** your sh** up.


I'm not worried about injury, I have done enough running over the past few years to where I don't have to really worry about running injuries anymore. I haven't had shin splints or tendon issues in at least 4 years. I hear you though, too much running.

I think I may have been unclear on what I meant when I typed "tempo run". I should have probably said recovery run. Those runs are actually really called "critical threshold" or CT runs. Basically, you're supposed to be running at your aerobic limit, just before you cross over to anaerobic. This is to allow you to recover (because it's not anaerobic) while still training your heart/endurance (upper limit of aerobic). It's your maximum mile pace +45 seconds for whatever distance. It's not a very difficult type of running. Anyways, given the new input I've received, here's what I've got in mind. I'll test my 1.5 mile once/month and if my times aren't dropping, I'll just add some mileage from there.

Run-----3x800-----3mile CT----rest---------6x400--------3mile CT-------rest------hard swim

I've set it up that after the sprints I have at least a full day before I do anything with my legs.
I have a hard swim day set for right after my squat day because with my shitty swimming form I barely use my legs, and I'll still get some good cardio. This setup has 3 miles of running and maybe a mile of swimming.
Current setup has 3 miles of sprinting, 6 miles of recovery running (not tempo run), and some swimming.

Never thought it would be so hard to figure this shit out.

Edit: For now I'll rest on thursday instead of 3mile CT, and add it if I feel good. 3mi sprints, 3 mi CT, swimming

Edit2: How should I be progressing on the sprints? Reducing rest time? Faster splits? Both simultaneously?