T Nation

Marathon Training and Lifting

Hey all,

I’ve been running the Marine Corp Marathon for the past three years and was going to make another go of it this year. However, I’ve been making some good gains lifting and don’t want to see all my hard work in the gym get pissed away.

If I decide to run I’d begin training 10 weeks out with three runs a week: 1 long run (start at 12 miles, and 1 mile each week), 1 speed session (800s at 3:00 pace. Start doing 6, work up to 12. 400 recovery jog in between), 1 medium cardio session (7-10 mile jog, 50 minute swim, etc.)

My question is how can I diet / supplement to minimize my losses in terms of muscle? Secondly, what kind of weight training (if at all) should I do while marathon training?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Glutamine is supposed to be able to reduce muscle loss from a lot of slow-twitch exercises.

However, I also read the article about how the glutamine is supposed to be useless. So I’m not sure. Just read up on Glutamine if you’re interested.

Hey buddy!

Do you know what your general race weight has been and where you’d like it to be now?

I have been using a stack of Alpha Male and Carbolin 19 throughout my peak training and have maintained a heavier race weight but cut my race body fat. If I had to pick one I would go with Carbolin 19 but I feel that Alpha Male would be just as important if you are planning to get to marathon distance in 10 weeks. You’re likely to be flirting with overtraining just about the day of race and the last thing you want for your muscle mass is to crash your hormones.

My results with Carbolin 19 and Alpha Male (also use Methoxy-7) have been so successful that I will be using it to bump my race weight up another 8 lbs with confidence that I can hold a higher power output until Ironman.

If you are looking for specific weight training benefits I would catch Eric Cressey on Prime Time. I currently use Eric Cressey as my strength/conditioning coach for triathlon and specifically sought him out for my Ironman training. Obv. I can’t go into the details of my specific program, but I’m sure he can give you a few pointers on Prime Time.

Hope this helps.

I’d say do whatever training in the gym you can without overtraining.

Also, eat everything in site. If it is digestible, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow. If your body doesn’t have enough nutrients coming in to feed it during all of this running, it’ll start eating the fat and muscle off your bones.

Good luck!


Don’t waste your money on Glutamine. All the positive studies that they have done with glutamine was given to hospital patients in an IV form. The over the counter powdered glutamine is sucked up by the intestines before it’s ever used for anything else. It’s useless. Also if you are using protein powder throughout the day, you are getting a nice hit of glutamine.

Having said that, I would supplement with BCAAs when you start increasing the mileage and your long run takes 2 hours or more.Try to take in 30 grams of BCAAs in 5 gram doses throughout the day.
Take a high potency multi: Vitamin Shoppe’s Life Essentials.

Take a nap after your long runs, and also invest in weekly massages or buy a massager and use it after your runs. After long runs, you should take ice baths and take contrast showers.

Your diet and calorie intake is CRUCIAL. You gotta eat like you have never eaten before. Here’s my diet on long run days:

Gatorade 80 cal, 20 c
? scoop of whey 55 cal, 12 p
Pre-Run: 135 calories, 20 carbs, 12 protein

Gatorade 80 cal, 20 c
? scoop of whey 55 cal, 12 p
During Run: 135 calories, 20 carbs, 12 protein

Gatorade 80 cal, 20 c
? scoop of whey 55 cal, 12 p
During Run: 135 calories, 20 carbs, 12 protein

Gatorade 80 cal, 20 c
? scoop of whey 55 cal, 12 p
During Run: 135 calories, 20 carbs, 12 protein

Dextrose 160 cal, 40 c
Gatorade 160 cal, 40 c
1 scoop of whey 110 cal, 23 p
Post Run: 430 calories, 80 carbohydrates, 23 protein

1 cup of oatmeal 300 cal, 54 c, 6 f
1 scoop of whey 110 cal, 23 p
2 scoops of green vibrance 88 cal, 12 c
1 teaspoon of flax oil 65 cal, 7 f
Breakfast: 563 calories, 66 carbohydrates, 23 protein, 13 fat

1 scoop of whey 110 cal, 23 p
5 fish oil capsules 50 cal, 5 f
1 apple: 110 cal, 23 c
Mid Morning: 270 cal, 23 carbohydrates, 23 protein, 5 fat

4 oz. of salmon 206 cal, 22 p, 8 f
? package of broccoli 90 cal, 12 c
1 cup of oatmeal 300 cal, 54 c, 6 f
Lunch: 596 calories, 66 carbohydrates, 22 protein, 14 fat

1 scoop of whey 110 cal, 23 p
5 fish oil capsules 50 cal, 5 f
1 cup of oatmeal 300 cal, 54 c, 6 f
Mid Afternoon: 460 cal, 54 carbohydrates, 23 protein, 11 fat

3 oz. of chicken 200 cal, 25 protein
Of broccoli 90 cal, 12 c
1 tablespoon of flax oil 130 cal, 14 f
1 cup of oatmeal 300 cal, 54 c, 6 f
Dinner: 720 calories, 66 carbohydrates, 25 protein, 20 fat

1 scoop of EvoPro: 120, 24p
1 cup of oatmeal 300 cal, 54 c, 6 f
Night: 420 calories, 54 carbohydrates, 24 protein, 6 fat

1 scoop of whey 110 calories, 23 p
? container of cottage cheese 160 cal, 8 c, 24 p
2 scoops of green vibrance 88 cal, 12 c
1 tablespoon of flax oil 130 cal, 14 f
Before Bed: 408 calories, 20 carbohydrates, 36 protein, 14 fat

Obviously, you won’t put size on, but you will keep your size. Here’s a pic of me during the NJ marathon in May 2004. I kept my weight around 170 and my strength never went down through the marathon training. Once you start running over 2 hours, on the long run, DO NOT lift that day. REST. REST. REST. and recover.

That’s alot for now, if you have other questions, keep them coming.

Also, forgot to include the eating…

I am at about 6,000-6,500 kcals a day.

If I’m not training I’m eating.

Hmm…only 3 sessions a week. Guess you are not a fan of recovery/junk mileage. But it does bode well for strenth training. I would suggest two full-body workouts on off-days. This will leave you two rest days. Getting Eric Cressey’s advice is definitely a good idea.

Alternatively, you could consider doing a hard fullbody workout one day per week. And upper body for a second day if you feel like your legs are taking too much of a beating. As a former middle-distance runner, two leg workouts per week worked well. But I never had a serious race beyond 10K though we did have some very high mileage weeks during base training. Good luck!

Hey Everyone,

I really appreciate all the advice. I gained some valuable information and will definitely put it into practice and let you know how it works out.

My current stats are: 6?2?, 207 lbs, ~14% BF. I?ve been around 190 lbs at race time the past three years (coming down from around 195 ? 200 lbs). I?m hoping I won?t sacrifice as much muscle this time around

Here is what my training is going to look like while training:

Su: Long Run
M: Recovery / 30 Minute Sports
T: Lift (Bench, Deads, Squats, BB Row)
W: Rest
Th: Medium Cardio
F: Lift (same as above)
Sat: Rest

I have two more quick questions if anyone has the time.

First off, would there be any benefit to staying on creatine while training for the marathon? I can?t think of any offhand.

Secondly, is lifting twice a week going to help me maintain any more muscle than lifting only once?

I?m debating putting in another rest day or low mileage day in place of the second lifting session. Any input is appreciated. Thanks again!


They key to all this is keeping your body in a build mode. The key to building/maitaining muscle is to keep all three of the basics in a “+” state.

Normally you’d look like this:

Training: +
Diet: +
Supplements: +

However, once you start intense cardio it can start to look like this:

Training: -
Diet: +
Supplements: +

The key is keeping those other two “+” because your hours are going to increase dramatically it is very easy to drop into the “+” zone.

With endurance training you will notice this screwy calorie window (for lack of a better term) where there is a huge range of caloric intake and at either end your body composition is the same. You want to be at the highest end of that spectrum. Early in my career I was around 3,500 kcals. Through some talking with Dave Barr, I am up at 6,500 kcals and my body composition has actually improved (less body fat and more functional LBM). You really need to pay attention to your body and keep your kcals as high as they can get without unneccessary weight gain.

As far as exercises, I would really encourage you to catch Cressey on Prime Time. He is generally on Mondays and he’d be able to give you a more professional oppinion. His work with me is specifically geared to my own goals / sports so I couldn’t really help you there.

From a basic standpoint, the frequency p/ week is not as cruical as the volume. Again, keep your body in an anabolic state. While the man’s programs were not geared toward endurance athletes, in any way, shape, or form, Dan John’s programs have proven very effective as they are relatively simple. The get-in/get-out will keep your muscles building without throwing your volume through the roof. You could try something like is One Lift A Day. Do your weight training in the early morning and your runs 8-10 hours later.