Minimizing Catabolism During Marathon Training

"Thanks, as always for your great blog. I just ordered your book. May I ask you a question? I'm 33, and I started bodybuilding 8 months ago. During the first 6 months I went from 230 to 200, and now I'm starting to tone and pack on the muscle. The key for me was diet. I'm an ectomorph and eating a LOT of the right things at the right times was just what I needed. At the moment I train with weights 3 times a week with light (10 minutes) cardio, plus some sports one or two days a week (snowboarding, swimming plus Muay Thai).

My question for you is this: I've been asked to do a marathon (or a half marathon) in September. Is it practical to train for this and keep doing weights 3 times a week, or will it screw up my muscle gains? I'd really like to keep developing the muscular physique that's just starting to appear. If you think it's possible for me to achieve both goals, then how should I balance my training. How should I eat and drink before and during running practice over the next 4 months?

Steve M.
Oslo, Norway

My Answer: Thanks for ordering my book, Steve! I know you'll enjoy it. To answer your question, I think it's not practical at all to train for a marathon AND to train for muscular size. Training for a marathon will screw up your muscle gains in multiple ways:

1) you'll lose the muscle size that you have now
2) it'll prevent you from gaining any more size and muscle
3) hormonally-speaking, you'll be castrated

Marathon training will raise your levels of cortisol through the roof and inversely deplete your testosterone. My advice to you is prioritize which one you want more: a muscular rock body or to run a marathon. If you can avoid a marathon, then just avoid it. But if you must do a marathon, then let me give you a few suggestions:

1) Keep eating mega amounts of food. An overabundance of calories will exert some damage control over the cortisol release.

2) Bring the reps down to the 4-8 range and do multiple sets per exercise in the gym. The book will go over the Machine Gun Method, and that will help you maintain some muscle.

3) Start cutting out the sports for the time being. You're being overtrained as it is. Pick up the sports after you complete the marathon.

4) To minimize overtraining, your workouts in the gym should not exceed 45 minutes.

Like I said, I don't recommend training for different goals. But if you must do it, then good luck to you, Steve.
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