Mens Health Magazine Article: Can You Train For A Marathon, Without Sacrificing Your Hard Earned Gains?

MH: How can men train for endurance events, such as a marathon, in the gym with supplementary exercises?

CN: A supplementary exercise like strength training can be advantageous for marathon runners. It’s not only beneficial from an injury prevention perspective, but it can also make you a stronger, faster and more efficient runner. Focusing on compound (multi-joint) exercises that are more specific to running like hip, glute, calves and corset dominant work is a good starting point. Squats, deadlifts, walking lunges and planks are some examples of these. With stronger muscles, tendons and joints you will be more resilient to the demands of endurance running.


In your opinion, is it possible to be fit and strong or is there a trade off when training for either outcome?

Well, it depends how you define fit. Take CrossFit athletes for example, they are trained across multiple components of fitness, e.g. strength, power, speed, endurance, coordination etc. In my opinion, being proficient across multiple domains can be challenging because of this ‘trade-off’. Physiologically speaking, when you train a fitness component specifically (e.g. strength, agility, speed, power etc), your body will adapt accordingly.

For example, endurance runners adapt very differently to power lifters in response to their training stimulus. This example demonstrates there is a trade-off depending on which training component is prioritised. This stresses the importance of training specificity (training that’s relevant to your sport or goal) so your physical adaptations favour your goals or sports performance, not hinder them.

Can an athlete achieve muscle hypertrophy (growth) whilst simultaneously preparing for an endurance event? If so, how is this achieved?

It is possible, however training specifically for an endurance event, like a marathon, doesn’t favour muscle hypertrophy (growth of muscle cell size). Therefore, the athlete would need to undertake some form of hypertrophy favouring resistance training simultaneously whilst consuming adequate amounts of calories (and protein). Muscle hypertrophy training is typically 4-8 exercises with a moderate to heavy load, 3-5 sets, 8-12 reps with 1-2minutes rest between sets. If muscle hypertrophy is the goal and focus, it would be wise to seek professional assistance with programming to get the right balance between hypertrophy and endurance training.  

What would a day on a plate look like for you?

Nutrition for me changes depending on my goals. Once I have established a goal, I plan my daily meals to correspond with my calorie/macronutrient requirements, and repeat daily. Automating this process eliminates variables, minimises the guess work and saves time and effort. Currently I’m happy with my body composition, so I’m aiming for maintenance calories (approximately 3000-3200 calories and aiming for 200g of protein a day).

Currently my average day looks like this:

Meal 1: Coffee with milk.

Meal 2: Eggs, sauerkraut, beetroot, almonds, bacon, avocado.

Meal 3: Protein shake or bar.

Meal 4: Pre workout meal- Meat, vegetables, sauerkraut, beetroot and carbs.

Meal 5: Post workout meal- Meat, vegetables, sauerkraut, beetroot and carbs.

Meal 6: Super protein shake (blend, protein powder, cinnamon, turmeric, spinach and LSA mix)

Meal 7: Greek yogurt, blueberries and peanut butter.

Similarly, what would a week of training splits look like for you, specifically when you were preparing for an endurance event?

My training remains resistance focused as I am running the ASICS 10km distance.                                                                    

Monday: Bodyweight Pull

Tuesday: Hypertrophy Legs

Wednesday: Bodyweight Push

Thursday: Hypertrophy Pull

Friday: Run + Mobility

Saturday: Hypertrophy Push

Sunday: Run + Mobility

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