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  • Marathon training and Fat Loss

    So I've browsed around the forum and Mark's articles about chronic cardio and marathon training, etc...but I'm still unsure as to how I should go approaching training for my first marathon. It has been on my bucket list for a long time, and this winter/spring is my best opportunity to do it, so I signed up before I had read The Primal Blueprint!

    Anyway, I just started eating Primally about 7 weeks ago, but the past two weeks have had some setbacks and I've stalled in weight loss (damn holidays!) I am hoping to lose around 60lbs by next August, but now I am worried that by marathon training I will mess things up with fat burning. I am a slow runner anyway, but when I run I usually do so around 75% of my max HR.

    Can anyone help explain how to approach marathon training in order to keep burning fat? I'm trying to go very low carb (but eating sweet potatoes before long workouts such as running or mountain biking).

    I am goign to try the Whole 30 Challenge starting january 2nd, and marathon training begins January 6th.

    Any advice is appreciated!
    Overweight athlete going PRIMAL

    11/4/11
    SW: 228lb
    GW: 160lb by August 2012

    11/24/11- 222
    12/30/11- 229
    1/7/12- 225
    1/17/12 (2 weeks into Whole30)- 218
    5/15/12- 218 (Need motivation to eat a clean Primal diet!!)

  • #2
    Mark's marathon advice is all I've got to refer to you. Without a constant alternate source of energy you're going to burn up a lot of muscle. That's all I've got.
    Crohn's, doing SCD

    Comment


    • #3
      I think your biggest gains in January and February can be made through diet. Even a beginner marathon training plan can make you crazy hungry if you eat the wrong kind of carbs or your diet has supported using carbs as your main fuel instead of fat. You don't list what your mileage base has been or what your goal is with the marathon. I don't agree that you will burn through a lot of muscle with a 40 - 50 mile per week plan or even one that peaks at 70mpw. It is much more likely that being crazy hungry will cause you to gain weight during your training period. That is why it is important to not overdue the mileage or intensity until you have made the fat as fuel switch with the food choices. If you get to lethargic, add berries, potatoes, sweet potatoes and white rice. Try to eat the sweet potatoes or white rice a couple of hours prior to doing your longer runs. The first 6-8 weeks I would do one interval workout and 3 - 4 easy paced mid-distance runs of 4- 8 miles at < 75% Max Heart Rate. After that diet adjustment break-in period in weeks 8-12 I would drop the interval day and change it to a hill repeat workout. Look for a hill at least a 1/4 mile long but not a steep mountain goat hill. You want it have good challenging incline. After doing a 2-mile easy paced warm up run, start the hill repeats. Go up the hill at 75-80% effort. Short powerful strides with good arm swing. Do a 20 - 30 second cool down at the top then run down the hill as hard as you can. Don't overstride. Short steps that focus on getting your heels up as quick as you can. Lead your body with your hips to keep from leaning forward to much. Immediatly turnaround and start up the hill for the next repeat. Start with 4 - 6 per session and build from there. End the workout with a two mile cool down run. The rest of the week would be 3-4 mid distance runs and finish the week with a longer run at 30 -90 seconds slower than marathon pace per mile. The hill repeats will help toughen up the leg muscles and prepare them for race day. The weekly longer run will get you prepared for the time on your feet you will need to finish. When your longer runs get over 13-miles, start trying some dried fruit or jels during your runs. Remember it will take them 45-minutes to an hour to help your energy supply so don't wait too long to take them during the run. Post run, eat more sweet potatoes and some protein to help refuel and rebuild after the workout.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by pace2race View Post
        I think your biggest gains in January and February can be made through diet. Even a beginner marathon training plan can make you crazy hungry if you eat the wrong kind of carbs or your diet has supported using carbs as your main fuel instead of fat. You don't list what your mileage base has been or what your goal is with the marathon. I don't agree that you will burn through a lot of muscle with a 40 - 50 mile per week plan or even one that peaks at 70mpw. It is much more likely that being crazy hungry will cause you to gain weight during your training period. That is why it is important to not overdue the mileage or intensity until you have made the fat as fuel switch with the food choices. If you get to lethargic, add berries, potatoes, sweet potatoes and white rice. Try to eat the sweet potatoes or white rice a couple of hours prior to doing your longer runs. The first 6-8 weeks I would do one interval workout and 3 - 4 easy paced mid-distance runs of 4- 8 miles at < 75% Max Heart Rate. After that diet adjustment break-in period in weeks 8-12 I would drop the interval day and change it to a hill repeat workout. Look for a hill at least a 1/4 mile long but not a steep mountain goat hill. You want it have good challenging incline. After doing a 2-mile easy paced warm up run, start the hill repeats. Go up the hill at 75-80% effort. Short powerful strides with good arm swing. Do a 20 - 30 second cool down at the top then run down the hill as hard as you can. Don't overstride. Short steps that focus on getting your heels up as quick as you can. Lead your body with your hips to keep from leaning forward to much. Immediatly turnaround and start up the hill for the next repeat. Start with 4 - 6 per session and build from there. End the workout with a two mile cool down run. The rest of the week would be 3-4 mid distance runs and finish the week with a longer run at 30 -90 seconds slower than marathon pace per mile. The hill repeats will help toughen up the leg muscles and prepare them for race day. The weekly longer run will get you prepared for the time on your feet you will need to finish. When your longer runs get over 13-miles, start trying some dried fruit or jels during your runs. Remember it will take them 45-minutes to an hour to help your energy supply so don't wait too long to take them during the run. Post run, eat more sweet potatoes and some protein to help refuel and rebuild after the workout.
        Great advice, thanks!

        I am doing my training with a local running store club, so my workouts will be mostly "planned" for me. We meet twice a week with Saturday mornings being our long run. I won't be able to make the other weekly run most of the time, so plan on just doing that day's "run workout" on my own. Then I was planning on doing a 3rd run on my own (an interval workout or hill repeats). The long runs start at 4 miles I think, then gradually increase up to 20 miles. The longest run during the week is most likely no more than 6 miles, so I am not expecting to be doing a lot of weekly mileage, especially the first month or two.

        In addition to the running, I would like to do my own Crossfit workouts 2-3 times a week, and maybe spinning once a week as cross training.

        I will most likely eat a Chipotle bol on Saturdays after my long runs What's your opinion on eating right away upon finishing a hard run/workout? I'm getting mixed feelings... beneficial for preserving muscle, but I also want my body to burn my fat stores!

        I trained for a marathon 3 years ago at 200lbs and didn't lose any weight (instead I got a stress fracture in my foot a month before the race), so I am really hoping this time around I can lose the fat! In that regard, do you know how long it takes the body to turn to fat for its fuel source? I've been slacking on the primal/paleo diet due to all of the temptations now with Christmas coming, but I plan on going full force on January 2nd by starting the Whole 30 challenge!

        Thanks again!
        Overweight athlete going PRIMAL

        11/4/11
        SW: 228lb
        GW: 160lb by August 2012

        11/24/11- 222
        12/30/11- 229
        1/7/12- 225
        1/17/12 (2 weeks into Whole30)- 218
        5/15/12- 218 (Need motivation to eat a clean Primal diet!!)

        Comment


        • #5
          First of all, I just want to ask if we are twins? Marathon is also on my bucket list, and I'm the world's slowest runner (although not a bad little sprinter). I'm not training right now due to recovering from an injury, but when I was training, I had no problem on VLC (50g or less). I just tried to follow my body cues. If I was ravenous after training, I ate. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't. I did notice an improvement in my racing and endurance, but it was slow.
          don't know if you'll find any of that helpful
          --Trish (Bork)
          TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
          http://pregnantdiabetic.blogspot.com
          FOOD PORN BLOG! http://theprimaljunkfoodie.blogspot.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
            Mark's marathon advice is all I've got to refer to you. Without a constant alternate source of energy you're going to burn up a lot of muscle. That's all I've got.
            Listen to Knifegill. Marathon training is probably the worst way to burn fat. The whole thing leaves you weak from head to toe. Why is it even on your bucket list? Because it's something society thinks is some kind of achievement? It is not an achievement. All it requires is perseverance. Anyone can hobble their way through a half marathon if they really want to. Don't be part of the problem.
            You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

            Comment


            • #7
              marathon training - fat burn - weight loss

              Pace2race has lot's of valuable comments (thanks !!) (and naturally Mark's advice is good)

              If nothing else, eat protein withing 45 mins after workout. Some carbs (enough to fill the stores) won't slow down your fat burn after workout. Ofcourse if you over-do the reloading, you could get some carry-on items.
              Missing meals after workout starts to eat muscles and can save the fat...

              I've been recently reading several studies (just for fun of it...) on different nutrition strategies to better adapt to fat burning (e.g.). Some notes below (what I think I have understood..).
              - Obviously fast carbs before exercise, puts down the fat burn.
              - Running fasted or with fat focused meals, helps fat burn.
              - Shifting diet from high carb to high fat, increases fat burn rate, but performance could go down. For Ironman and ultras this would be good strategy, for half marathon not, for marathon ...so and so..??
              - running longer +90 mins (even with constant speed), shifts energy source from carbs to fat gradually while you run.
              - starting the training program very easily (heart rate 60-70% of max) prepares e.g. capillaries in 6-8 weeks and this helps in fat burn. (There could very big difference in aerobic threshold (~upper limit for proper fat burn) between non-active and athlete, later one can run on 80% max-HR still under the threshold, where as non-active might need to stay under 60% of max HR, and still burn less fat)

              If one has been relying on carbs on runs (and even "loading" few hours before), then shifting to fat is more painfull, and change needs to go with baby steps.

              There are different schools on how fat burns most effectively, but it is always beneficial to make the body adapt first for better burn rate (by easy training and diet shifting) and use that later in any training.

              I personally don't need to "loose it", but I'm targeting on increasing my endurance and fat burn with low carb,high fat diet and some 1-2 months before a marathon shift more back to carbs and increase speed on my runs, let's see how that works out..

              about the other training (cross fit and spinning)...there could be a slight danger, that you train more over aerobic limit and even in anaerobic area. This could introduce more acids to your body, make you more hungry (or fast energy-addicted). If you prepare the (aerobic) base good enough, you can take more that gym stuff, without hurting aerobic side and stay healthier. Atleast follow your recovery with orthostatic test

              Loosing good amount of weight and going for marathon is surely a twin-challenge, but at best they could support each other, good luck !

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Grumpy Caveman View Post
                Listen to Knifegill. Marathon training is probably the worst way to burn fat. The whole thing leaves you weak from head to toe. Why is it even on your bucket list? Because it's something society thinks is some kind of achievement? It is not an achievement. All it requires is perseverance. Anyone can hobble their way through a half marathon if they really want to. Don't be part of the problem.
                Whenever you have a goal, the first thing you should do is ignore people like this.

                Best of luck with your training. Check out the FIRST program. 3X per week. Speed, Pace, long/slow. Each with a specific purpose and less is more.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Go-Pre View Post
                  Whenever you have a goal, the first thing you should do is ignore people like this.
                  Because all goals are good and unassailable, just because they are goals. Is that right? I'm not sure I follow you.
                  You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dr. Bork Bork View Post
                    First of all, I just want to ask if we are twins? Marathon is also on my bucket list, and I'm the world's slowest runner (although not a bad little sprinter). I'm not training right now due to recovering from an injury, but when I was training, I had no problem on VLC (50g or less). I just tried to follow my body cues. If I was ravenous after training, I ate. If I wasn't hungry, I didn't. I did notice an improvement in my racing and endurance, but it was slow.
                    don't know if you'll find any of that helpful
                    haha good to know, thanks!
                    Overweight athlete going PRIMAL

                    11/4/11
                    SW: 228lb
                    GW: 160lb by August 2012

                    11/24/11- 222
                    12/30/11- 229
                    1/7/12- 225
                    1/17/12 (2 weeks into Whole30)- 218
                    5/15/12- 218 (Need motivation to eat a clean Primal diet!!)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Grumpy Caveman View Post
                      Because all goals are good and unassailable, just because they are goals. Is that right? I'm not sure I follow you.
                      My apologies. While we certainly could debate the merit of many individual goals, we are talking about his goal - running a marathon.

                      You told him that it's not an achievement and that by participating he is part of the problem. Problem? The man justs wants to go on a long run to test himself!

                      I was struck your lack of support for anothers choice, simply because it's different from yours.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RunBikeLift View Post
                        Great advice, thanks!

                        I am doing my training with a local running store club, so my workouts will be mostly "planned" for me. We meet twice a week with Saturday mornings being our long run. I won't be able to make the other weekly run most of the time, so plan on just doing that day's "run workout" on my own. Then I was planning on doing a 3rd run on my own (an interval workout or hill repeats). The long runs start at 4 miles I think, then gradually increase up to 20 miles. The longest run during the week is most likely no more than 6 miles, so I am not expecting to be doing a lot of weekly mileage, especially the first month or two.

                        In addition to the running, I would like to do my own Crossfit workouts 2-3 times a week, and maybe spinning once a week as cross training.

                        I will most likely eat a Chipotle bol on Saturdays after my long runs What's your opinion on eating right away upon finishing a hard run/workout? I'm getting mixed feelings... beneficial for preserving muscle, but I also want my body to burn my fat stores!

                        I trained for a marathon 3 years ago at 200lbs and didn't lose any weight (instead I got a stress fracture in my foot a month before the race), so I am really hoping this time around I can lose the fat! In that regard, do you know how long it takes the body to turn to fat for its fuel source? I've been slacking on the primal/paleo diet due to all of the temptations now with Christmas coming, but I plan on going full force on January 2nd by starting the Whole 30 challenge!

                        Thanks again!
                        I need to eat after the workout. I run fasted in the morning, usually 7-miles unless doing intervals, and an hour after workout I'm ready to eat. For me it took a month to stop craving carbs so much. I was lethargic and ate often to keep feeling full. No grains or potatoes at all that first month. Just fruit and dark greens for carbs and almonds along with the meats and fats. After I switched over I dropped the almonds and went from weighing over 180 lbs to a low of 157 lbs. this weight loss took from August to the end of October. I'm about 165 now and am 5'9" tall. Once I started eating more fat and dropped the grains completely, I started using fat and got much leaner.

                        This far from your goal race, I think you will be amazed at how much you can change with this way of eating and regular training. It worked much, much better for me than just training and trying to eat to support the training.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Go-Pre View Post
                          My apologies. While we certainly could debate the merit of many individual goals, we are talking about his goal - running a marathon.

                          You told him that it's not an achievement and that by participating he is part of the problem. Problem? The man justs wants to go on a long run to test himself!

                          I was struck your lack of support for anothers choice, simply because it's different from yours.
                          Why should I support unhealthy behaviour?
                          You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My partner is training for a marathon--his second time training but first time running one because he had a really bad run-in with a radial arm saw 10 days before his race last year (but hey, they saved his finger!). My role is feeding him, reminding him to go use the foam roller, and massaging his legs. As such, I may know more about what he's eating than he does

                            First off: keep it as primal as possible. We don't do VLC around here--it doesn't work for either of us with our levels of physical activity--but we use primal carb sources. Sweet potatoes, root vegetables, white potatoes, sometimes white rice, and fruit. Plenty of protein from meat and eggs (I counted 90 eggs in the fridge yesterday), and also a high-quality protein powder because he has a moving and delivery business and absolutely cannot lose muscle mass. Also, a lot of people don't realize how essential fat is to repair and recovery. There's a lot of sport nutrition research that supports eating higher fat for athletes, even from CW medicine approaches. Your body needs more of everything when you're putting it through that kind of hell. You simply don't have room in your diet to eat crap because you need quality food to recover properly. People think long-distance runners can get away with more junk, but you really need to focus on eating even better than the average primal might.

                            If you're eating right, the fat loss will happen. The trick will be to keep the muscle mass from going with it. Some strength training will help, but I'd watch out for overdoing the Crossfit and spinning. The coach at our box who runs long distances feels that twice a week for CF is enough during marathon training, scaling back to once a week closer to the race and then none for the final push. Crosstraining with bodyweight work is good, and cycling or swimming once a week, but I'm not sure an intense spin class is a good plan. You don't want to add even more catabolic stuff on top of a marathon training schedule.

                            At this point, he's maintaining muscle mass through bodyweight work twice a day--the basics of pushups, situps, squats--and the lifting he does through his job, supported by good nutrition. His body fat is dropping like crazy, and I'm guessing he's maybe 8% fat at 6'3" and 230 lbs. That's heavy for a marathoner, so he's facing the challenge of having to eat ridiculous amounts of food to fuel the run. The race is still four months off, and he's already consuming well over 3000 calories per day, mostly from protein and fat.

                            And yeah, I've had the "it's not healthy" conversation with him. He's aware. And he's planning to do the Canadian Death Race next.
                            “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                            Owly's Journal

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am basically a retired long distance runner. I have done over 125 marathons and ultras over the past 26+ years. I've done 11 100 mile trail races. And, for those 26 years, I fought my weight constantly. I would occasionally get my weight down to 168 or so for a peak race, but I could balloon to 200 in a few months on the diet I thought I was supposed to eat. To achieve a PR at any distance required so much work and discipline, and food was a constant issue. After averaging over 2000 miles per year for a quarter century, I've run about 250 miles each of the past two years. Much of that was sprint work or an occasional longer run with friends, plus one slow run/walk marathon with friends. These days, I either run very hard and short, or very slowly if I go longer, usually mixing in walking. I do it for fun. And, CrossFit and heavy lifting are my real workouts these days. They fit in better with my fitness goals and body composition goals.

                              However, I'm not trying to talk anyone out of a marathon. I do think it could be difficult to do adequate training on a Primal diet. If you are interested, I have used a supplement called Vespa for endurance activities done while eating Primal. The president of the company, Peter Defty, is very supportive of Paleo/Primal endurance athletes and he might be able to answer questions for you. Just be aware that he will also try to sell you his product.

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