Muscle run

Muscle run

Since running the Berlin Marathon at the end of September I have had a pretty erratic, inconsistent exercise routine.

Post Berlin my intention was to simply carry on running so as to maintain my fitness. I intended to reduce the work load but still do 35 - 40 mile weeks.

Unfortunately Berlin destroyed me. I had/have a number of physical health issues. My left hip hurts. It is not debilitatingly painful, and I barely notice it most of the time but running seems to aggravate it. I went and had an X-ray, and the lack of response from the doctor supposedly means that there is nothing significant wrong.

I started foam rolling, and doing various stretches/exercises to help (Myrtl Routine). I think they helped a little. I also reduced my running volume dramatically.

Fast forward a bit and I decided that this was all a load of shit. I self diagnosed and came to the conclusion that my various pains were simply due to being weak and pathetic.

When I started my marathon journey I was well built. I applied the same approach that I apply to running (now) to the gym. I had the whole mirror syndrome-y thing and didn't really realise how well built I was until I compared a photo from then to a photo from now (Some photos for context).

When my running got more serious I didn't have the time, or energy to go to the gym and run. I did both for a few weeks and then gradually transitioned to just running.

At the start of November I went to Barcelona. I ate way too much. My binge eating bullshit came back. Since then I have been running and binging yadda yadda. It sucks.

After Barcelona however it dawned on me what I wanted my next challenge to be. Since Berlin I have contemplated entering various races and then changed my mind due to lack of interest/motivation (I'm still very much race fatigued).

Given that I qualified for all of the majors in Berlin, the one thing I did know was that my next marathon would be New York. The only issue being that I put everything on the table in Berlin, and without being unnecessarily pessimistic I don't know If I will be able to do better..

So after thinking on it I came to the conclusion that my next challenge will be what I will call the 'muscle run'. The premise is simple:

  • Run the New York marathon in sub-3.
  • Don't be a weak, puny, skinny twat.

To achieve this I am going for an impossibly tough training routine which goes against almost everything that anyone says about training. Why? Because I don't believe 'them'.

The premise is again quite simple (albeit ridiculous):

  • 7 training days per week.
  • Gym sessions and running sessions daily.
  • Rest days only when required (by my ridiculous over the top standards).
  • 35 mile running weeks until May 2017.
  • Long runs/extra mileage depending on my insanity (read - binge eating habits).
  • May 2017 - NYC Marathon = Adapted 24 / 70 Pfitzinger plan with integrated gym sessions.

That probably sounds stupidly intense. It is.

Fortunately (??) I am pragmatic enough not to have posted this until I had completed a 'proof of concept'.

I started going back to the gym again and looked at how much strength I had lost. Turns out.. a lot. In fact I am weaker now than I was when I started going to the gym many years ago. Interesting, but not surprising.

I noted how my hip was feeling. It has gotten significantly better. Looks like I was correct.

I added runs back in. I played with timings.

  • Running fasted in the mornings, gym in the evenings.

  • Gym fasted in the mornings, running in the evening.

  • Gym unfasted before lunch, running in the evening.

I came to the conclusion that the final option is the best. Whilst going to the gym fasted is totally fine, psychologically I'm used to (and prefer to) eat in the morning. Going just before lunch means I can get some work done in the mornings too.

The final bit of the trial and error was confirming I could still run long distances. I can.

I have been conducting this experiment for around 3 weeks now. I am tired (unsurprisingly), but functional. I think I can handle this workload, and it will be super interesting to see what happens.

Lots of high performance athletes have high intensity workloads and stay injury free whilst making progress. My feeling is that what you read on the Internet is focussed on that person scouring Google for a quick fix. That person that doesn't have the discipline or mental fortitude for intensity.

I believe that I do have those characteristics. Challenge accepted.


Thomas Clowes

Thomas Clowes

I am a 28 year old software engineer from the United Kingdom. During the day I build multi platform applications. In my spare time I eat food and run marathons. Sometimes I write angry tweets.