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Running / how much and when?

Hey guys,

I'm trying to keep a reasonable amount of lean muscle mass on my fairly slim frame. Been doing primarily CrossFit training and Wing Chun to keep fit/sane. However, I love to run and where possible, compete in shorter races (5k, 10k) - how much should I be running and what time of day is best?


The Best Answer

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From what I've read, sure run! I love running and will not give it up even while attempting to do some G2F or Occ. 2-3 hours/week of running shouldn't hinder, but HELP you build LBM while keeping off the fat typically associated with building LBM.

From a decent source:

Here’s my quick n dirty recommendations for cardio during muscle gaining programs:

* 2 – 3 days per week

* 20-50 minutes per session

* intensity will be higher for shorter sessions

* intensity will be medium / lower on longer sessions

* Busy people use HIIT to save time

* If you exceed 3d/wk, additional cardio should be


* Hate cardio machines? Use your imagination and do

something you enjoy. Cardio doesn’t just mean ‘Treadmill’

* ectomorphs: You might get away with little or no cardio (doing a little less is probably beneficial)

* endomorphs: cardio is absolutely crucial to avoid

gaining fat with the muscle (doing a little more may be beneficial)

All Answers


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"If you run or do any cardio type exercise for longer than 20-30 minutes your body begins to burn lean muscle instead of fat."

Don't listen to this garbage. Cardio will only start cannibalizing lean muscle if your body isn't taking in enough calories to maintain your vital organ functions. Based on Justin's claims people wouldn't be able to run and train for marathons let alone do Ironman's. The entire field of the Tour de France would have no muscle left at the end of the event.

  • Jason Walker Jason Walker commented Jun 3rd 2011:

    Can't say I have honestly seen an overly well muscled long distance runner to be perfectly honest. Yes they are normally in great shape, but thin and almost ultra lean in my experience. I would say that to some extend muscle loss does take place with endurance running.

  • cvesper commented Jul 22nd 2011:

    Also, compare long distance runners to sprinters. Check out those legs!

  • justin commented Apr 29th 2011:
    My answer was in terms of weight loss. If you aren't eating maintenance calories it will burn muscle. You just said the exact same thing I said in a different context.


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this answer is geared mostly maintaining lean body wait while on a fat loss diet. Since you emphasized maintaining muscle.

if you're on occam's to gain mass & eating more running is fine. :)

If you run or do any cardio type exercise for longer than 20-30 minutes your body begins to burn lean muscle instead of fat. Interval training is the best for lean muscle and fat loss.

To burn fat the best time to exercise is when you wake up before you eat. (from Perfect Posterior). The 2nd best time to exercise is whenever you will actually do it.

see also page 23 of 4 Hour Body

  • Dana W commented Jan 17th 2012:

    What if you want your muscles to be smaller?

  • Andre Ramos commented Apr 28th 2011:
    That's interesting! But how does that compare to Tim's theory that we should eat right after waking up?
  • justin commented Apr 29th 2011:
    referencing "perfect posterior" Tim suggests working out before breakfast in terms of fat loss. those workouts are all under 30 minutues so you're still good to go. but for this question running should be done after heavy lifting to retain muscle


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I have increased my running lately to 7-10 miles 3 times a week and have been biking to the store. It's week one for the change, but I read a ton and have decided to increase the beans I eat the meal before I go out--so like 2-3 hours before I run. I even wake up early, eat breakfast with a hearty serving of beans and go back to bed if I have an early workout. There's an section of the book that talks about how long something needs to be in your body before it's usable. I think it said a couple hours.

Good luck!

AND I think what's most surprising is that I haven't seen a lack of energy AT ALL on my runs due to lack of carbs. This diet rocks my world.


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I began running almost 2 years ago and like you I also love to run when possible. I had to train for a 5k as part of a triathlon and hated every minute of it. But then somewhere toward the end of the process as it became easier and less painful I began to love this time alone and on the open road. My waist slimmed, my love handles started to de-plump, and my stress levels were always taken to a zero on a long run. Also with 2 young children it was one of the best exercises I could do (my kids love the running stroller and my 1 year old takes a killer nap every time)

Anyway to answer your question:

I would suggest 2-3 runs per week. Aim for one run being your long run in your case a 5-10k distance, and two shorter runs. One of the shorts would be intervals/hills/etc. and the other an easy short run that is just for relaxation. Cross train on your other days and take a day or two off for rest.

My favorite resource ever is Marathon Training Academy, they are on the web and have an amazing free podcast. They have taught me so much about running, and building a base and appropriate training. I credit them for still being injury free 2 years into the sport, I would check it out, makes a great i-pod running companion.

Also, read the book "Born to Run" if you haven't already, I listened to it as I was training, it changed the way I run and the way I think about running (specifically minimalist running) forever.

Good luck, oh and about times: I would say avoid the mid afternoon sun and aim for the morning or the late afternoon early evening. Catching a sunrise or a sunset will not only make your run but quite possibly also your whole day!

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