Building Muscle & Distance Running

Back in 2009/10, running was everything. Long distance training runs on empty were par for the course and my weight fluctuated around the 11 stone mark. Five years have passed and I’m now at about 13 stone, the biggest I’ve ever been. Part due to sporadic visits to the weights room at the gym, and part a decrease in weekly mileage. I wanted to know whether it’s possible to build muscle and run distance.

Jesus Was A Road Runner

Standard hotel room selfie

Since returning from travelling,  I’ve gone from feeling completely out of place in the gym to, just out of place. I’ve never been big (as in muscular), but the extra few pounds I put on during my travels sure helped when I wanted to bulk up a little.

Routine and motivation go hand in hand, for me at least. For the best part of 2013 I was working two contracts, burning the candle both ends, not having enough hours to sleep, let alone squeeze in a fitness regime. It meant that my running just about kept ticking over, though more treadmill than road based, and my weight training would fit in around how busy my evening contract was. This meant that I didn’t get fast enough to brag, nor big enough to feel as though I’d succeeded.

Now into 2014, I’m determined to stay fit and healthy. This should be helped by just having the one employer and a few hours in the day to do as I please. I’ve clocked up just over 40 miles on the road with my Nike+ GPS Sportswatch and a few more on the treadmill. Twinned with participating in Dry January (no alcohol for the month), I’m feeling much healthier and my times / distances are seeing positive results. Things at the gym are going ok too, and although there are always good and bad days, it’s important to remember where I started – 11 stone and pretty gaunt to be honest.

However, with my running distances increasing, I wonder whether it’ll be possible to retain a certain physique whilst clocking up some impressive race times. Online research seems to indicate that the longer the distance, the harder it’ll be to gain muscle. Kind of a no brainer right; after all, how many marathon runners do you see that are well built? In contrast, sprinters are much more muscular, think Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and company. But I don’t want to be a sprinter, partly due to the pressures and I don’t think I’d be able to compete at a higher level.

Nike+ GPS Sportswatch Review

According to many posts, you shouldn’t really be running for more than an hour if you’re looking at keeping your muscle mass. So, for most that’s about 7 or 8 miles – again, that makes scientific sense. This also fits with my current running calendar which includes 2/3 seven mile runs per week, plus two trips to the weights room. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to my progress.

I’ll continue to read blogs and talk to friends, colleagues and random people on the street in order to gain insight on eating right, training right and so forth. But for now, I think I’ll continue down the road of maximum 8 mile runs and a couple of gym sessions per week and see how things go.

Do you have any tips for running and muscle gain? What’s the perfect balance between the two or are distance running and weight training mutually exclusive?

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4 thoughts on “Building Muscle & Distance Running

  1. The only real tip I know for building muscle is to eat LOADS. All the “big” guys I know seem to be constantly eating chicken and having a load of protein/whey shakes. If you read what the movie stars have to eat it’s ridiculous, 8 full meals a day.

    I don’t do enough weights to bulk up so I have to keep off the food so I don’t get fat! I know a few long distance runners who aren’t exactly skinny (certainly more muscley than I am) but they are more about the distance than the time, 6 miles per hour max

    • Hey Thom,

      I was worried you’d say that. I really don’t want to become an eating machine. I’ve resisted the temptation of the protein shakes so far as I fear that if / when I stop weight training, it’s just something else to become fat.

      It looks like I might have to settle for athletic / toned as opposed to bulked up.

      Thanks for your feedback – I hope that your training is going well, Terence

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