Hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me, Mike Matthews, your host, today to learn about running, specifically how to start running, how to get into running, or how to get back into running if it’s something you were once into and then fell out of and now want to resume.
Now, why might you want to start running? Well, it’s a great way to enhance your health and enhance your cardiovascular fitness, and your longevity, and your overall well being. And while running by itself is not an effective weight loss strategy, a lot of research has shown. That many people who want to lose weight, they start running and they don’t lose much weight on average, if any weight at all.
But, that doesn’t mean that running can’t help you lose weight, can’t help you lose fat, can’t help you achieve your body composition goal. It just means that you have to combine it with an effective diet. You have to combine it with an understanding and implementation. of a calorie deficit, so you have to consistently eat fewer calories than you burn over time.
It also helps to know a bit about macronutrients, for example, that protein is the most important macronutrient if you want to enhance your body composition, not carbohydrate. In fact, how many carbs you eat or don’t eat isn’t going to impact your body composition much one way or another, the carbs are not going to make you fat, they’re not going to keep you fat.
What makes people fat is too many calories too often. What keeps people fat is eating more or less the same amount of calories that they’re burning over time when they are already overweight or obese because eating maintenance calories maintains. That’s the body composition that you have. So if you’re overweight or you are obese and you are eating maintenance calories, which means that on average, your calories in tend to match your calories out and you could look at that over the course of individual days or weeks or even months.
And when that’s the case, there will be short term fluctuations in body composition. You will gain a little bit of fat, lose a little bit of fat, but generally speaking, your body comp will remain the same. And so. Simply adding running is not enough if you just eat more food to offset the calories burned through running, which can be fairly significant.
And because running can burn a lot of calories, hundreds of calories per hour, it can help you lose fat or lose fat faster, but again, You have to know what you’re doing with your diet and if you want to learn more about that specifically head over to legionathletics.com and search for meal planning and check out an article I wrote on how to create effective meal plans.
That’ll give you everything you need to understand. How to create and maintain that calorie deficit that is all important when you are trying to lose fat.
Okay, so you’re interested in starting a running program or maybe getting back into running because you want to burn more calories, you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you want to maybe improve your mood, you want to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, sleep better, you want to improve your bone health.
You want to reduce your risk of chronic disease. And by the way, those are all scientifically proven benefits of doing regular cardiovascular training doesn’t have to be running per se. It could be, well, it could be biking. It could be swimming. It could be playing sports. It could be rowing. It could be whatever activity you enjoy that elevates your Heart rate and keeps it elevated for extended periods of time.
But of course, in this podcast, we are talking about running. And by the way, if you also do some sort of resistance training, which I hope you are doing because the resistance training is more important for your long-term health and. fitness and well being. Maintaining an above average amount of muscle and strength is more important than maintaining an above average level of cardiovascular fitness, but doing both is best.
And so if you are doing Regular resistance training, you might be concerned that running is going to interfere with that significantly. You’ve probably heard that. You’ve probably heard of the interference effect. I’ve spoken about it over the years. I’ve written about it over the years. And in case you are not familiar with the theory, it’s pretty simple.
It goes like this. Cardiovascular training and strength training are two different training stimuli, and they produce two different adaptations in the body. And those adaptations are fundamentally at odds with each other. And what that means then is your body can’t effectively adapt to both at the same time.
They are mutually exclusive to some degree, and therefore they can interfere with each other. And when people talk about the interference effect, they are specifically talking about cardiovascular training. interfering with strength training, and this has been an ongoing topic of research and debate and the current weight of the evidence is that it is a real thing.
There is some truth to what I just outlined, however, it’s not as pronounced as many people would have you believe. Doing a bit of cardio is not going to kill your gains. What research shows is that doing a lot of cardio can get in the way of gaining muscle and strength. But it does require a lot. I’m talking about multiple hours of cardio per week, not an hour or two or three, but probably six, seven, eight, nine plus hours of cardio per week.
And research shows that the amount of impact involved in the cardio matters as well because that causes more wear and tear that your body has to recover from. So running has a lot more impact than biking, for example, and that’s why research shows that running in particular can produce this interference effect.
If you do too much of it, and that’s the key, if you do too much of it, or if you do too much high intensity running. So think sprinting on concrete. If you were to do just an hour of that per week, it would probably be enough to produce enough of an interference effect that you would notice it if you were diligent about tracking your training and you were paying attention to rate of progress and maybe paying attention to amount of soreness and your reps in reserve and your training you might notice after adding the sprinting to your regimen that your normal training weights start to feel heavier so a weight that you could squat for let’s say Four, five, six reps with two to three good reps left turns into a set of the same number of reps, but now it’s with one good rep left.
You really had to work to do what you could do a bit easier previously. And of course that’s significant because reps in reserve, the number of good reps you still have in the tank, that’s a good initial barometer of progress. That’s the first stage of progress. If you are making progress, your training weights are Feeling lighter and you can express that through reps and reserve because let’s say you’re benching 225 for five and you could have done one or maybe two more reps and then you would have failed.
So that’s one or two reps in reserve. You work at it and you’re looking through your training logs and now. You are doing 2 25 for sets of five with two or three good reps left. So your reps in reserve have gone up, your strength has gone up a little bit. And then what will happen next is you will start to do more reps with 2 25 because it’s going to feel too light.
You’re gonna do 2 25 for five with three or four good reps left. And that is uh, not. optimal training intensity. If you’re trying to make progress, you want to be pushing a bit closer to failure, something closer to one to two good reps left. So what do you do? You do more reps. So now you are doing 225 for six reps with, let’s say one or two good reps left.
Great. You’ve made progress. You were doing 225 for five, one to two good reps left. Now, you worked at it, you’re doing 225 for 6 with 1 to 2 good reps left. And depending on what program you’re following, like if you were following my Bigger, Leaner, Stronger program, for example, once you hit 6 reps and you have at least 1 to 2 good reps left, it’s time to add weight to the bar.
So now you would add 5 or 10 pounds to the bar, you would lose a couple of reps. And then you would repeat that process with the new heavier weight. You would work with it until it starts to feel lighter. And then once you are too far from failure, you would add reps to get closer to failure. And then once you achieved your rep target, which in the case of bigger, leaner, stronger, it would be six or it would be eight, depending on the exercise.
Actually, I should mention, it’s going to be six with all the major compound exercises, and it’s going to be eight with the isolation exercises. And if you want to learn about the program, The best way is just to read the book bigger, leaner, stronger. And specifically, by the way, that book is for men aged, let’s say 18 to 45, who have yet to gain their first 30 ish pounds of muscle and the strength that comes with that, which is going to vary person to person.
But is going to be certainly in the 200s on the bench press and in the high 200, maybe low 300s on the squat and somewhere in the 300s to probably low 400s on the deadlift. Now, if you are a woman aged 18 to let’s say 40, 45, I would recommend thinner, leaner, stronger. Even if you don’t want to get thinner per se, that is the book that I wrote specifically for You and I actually preferred the title fitter, leaner, stronger, but in surveying a lot of women who were in my target demographics for the book, they much preferred thinner, leaner, stronger.
It surveyed like twice as well on a scale of one to five, just one being I hate it. Five being I love it. So I went with thinner, leaner, stronger. And finally, if you are a man or woman new to strength training and you are. Over 40 to 45 years old, then you want to check out my book, Muscle for Life. That was written specifically for you.
The programming is specifically for you. Okay, so let’s get back on track here. Running interference effect. My point is you don’t have to worry about it unless you are doing too much running or too much high intensity running. And to put a simple number to it, if you limit the amount of running, and this is kind of a good rule just generally for cardio, but specifically for running.
If you limit the amount of running you do. To no more than the amount of strength training you do in terms of time. So let’s say you are doing three to five hours of strength training per week. All right. So no more than three to five hours of running per week, you’re going to be fine. It’s not going to impair your progress to any meaningful.
degree in your strength training. And if you want to also include some high intensity cardio in your program, and there are good reasons to do that. Some people just like it, especially the feeling they get after you get that post hit high, but it also is great for improving your VO2 max. And it is a great way to burn a lot of calories in a shorter period of time.
If you want to get. everything out of cardio, all the benefits that it can offer, then you do want to include some high intensity work in your regimen. 80 percent of the benefits come from just doing several hours of moderate intensity cardio every week, but the minority of benefits, the remaining benefits come from including some high intensity work.
So if you want to do high intensity cardio as well, I recommend no more than one hour per week, and that may need to be less. It may need to be something closer to 30 minutes per week. If you are doing high intensity, high impact cardio sprinting on concrete, for example, which I wouldn’t recommend.
Sprinting is fine, but why make it harder on your body than it needs to be, particularly on your joints and connective tissues. So sprint on grass, sprint on a track, which is made to be easier on your joints, sprint up a grassy hill. That has a reasonable, a manageable incline. That’s a great option for even less impact than running on flat grass.
But if it’s all the same to you, I would recommend a low impact or no impact form of cardio for your high intensity work in particular. Biking, for example, is great. Swimming is great. Rowing is great. Okay, so now let’s talk about getting into running. How to start running. The first step is one that many people skip.
And that is walking. Many people try to go from being sedentary, often they are overweight, to just going for runs, and it’s too hard. It’s too hard on their cardiovascular system, it’s too hard on their joints, and they quickly burn out, and quit, and feel like a failure. Well, an easy way to avoid all of that is to start with walking first.
Is exercise. It’s not particularly challenging exercise, objectively speaking, but subjectively, it can be challenging depending on where you’re at. And that’s what we want. We want to challenge your cardiovascular system. And if walking accomplishes that, then great. That’s where we start. And specifically you want to be able to do, let’s say three to five, 30 minute brisk.
Walks every week until that is not cardiovascularly challenging until you don’t feel much of an elevation in your heart rate where you are not breathing heavily, you can easily have a conversation if you’re on the phone, they wouldn’t necessarily even know that you’re walking. And then once you have that lick, you can start with the running.
Please don’t skip this step. If again, you’re overweight and you are sedentary and you are newly getting into running. Many people who are overweight, they think that they need to run to lose weight. When in actuality, it’s the other way around. They need to lose weight to be able. to run and that weight loss process can begin with walking for the exercise component.
And of course, it has to begin with regulating calories to produce that calorie deficit. That is absolutely non negotiable. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me do more of it, please do check out my sports nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements at all to build muscle.
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Check us out, take advantage of our big sale before it’s too late. Okay. So you’re doing your walks and you have improved your fitness to where the walks are no longer challenging. And you’re ready to move on to the second phase of getting into running. And that is the run walk method. So this is very simple.
It’s a strategy that involves breaking your workout into running and walking intervals that allow you to build your stamina. while minimizing the risk of aches and pains and injuries and burnout. So for example, you might start with one minute of running followed by two minutes of walking, and then you could repeat those intervals for the length of your workout.
And then as your fitness improves, the aim is to gradually increase the Duration of the running intervals and decrease the duration of the walking intervals until, of course, you don’t need the walking intervals anymore. Okay, so three levels of difficulty here for the run walk method. The first is the beginner level, and you run for 10 to 30 seconds, and then you walk for 1 to 2 minutes.
And then once that is no longer challenging enough and an easy way to monitor the difficulty is just how labored you’re breathing. is we’re generally going for maybe a five or six out of ten in terms of effort, and that should cause you to breathe more heavily than you would if you were just sitting on the couch, but it should allow you to also maintain a conversation.
You’re gonna have to catch your breath here and there. The person you’re speaking to is gonna hear some huffing and puffing. Let’s say you’re on the phone. Not that I would necessarily recommend being on the phone when you’re going for a run. You can if you want to, but many people like to enjoy the run.
And pay attention to their environment rather than try to maintain a conversation. But if you were on the phone, you could have the conversation, but they’re going to know that you are exercising another green flag that you’re in the optimal intensity zone is in addition to the labor breathing is you feel like you could go on more or less indefinitely.
The physical difficulty as well as your perception of the difficulty isn’t slowly increasing. It’s staying more or less at that five or six out of ten. It’s not after a minute or two minutes going up to seven or eight and now your breathing is even more labored and you can’t just have a free flowing conversation.
You can only speak maybe in one or two lines at a time before having to catch your breath and pain is starting to accumulate in your Limbs and systemic fatigue is starting to accumulate and so forth. If that’s happening, then you are pushing it a little bit too hard. And so, we have this beginner level, 10 to 30 seconds of running, 1 to 2 minutes of walking.
And then, once that gets too easy, once that brings you down to maybe a 2 or 3 or 4 out of 10, in terms of difficulty, you graduate to the intermediate level of run walk, and that is 1 to 5 minutes of… running and then one to two minutes of walking. So you work through that range where eventually you’re doing five minutes of running one minute of walking.
So you’re moving up with the running and down with the walking and that is no longer challenging enough. And then you have the advanced level of run walk, which is six to eight minutes of running followed by 30 to 60 seconds of walking. And you just work with. Those parameters until eight minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking is no longer challenging enough, and then you’re ready to get rid of the walking altogether.
Now, before I continue, I want to comment briefly on a common mistake that people make when they get into running. I just mentioned this kind of obliquely, but I want to call it out specifically, and that is becoming preoccupied with how fast and how far you can run with your mile times. For example, that’s a mistake because in the beginning.
You just want to be able to run for as long as possible at a slow, but steady pace. You want to be able to maintain that slow, but steady pace for long periods of time. And then once you can do that, you’re ready to start paying attention to your speed and your mileage. Okay, moving on. Another important point when you are new to running or getting back into it newly if you haven’t really worked on this previously, and that is your technique, there is a proper technique to running, there are many incorrect ways to run, there is one correct way to run, and here’s how it looks.
So your posture. It should be upright. It should be relaxed. You should be leaning forward slightly. You shouldn’t be hunching. You want to have those shoulders back. You want to have those shoulder blades slightly pinched because slouching can negatively affect your breathing. You want your arms to swing naturally with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
You do not want your hands to cross your body’s center line. They should be moving at your sides. You want to look forward. not down. You want to strive to land on your midfoot or your toes, not on your heels, and you don’t want to over stride. You don’t want your stride to be too large. You want your feet to be landing beneath your hips.
And all of that takes a little bit of practice. You have to work on it. It can help if somebody can video you just running for a short distance so you can connect what you feel you’re doing with what you are actually doing. And usually when you are learning any physical activity, there’s a disconnect in the beginning of what you are actually doing versus what you perceive you’re doing.
And one of the Most effective ways to calibrate those things to connect in your brain, the feeling, the subjective, with the reality, with the objective, is to work on video. So, you try your best to do the things that I just mentioned, you look at the video and you see if you are not doing any of the things well enough and then you correct by usually over correcting.
So for example, if your stride is still too large, you are trying to land right beneath your hips, but you actually are more a foot out in front. Don’t try subjectively to shorten it by one foot. Try to shorten it by two feet or even three feet and you’ll find that’s probably what it takes to just shorten it by one foot.
So you work on your corrections on video until you’re happy with what you see and then you practice doing it that way consciously and periodically checking again on video to make sure that you haven’t reverted to maybe it’s a bad habit if you were into running previously or maybe it’s just a bad inclination for whatever reason you tend to just have that longer stride and it’s going to take reps to ingrain the shorter stride.
Now you might be wondering why I didn’t mention anything about breathing because some people who are really into running and who are good at running will talk about the importance of breathing strategies like breathing in for two steps and then out for two steps but there’s little evidence that any of those strategies are better than just breathing naturally.
So that’s my advice. Breathe naturally, whether that’s through your nose or through your mouth or both. And you can try breathing strategies that are out there if you want to, but don’t expect them to make much of a difference. Okay. So now let’s come back to programming. I touched on it a little bit with the guidelines I shared for the run walk method, which is the place to start for most people, at least.
But how do you go from, let’s say, being able to run five, six, seven. eight minutes continuously, which is basically the advanced level of that run walk method that I shared to being able to run for, let’s say, 30 minutes continuously. And for that, I’m going to share with you an eight week program that will take you from being able to run, let’s say, at least three minutes continuously.
You want to use the run walk guidelines that I shared to get to at least three minutes. of continuous running comfortably, but I would recommend going a bit further than that, probably five or six minutes, and then you can start this eight week program that will slowly progress you toward being able to run for 30 minutes continuously.
And if listening to this program makes it hard to follow if you’d rather just see it visually head over to legionathletics.com search for running and you’ll find an article how to start running and it has all the information that I’ve been sharing in this podcast. It has basically been the outline for this podcast.
So in it, you will see the program in a table. format, and you could save the image and just follow it. Okay, so as I think I mentioned earlier, the program has three runs per week. I recommend putting one to two days in between the runs. And week one, run one looks like this. Three minutes of running, two minutes of walking for 20 minutes.
So you have your 3 2 interval, 20 minutes, pretty simple. Your second run, same intervals, 25 minutes. Third run, Same intervals, 30 minutes. Week number 2, we’re now going to run for 3 minutes and walk for 1 minute. So we have taken the amount of walking down, kept the amount of running, at least in terms of the ratio, our intervals stays the same.
3 1 now for 20 minutes. Run number 2, 3 1 for 24 minutes. Run number 3, 3 1 for 28 minutes. Week number three, we’re now going to run a bit more. We’re going to run for four minutes and then walk for one minute. We’re going to repeat that for 20 minutes. And then run number two is run for four, walk for one, same intervals, 25 minutes.
Run number three, same intervals for 30 minutes. Week four, we are going to do a little bit more running now. We are going to run for five minutes and walk for one minute in this first run. So five, one. for 18 minutes, run number 2, 5 1 for 24 minutes, run number 3, 5 1 for 30 minutes. Week 5, a little bit more running still.
So now we’re going 6 1 in this first run for 21 minutes, 6 1 for 28 minutes in run number 2, and 6 1 for 35 minutes in run number 3. Week 6, 7 1 in this first run for 24 minutes. So 7 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking repeat for 24 minutes. Run number 2, 7 1 for 32 minutes. Run number 3, 7 1 for 40 minutes.
Week 7 is 8 1 for 27 minutes. That’s our first run. And then… Run number 2, 8 1 for 36 minutes, and run number 3, 8 1 for 45 minutes. And finally, we have week 8, where we start. Our first run is 10 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking for 33 minutes. Run number 2 is 12 1, so 12 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking for 39 minutes, followed by run number 3, The milestone week eight run for 30 minutes continuously.
All right, so before I wrap this up, a few more items that I want to touch on a little bit of housekeeping. One is gear, so that’s shoes and clothing in the running world. And contrary to what many big shoe brands would have you believe, you don’t necessarily need fancy running shoes with advanced technology.
A lot of that is just marketing. Puffery, what matters the most is that your shoes fit comfortably and the best way to find shoes that are comfortable is just to try different ones in the store, jog around, see which ones feel best on your feet when you’re running. And as for clothing, same concept, just choose what’s comfortable.
Usually that’s going to be clothing that wicks away moisture from your skin and isn’t tight or restrictive. So there’s not a lot of rubbing. Now, sports bras are an exception to the rule. You’re going to want one that offers good support and that prevents movement that could cause pain or chafing. Now, as for nutrition before, during and after workouts, we can keep it simple.
You can eat a light meal containing, let’s say, 20 to 40 grams of protein and carbs anywhere one to three hours before you go for a run. And then within, let’s say, one to three hours of finishing a workout, eat another meal that contains about the same amount of protein and carbs. You don’t have to follow a specific hydration plan.
You don’t have to try to force yourself to drink a certain amount of water. For example, you can just drink to thirst before you begin and then immediately after your workout. You don’t need to drink sports drinks. You don’t need to buy electrolyte supplements because they are not going to aid your performance and they may even be detrimental to your health, especially if you’re going to get more into endurance training.
And you are going to be going for longer and more intense runs. And if you want to learn more about that point in particular, uh, hydration and electrolyte supplements, and if you want to know why I don’t offer an electrolyte supplement, even though it’s a big market and many people ask me if I’m going to make one or they would like Legion to have one, head over to legionathletics.com, search for electrolytes, you know, find an article on why electrolyte supplements are basically a scam. For the vast majority of people, they offer no meaningful benefits. Okay, the final advice I want to share is how to start running again after a layoff. So if the break is short, let’s say it’s two weeks or less, you should be able to just pick up where you left off on the program.
Or if you’ve now progressed beyond that program, generally speaking, you should be able to just get right back into your normal running workouts and feel fine. If the Break is slightly longer. So if it’s two to four weeks, you are probably not going to be able to get right back into it without it feeling way more difficult than it should.
So I recommend that you cut your run duration by about one third. When you restart, you can keep all the other parameters, the same, just run a bit less. So if your pre break runs were 45 minutes, aim for about 30 minutes in your first week back. And then from there, progressively add. Five minutes per week to those runs until you’re back to your normal 45 minute run or runs.
It can be multiple runs, and so your runs would be 30 minutes in week 1, 35 minutes in week two, 40, week three, and then back to 45 by week four. Now, if it is an extended break, let’s say four to eight weeks, then cut your run duration by at least half when you restart, and then gradually add those five minutes back.
Per run per week until you are back to your previous routine. And if it’s a long break, if it’s many months, let’s say, just take it easy. When you restart, it’s hard to give a one size fits all answer there. It depends on various factors, but you might even want to take the run walk program that I shared with you, the eight week program and start somewhere.
In that maybe you don’t need to start with week one because you’ve still maintained a certain level of cardiovascular fitness. Maybe you can start at week four and that’s the optimal difficulty for you and then work from let’s say week four to week eight working up to that 30 minute continuous run being able to do that now a couple of times per week and then working back toward whatever you were doing previously.
Well, I hope you liked this episode, I hope you found it helpful, and if you did, subscribe to the show, because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes, and it also helps me, because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people, who may like it just as much as you, and if you didn’t like something about this episode, or about the show in general, or if you have ideas, or suggestions, or just Feedback to share, shoot me an email, [email protected]. Muscle F O R life. com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.