Don't be surprised, I will tell you in detail how I did it, and it will be up to you to decide whether or not you would want to compete in such event. In order to achieve this, you must follow a similar path, make many sacrifices, and seriously compromise and disrupt your current training program for a period of time.
Let me tell you how the whole thing started. I planned to participate in a long distance event such as a marathon for a while. When the first marathon in my area was unexpectedly announced, I took the firm decision to participate. I signed up on the first registration day. The event was close! I had only three months to get ready. Everyone around me was surprised and no one could believe how serious I was. Running a marathon seemed an impossible task for a guy like me?
Before starting my conditioning for the marathon, I weighed 200 lbs. My muscles consisted mostly of fast-twitch fibers, since I hadn't done any kind of aerobic exercise in the previous 9-month period. My training consisted of three 1-hour bodybuilding sessions per week.
So I devised a running program. On the first day, I jogged at a speed of 8 km/h, and my heart rate was around 180 bpm. That's more than 90% of my maximum heart rate! I was in a very poor condition for any running event, let alone a marathon!
My energy system had not worked aerobically for a long time. My aerobic endurance was low. My slow twitch muscle fibers were too few. My VO2 max was too low. I changed my food proportions to 25% fat, 15% protein and 60% carbohydrates. It was hard to accelerate in the beginning, but the challenge enticed me to go on through this tough process. As the training days went by, I managed to raise my running speed, lower my heart rate and lose weight.
My muscle fibers were gradually switching from type II to type I and my aerobic endurance was improving. It became possible to set a workable target heart rate zone. My muscles were shrinking at a very fast pace ... no worry, I thought to myself. I'll finish what I started, and then get back to my normal self afterward.
I didn't completely stop weight training, but my program changed. I performed high repetitions (25-50 slow rhythmic repetitions) at 20% of 1RM.
One month before the marathon date, I ran 16 miles in 2h 30 minutes. Great! So I started tapering off till the day of the event.
On marathon day, I weighed 176 Lbs.
The Day Of The Event
I just went there and ran through the whole event! It was an extremely hard and challenging race for me. When I passed the 18-mile mark, I was a running wreck!Every part of my body begged me to quit. Total exhaustion, excruciating pain in the knees, small cramps in the quadriceps, stiffness in the trapezius ... none of it made me quit, as my mind took over, pushing me through until the finishing line.
Any thoughts of abandoning were immediately dispelled by the anticipated feelings of disappointment. The extreme satisfaction after completing the race was dizzying enough to quench the lingering pain in my body. And while I missed weight training a lot, I got back to it after a short resting period of one week.
Getting back to weight training was hard and frustrating. I can't describe the feelings of unease while lifting moderate weights. It was as difficult as working with the heavy weights of a while ago.
If you are a bodybuilder or powerlifter and think that completing a marathon is impossible, I have news for you! I did it! You must be ready to part with a sizeable proportion of your muscle mass that you spent so many hard hours accumulating, as well as work on improving your aerobic performance. You can always get back to your previous routine later on.
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