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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 07-29-2013, 06:46 PM   #11
Chris Mason
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

Alex is correct. The adaptation to prolonged endurance training is the polar opposite of strength training.

Why? There is an upper limit to oxygen the body can inhale, beyond that point endurance is improved primarily via adaptation at the muscular level by making the muscles more efficient with oxygen use. A large muscle is an oxygen inefficient muscle relatively speaking.

Does that mean you cannot strength train and train for prolonged endurance, no, but it does mean you will limit your potential on either front by doing both.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:18 PM   #12
Jeff Enge
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

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Originally Posted by Struan Potter View Post
Just throwing this out there, but 3 miles is long distance for a weightlifter haha.
Yes, but probably not long distance from an adaptation standpoint.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:28 PM   #13
Drew Cloutier
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

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Originally Posted by Richard Colon View Post
he might be able to chime in because I think he is on these boards but regardless, Alex Viada said the following:

One of the body’s adaptations to aerobic exercise is actually size REDUCTION of certain muscle fibers which makes them proportionately more efficient (by increasing relative blood flow, among other things.)


1) I believe him because anyone that strong and able to ultra/triathlon gets my attention and respect (pulled a 600+ DL and followed it up with a 30+ mile bike ride)
and
2) It makes sense
if you look at what Alex says though, he says in his articles that Type II fiber are not reduced in size from endurance running, only type I
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Old 07-31-2013, 02:22 AM   #14
Steven Wingo
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

3 miles at a time, just 3 or 4 times a week, may start to have an effect but probably not much. As pointed out, that is like a 20 minute AMRAP--something we do all the time and still short. As long you as you fuel up properly before hand, and eat well when recovering after, the affects are likely to be minimal.

Think about the energy requirements of a 3 mile run--about 300 to 400 calories. That is not much, and our bodies can store most of that in our liver, bloodstream, and through glycogen.

Now what if you increase that to an 8 mile run 4 times a week? Then you are looking at burning 800-1000 or more calories in about an hour. We can't store that much energy in our liver and bloodstream. Our glycogen stores have enough, but can't be accessed efficiently enough during a run to supply the rest of our energy needs. The result is you start wasting away muscle.

I used to be a runner and mountain biker/cyclist and, given my experience, feel that for the vast majority of people we don't need supplemental running. If you are doing a 45 minute to hour long metcon every other week (Murph as an example), and doing 2 or 3 WODs a week that are 20 minutes or so in duration, then you are getting plenty of cardio. The intensity of course needs to be there, but Crossfit advocates for that high intensity.

If you want to run, that is great running is fun, but when you start pushing the volume in distance and frequency then your strength will necessarily start to suffer to some extent. 12 or 15 miles a week is still fairly low volume, probably without too much affect, but you start getting in hour runs a few times a week and I'm betting you will really notice it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:34 PM   #15
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

I would only advocate one long run at most and maybe another medium run or intervals of 4 or 800s because no one really wants to run 1 mile repeats. Throw in some intervals of sprints and you have 3 days of running.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:32 PM   #16
Larry Bruce
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

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Originally Posted by Blair Robert Lowe View Post
I would only advocate one long run at most and maybe another medium run or intervals of 4 or 800s because no one really wants to run 1 mile repeats. Throw in some intervals of sprints and you have 3 days of running.
Funny you mention that. The roads around my place make a nice varied terrain circle and I use them for 1.25 mile repeats. Usually 3 of them, sometimes 2 for recovery, or 4 a longer go round. It's not very long distance but long enough for me. Agree with the mixture you suggest though!
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #17
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

A 1.25 mile lap or something more or less wouldn't be bad to repeat.

However, repeating a 400 4x for 1 rep sucks. At least for me. I could make myself run a 1200 in a series but 1600. No, I'm done.

If we had to do say a lap around the school or something like that. Not so bad.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:52 AM   #18
Kevin Cornell
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

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Originally Posted by Alex Chaney View Post
Has it been proven because it seems like they are extremely skinny compared to other athletes?
The answer to your question is Yes. Long distance running with affect muscle growth. The reason being, Your body is under such a demand everyday from the constant running that the muscles never get time to recover therefore, They break down. The best example of this would be to compare a 100m sprinter to a 26m marathon runner. The sprinter can recover from his work load while a long distance runner can not. The sprinters muscles look healthy and strong while the distance runners look worn out. Its neither good or bad, it just is.

One thing that I can say that will help keep muscle on while running long distance would be to sprint your miles more. Now this should not be done at full speed but at a greater rate then if you were to run a marathon. This will get you that muscle you want while still contributing to your time in the marathon. Hope this helps.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:22 AM   #19
Ross Hunt
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

Sometimes I think we are really too quick to start talking about marathoners when this debate comes up.

There is a really a massive middle ground in between a 100m sprinter and a marathoner, in terms of both physique and physical capacity. CrossFitters reject the physique and performance of the latter in favor of those of the former. CrossFit athletes and programming skew towards the former, with our winners weighing heavier than most professional athletes in most sports. And yet it seems to me to be the case that the energy system requirements and physiques of most athletes in most competitive sports fall somewhere in between.

The body types of elite middle distance runners are somewhat similar to those elite long distance runners, but IMHO that is because elite middle distance runners have hit the point where they can only increase their performance by pouring more work into increasing their aerobic capacity (hence high volume runs). However, most of us will not reach that point. I was able to run a 4:42 1500 about a month ago at 6'/185, with OK strength metrics and without losing strength, because I didn't have to do any running longer than 1600 in order to develop the anaerobic and aerobic capacity to run that 1500. The guy who beat me in that race ran a 4:20 and weighed about 30 pounds lighter. I think I will probably be able to get my mile down into the 4:30-4:45 range before I have to add volume to make my times improve.

So it seems like there is a whole modal domain of running, in between sprinting and long distance running, that is almost entirely aerobic but is nonetheless not at all detrimental to overall fitness.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:31 PM   #20
Larry Bruce
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Re: Does long distance running reduce muscle mass?

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Originally Posted by Kevin Cornell View Post
The answer to your question is Yes. Long distance running with affect muscle growth. The reason being, Your body is under such a demand everyday from the constant running that the muscles never get time to recover therefore, They break down. The best example of this would be to compare a 100m sprinter to a 26m marathon runner. The sprinter can recover from his work load while a long distance runner can not. The sprinters muscles look healthy and strong while the distance runners look worn out. Its neither good or bad, it just is.
That's just wrong. LD Runners do recover, and recovery from aerobic is much faster than anaerobic. Body protein breakdown occurs from any extended physical effort, whether it's aerobic running or weights or circuits. In most cases the muscle fibers that are used will retain protein.
It's just that with resistance work there is also additional stimulus to add to it further providing the diet is there.

If you look at the legs of many long distance runners they are very muscled, and very strong. It's just some of their upper bodies are flimsy because they don't train them, and don't want the extra mass; sprinters do because of the arm drive benefit.

Still, I suspect that few of us can sprint (200-400m) at the pace a 4 minute mile or even a 13:00 5K, or even a 28 minute 10K (about 67 second 400).
LD runners are friggin fast! That comes from speed strength.

Last edited by Larry Bruce; 08-11-2013 at 02:37 PM..
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