Running, Lifting and Becoming a Marine Officer

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Running, Lifting and Becoming a Marine Officer

Question: I will try to keep this email short. I’m debating on becoming a Marine Officer. I was enlisted and am now at school. I have a little under 2 years before I would leave but I would need to start preparing now.

Cardio is my main devil here. I would need to get a 3 mile run time in under 20 min with a goal of doing it under 18. I can barely run 1.5 miles now without being out of breath. Realistically I would love to train in the mornings but I don’t know how much I should run or how many days a week or really where to plan.

If I do this I would have to scale back lifting a bit. I would need to do more functional fitness. Of course I would still keep the main lifts in every week. I was thinking for supplemental though adding in a lot of dips, push-ups, pull-ups, ab work and a fun lift or two that’s appropriate for the given day.

Monday
Press 5/3/1
Assistance: dips, push-ups, kettle bell shoulder press

Tuesday
Squat 5/3/1
Assistance:farmers walk, pull ups, ab work

Thursday
Bench 5/3/1
Assistance: dips, push-ups, kettle bell shoulder press

Friday
Deadlift 5/3/1
Assistance:farmer walks, pull-ups, ab work

What are your thoughts? I honestly need help with running the most and honestly I wouldn’t want to come to anyone else with as serious of a question as this.

Answer:

When you aren't in running shape, and I don't mean just your lungs, things can get tricky with your lifting.  "Running shape" also means your knees, hips, ankles and calves can tolerate the abuse.  However, the fact you can already run 1.5 miles, even if you are gasping for every breath is a good sign. Or at least not a horrible sign.

The thing you need to remember with your training is this: you are training to be a Marine Officer.  You are not training to become a Powerlifting Marine Officer or a Bodybuilder Marine Officer.  This has to be internalized. So many times I hear people who have what I call "asterisk goals."  Asterisk goals are when someone states they want to do something, usually something pretty grand but put some kind of limitation on themselves.  Here are some prime examples:

"I really want to deadlift 700lbs but I don't want to gain any weight."

"I want to get ripped this summer but I really don't want to be too hungry."

"I'm going to do a powerlifting meet but not until I can squat 500."

"I want to run a 3:30:00 marathon but I want to change my lifting at all."

Lots of good intentions that are being marred by weak thinking.  Asterisk goals are a very transparent form of self-sabotage.  Now before you Ka-Bar my testicles, I'm not saying you are doing this, but you have to avoid this line of thinking when it comes to reaching your goals.  Does this mean you are going to get weak and flaccid? No. But it does mean you will have to make sacrifices, especially in the beginning, to account for the new stress (running).

I address how to add running to any 5/3/1 program in the 5/3/1 Forever book but here are some easy ideas.

1. Choose the easiest 5/3/1 program for the main lifts.  I would recommend 5's PRO and 5x5 FSL for upper body and either 5's PRO, 3x5 FSL or just PR sets.  You have to find the most efficient way to train your big lifts without doing a ton of work.  Obviously you can do PR sets for the bench and press, too.  Remember that running takes a toll on your entire body, not just your lower body.

2. Don't be afraid to lift 2-3 days/week.  If you are feeling run down from the lifting and the running, don't hesitate to make this decision.

3. Don't just run for X amount of miles. Have one or two days be a combo of 100-400 meters.  A workout can be as simple as:

  • 2x400m (rest 90 seconds in between each)
  • 4x200m (rest 60 seconds)
  • 8x100m (rest 45 seconds)

Again, this is gone over in the book quite thoroughly.  Try to find a total distance you can easily handle and work up over time. On a third day, you can go for a longer run.  But don't just run mile after mile. 

4. Be wary of too much lower body assistance - especially in the beginning.  If you are running, and by "running" I don't mean "jogging" - then your running is essentially a leg exercise. In other words, don't lift like you aren't running.  Be smart.

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