Cardio Before Or After Weights? 5 Possible Answers

Right off the bat I think the best answer is Cardio then weights. Why? I hear cardio, especially running, is entirely catabolic and takes a long time to recover from. However you can prime your hormones for recovery with the anabolic response to strength training. So weights after cardio is the best way to recover from cardio.

And I’m not going to mention the opposite because as far as I know there’s no benefit to it.

So that’s possibility one. You can eat before, after, or during, or all of the above.

But maybe you don’t have the glorious amount of free time I do and can’t get in an hour of running followed immediately by an hour of lifting. Maybe you have a job or a life or even both or maybe, just maybe, that exercise load is high for your current level and it sucks too much for you right now.

Then, possiblity two, I’d start with a run – or whatever cardio but I’m always going to say run – in the morning to wake up. Then eat right away and rest. Rest hard. For at least 3 hours then hit the weights. If you don’t eat and rest you’re just sabotaging the strength training.

Possibility three then would of course be the opposite. Maybe you really like hitting the weights in the morning. So do it. I’d either eat and wait at least an hour upon waking up then lift heavy for few reps.

Then eat a lot and rest hard, like a hot bath and some yoga, before heading out for a run much later. Otherwise you’re asking for form breakdown and you’re really increasing your injury risk.

Now let’s you work a physical job. With a desk job you’re over-resting all day and that has it’s own set of problems that gets talked about a lot but there’s less out there for people who’s work is work.

Possibility four would be a run before work to wake up and loosen up. Then eat and make work your active recover for the day.

When it’s time to lift weight afterwards you can build your lifting plan around what you did at work. If you spent all day picking things up off the ground obviously don’t do high volume deadlifts. Do pull ups or overhead work. The key is to balance out whatever you did on the job with whatever you do at the gym.

So the opposite, Possibility five, would be hitting the weights before work and running after.

In that case I would structure the work out with higher reps and lighter weights. Even if you ate breakfast you won’t have digested it yet and you’ll need to work out the sleep stiffness so don’t get under a heavy barbell first thing in the morning.

And at work if you’re sore or feel an injury coming on don’t push it, don’t man up. You think maybe you should ask for help lifting something because it’s awkwardly shaped and your back feels strained? You goddamn do it. Asking for help might feel foolish for a few seconds but you’ll forget, hurting yourself at work will make you feel like an idiot for however many weeks it takes to recover.

Then in the evening have some liquid carbs so you’re not burning from an already empty barrel and take a relaxing wind-down jog. The solo time will take your head out of work-mode and you’ll shake off any stiffness that work might accumulate.

So there you go, one of those options will surely work for you but try out even the ones you think might not, it’s best to leave no doubt.

On Caffeine Pills

A little history:

I drink a lot of coffee. I have two tattoos celebrating my love of coffee.

But I didn’t drink coffee on race days – for a nice comfortable stomach.

Then I saw a bottle of caffeine pills in the supplement isle and thought of course! And now here we are…

So I skipped coffee and had a 200mg pill before a training session one day – and coincidently we’d splurged and had huge bowls of homemade mac and cheese the night before – I felt gross during the run but I chalked it up to that and called the test a wash.

The next day I took one and merely went to work. No ill effects.

Race day I took one the morning and warmed up just fine, feeling amped. Then went off the start line and felt like I might throw up. Like I might need to throw up. I thought maybe it was a combination of nerves and the fact that I was going off the line a lot faster than normal because it was only 10k and I wanted to rip it up.

Got 41:47 btw, ripping it up confirmed but I felt shakey for 7 of those k.

Today I popped another one to prepare for a race Sunday. Race day routine every morning for at least 3 days out, you know it.

And I did a work out and part way through that work out that same sick feeling came back.

So here’s my totally made up unscientific hypothesis on me and caffeine pills: they don’t do anything until my heart rate gets up and then they kick in all at once.

I figure 200mg ain’t that much. It’s like one strong cup and I drink four cups a day.

But I don’t drink four cups at once. I realize I actually drink coffee pretty slowly. I drink half a cup, it gets cold, I top it up, I drink half a cup, I top it up, repeat.

– that could be the chorus of a song about my life –

And so over some hours I’ve had four cups. But not a crazy rush.

Lesson learned

Taper Week Advice: Get Your Relaxing Done Early

There’s a temptation when tapering for a race to relax a lot. There’s also a temptation to train right through and even panic-train and mess up your race. It’s a tough life, tapering.

But I’m going to talk about strategic relaxing because that’s a mistake I recently made. Hoping to be really fresh for a run I did a float tank and an infrared sauna the day before a race.

Bottom line: It screws up your movement patterns. You’re used to having some tension in the system, and if you strip it all away and get all loosey goosey (or worse relax one leg completely while the other is still holding some tension because it’s nearer to injury) then running feels weird.

That’s the last thing you want on race day. Really there’s a million worse thing on race but whatever…

Point is you want to get super relaxed 5 and 4 days out then start working out again 3, 2, 1. Keep the work outs light, fun, form-focused, but start getting some tension back into your muscles, it’s your normal.


Time To Start Prepping For The Spartan Race

I’m signed up for a Spartan 5k August 10th. I’m nervous.

Mostly because it’s going to destroy my clothes and I don’t have any other running gear nor money for such a thing. I’ll wear my old, ill-fitting shoes and my old swim trunks I guess.

I need to bring a plastic bag to put my muddy kit in after the race.

Of course I’m also nervous because when you see video of the Spartan Race the obstacles look nutso – spear-throwing and carrying buckets of cement and whatnot.

Hmm, not much else to say… for the amount of anxiety I feel there’s usually a lot more to write about.

The nice thing is though I don’t care about my time or anything like that, it’s just for fun. I don’t even find it weird that I want to crawl through mud under barbed wire for fun.

Running Update: What a total shock I hurt myself during the taper

3 days out from the marathon and my back is… well it hurts.

As happens to so many people I was resting, resting, resting, being smart and safe before the race and then I felt like I hadn’t exercised in forever and I was getting fat and lazy so what do I do…?

Go beast mode of course. Dive into my favourite hard work out that I used to do everyday so of course I just gotta power through it.

Don’t do that, kids. When you’re resting for any reason and get back to working out do not pick up where you left off and certainly don’t try to pick up from your highlights.

I used to do 75 kettlebell swings with 45lbs every day. The first time I did it wrecked me, put me on all fours scared I’d vomit. Eventually I was up to 80 and staying on my feet.

When we’re feeling weak we think back to when we felt strong and try to recreate it.

This morning 75 kettlebell swings wrecked me like day one but also I’ve been unable to bend at the waist or even lean forward and pick something up all day.

So float and/or sauna and rest it til race day, baby.

Speaking of raceday: we’re meeting at the finish line at 10 and then Barcelona at 11 – table for six under my name.

Just More Thoughts On Caster Semenya

I’m crossing over into being part of the problem. Not everyone cares about this situation and certainly fewer people are informed but when it seems to be everywhere more and more people get drawn into believing they’re informed and taking a side.

But I cannot stop thinking about this and neither can a lot of people and it seems to me that I’ve wound up on a side and some people I like and respect feel different and wound up on the other.

So here’s the article that convinced me. A Victory For Female Athletes Everywhere I agree that Caster’s biological advantage takes away the reason we have a female designation in sport. If we don’t set aside a space for women in sport then men would dominate everything and this is actually an insidious case of that happening.

I see it as a case of The Needs Of The Many, yes it feels unfair to Caster and it’s natural people want to protect her, but it’s also unfair to every other woman running at the elite level and it’s the organizations job to protect the space those women inhabit.

If Caster isn’t allowed to compete and it fucks up the trajectory of her life that’s tremendously sad but she does have options. If she is allowed to compete it fucks up the trajectory of an uncountable amount of women’s lives, women who have no recourse.

I want to snip out a few quotes from an article in The Cut:

Semenya has elevated the bar of speed toward which all women runners can gaze, and hope to one day beat.

The problem is that all women can’t hope to beat it, not even elite women can hope to beat it. Because:

most females have about 0.12–1.79nmol/L of testosterone in their bodies versus males, who have 7.7–29.4nmol/L. Caster falls within the latter range.

and apparently there are some people who believe:

No conclusive evidence exists to suggest that testosterone correlates to enhanced performance.

Which is insane. The conclusive evidence is that we ban taking exogenous testosterone in sport. Shout out again to my review of The Virility Paradox, testosterone will make anyone better at almost anything. Bankers, investors, lawyers, soldiers, and oh yeah athletes of either gender show that more testosterone leads to more success.

My mind is zooming out to an uncomfortable place but it seems that some people are arguing at once that gender oppression is a problem and that gender doesn’t exist.

I guess what the line of thinking in the Semenya situation is, for my friends, we should protect anyone who identifies as female from anyone who doesn’t. And for me it’s how to do we protect those who identify as female from someone else who identifies as female?

What does it mean to identify as female if female doesn’t refer to anything? If it doesn’t mean testosterone levels or reproductive capabilities? Is it, at this point, just to belong to what you see as the out-group of a patriarchal society?

Running update: last big day before tapering

3 hour long intervals, plus some fueling insights

I ran a lot slower than my last 30k day. Partly just gun shy from how bad I hit the wall that day but also because I know I’ve got to save some power for the long race.

I still race like I spend. Have a hundred, spend a hundred.

It’s why my legs hurt and I’m broke.

But also I set the treadmill to periodic hills and the motherfucker went beast mode on me.

I like my incline around .5 to 2 and this was all 6s and 7s.

(That’s a great British slang pun for the majority of you who wouldn’t have gotten that.)

But today’s surprise was that while my cardio was fine what feels like my tendons were aching.

Because we went a week without groceries my protein was low this week and I actually felt great about this morning. I’m so lean and easy. I ate mostly donuts yesterday and had pancakes for dinner and I woke with the most tapered, unbloated, waistline I’ve had in months. Since I was a slow carber with the zeal of the converted.

But I’m sure I could use some amino acids and collegen now.

I ended up walking in the last half of the last interval, and I checked my heart rate because my level of exertion felt fine and sure enough it was just pain in my feet, ankles, shins, and knees that was making me want to walk.

To take my mind off it I texted my ex and mocked her a little for being single. Because… like the shirt says, you gotta run happy.