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How to get lean while running competitively

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

I'm a 16 year old female who has been running for the past two years. I represent my school in distance events (1500, 3000 and cross country) and my season's about to be over soon; I also take part in 5Ks and 10Ks (PR 20:15 and 41:31 respectively) on my own. I'm not running slowly at 'fat loss rate'.

My mileage is around 30-40 miles a week, but since I'll be focusing on 5K after season is over, I'll be increasing my mileage to ~40-50 miles. I lifted last year and stopped when season started, but I'll be going back to lifting - squats (5x5 at 25-30kg - my max was 45kg last year), deadlifts (45kg), bench press, suitcase deadlifts, tricep kickbacks, dumbbell pullover, overhead press etc. (Upper body 1x/week, lower body 1x/week)

I eat mainly Paleo, but I let myself cheat a little by having rice when eating out, which isn't often anyway. I probably eat more carbs than the average Paleo person, mostly from chestnuts and potatoes and sweet potatoes.

I'm 5'5 and 52kg/115lbs. Body fat is probably in the 22-24% range, though I'm not very certain. I'm not looking to lose weight necessarily, but to lean out so that I can a) run faster, and b) look better. I've got some extra flab around the usual areas - thighs, stomach, arms - so I'd like to get leaner without compromising my running training.

In a nutshell, how do I get leaner while running high mileage on Paleo? Is eating clean and incorporating lifting enough?

Thanks.

Edit - A bit of extra info on what I eat:

6am - 3 soft-boiled eggs, poached vegetables
2pm - 2 grilled chicken breasts, baked broccoli/cauliflower/brussels
6.30/7pm - sweet potato, poached vegetables, grilled salmon/steak
9pm - full fat yogurt, berries/apple, chestnuts, dark chocolate if hungry

That's on a typical weekday. If it's a weekend I tend to eat more often because my schedule allows for it.

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on April 15, 2013
at 01:34 AM

I agree with the last part of this...when I did cross-country, I actually gained some fat because I felt ravenous all the time from the running, causing me to eat way more calories than I was actually burning. Of course I was not paleo back then, so I ate a lot of crap like mac and cheese and ice cream, not nearly enough meats and protein for fullness. My hunger signals were all crazy

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 14, 2013
at 06:19 PM

She's a 15 year old girl! 115 might be an ok weight for her now- but if she stays at that weight for her entire life, that isn't healthy. When a woman's body goes through puberty, she should gain a bit of weight- the body should start looking like a woman's, not a girl's. Even tall and skinny women like me have gained some weight since being a teenager and look more womanly.

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4 Answers

1
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 14, 2013
at 12:37 PM

It sounds to me like you are really wanting to build more muscle. The best way to do this is going to be to have a focused lifting program with specific goals. There are a couple of options out there.

A lot of people on here do crossfit. You probably don't want to add that to your routine, but there are a lot of crossfit workouts online, if you have the know how and a gym to use. There are even lists of workouts you can do at home that are pretty effective; look up "travel WODs."

There is a lifting program called the Wendler 5/3/1 which is great for building strength.

I am sure you could search on here and find a lot more (I see them pop up occasionally).

You may also want to look at the Crossfit Endurance site. It is focused on running sprints to improve your long distance timing (basically working on your pacing). Depending on your body type, more distance may send the message to your body to store fat, esp if it's triggering you to eat more. (There is some controversy about this idea ; you can read more here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/did-humans-evolve-to-be-long-distance-runners).

Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on April 15, 2013
at 01:34 AM

I agree with the last part of this...when I did cross-country, I actually gained some fat because I felt ravenous all the time from the running, causing me to eat way more calories than I was actually burning. Of course I was not paleo back then, so I ate a lot of crap like mac and cheese and ice cream, not nearly enough meats and protein for fullness. My hunger signals were all crazy

0
4610451431ec7155c87a5698be682a95

(1122)

on April 14, 2013
at 12:35 PM

I just heard a podcast by PaleoMagazine that had some major ultra runners and triathletes on it. One of the things that was stated was that it is hard to b your lightest while putting in so many miles. High mileage - the athelete stated - actually slows down ones metabolism. Eat as clean as you can, incorporate interval training (as I'm sure you do), and thnk about lowering you mileage.

I'm running about 30-40 miles per week, but I'm preparing for a marathon. Why so many miles for a 5k's.

I think fewer miles, more intervals and some occasional heavy lifting will help with getting to your goals.

0
C5d5cfab77a26fa17a56f2c62b99b879

on April 14, 2013
at 12:29 PM

Hi--I see a few things you might do although I agree with englishrose that you're already in good shape. (I would guess that your BF is lower than you think if you're 5'5", 115 pounds and consistently turning in sub-42 minute 5K times.)

If you want some more muscle, it may help to re-assess your diet and your exercise plan.

100 grams of protein daily should probably be your goal. Maybe you are getting it already if your salmon and steaks are big enough servings. Also, it's hard to tell from your post if you're eating enough healthy fat. From your post, it seems that yogurt is only dietary fat source apart from the fish and steak unless you're adding fat (olive oil, butter, lard) to your vegetables. I'm guessing you're not. Fruit, nuts and dairy make it harder to lean out as well according to most of what we see around here.

Maybe take a look at your workouts too. It's summer soon and you can experiment a little. Try to lift 3x/week instead of twice and work upper body AND lower body in the same workout. 5X5 is a perfect format for what you're trying to do and you should buzz through it in 45 minutes for maximum benefit. That means squats or deadlifts, pull ups or chins, bench press and shoulder press. Your thighs, belly and arms will respond to this workout without isolation sets. Trust me on this one so don't extend the 45-minute period to allow for crunches, triceps extensions and biceps curls.

In my opinion, you're also running WAY too much for the goal you're seeking. Even at sixteen, it's very hard to build muscle and run 50 miles each week. The body just won't buy it. Maybe run three times a week (I know, I know) and make one of those workouts an intense sprint session. If your experience is like mine, your 5K and 10K times will actually improve. (I didn't believe it either until it happened.)

And...make sure you sleep enough so your muscles can maximize growth.

Best of luck.

-1
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on April 14, 2013
at 11:39 AM

115 pounds age 16 5 foot 5. That is just about as good at it gets. You do not want to be too much lighter (and you say you do not want to be) and if you are doing all that exercise I bet your body shape looks great. If you can keep at 115 pounds for life and keep up our exercise you will be fit, happy, healthy and attractive. Your foods sound very similar to mine - 3 eggs for breakfast etc (I am your height but old enough to be your mother).

A0c6d1e41fc0441b593a05050aefada7

(342)

on April 14, 2013
at 06:19 PM

She's a 15 year old girl! 115 might be an ok weight for her now- but if she stays at that weight for her entire life, that isn't healthy. When a woman's body goes through puberty, she should gain a bit of weight- the body should start looking like a woman's, not a girl's. Even tall and skinny women like me have gained some weight since being a teenager and look more womanly.

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