Anabolic Running: How To Run Without Destroying Your Testosterone
“Anabolic Running“. Two words that have never fit in the same category together. Until now. If you haven’t heard, long distance running has proven itself as the wrecking ball of testosterone in male endurance athletes.
Running is stripping men of the #1 hormone essential for muscle building, muscle retention, bone strength, overall health and athletic performance. As you also know, it’s the only hormone that will keep you active in the bed room too. Without it, you can kiss your sex life goodbye.
So an honest question is… why are men taking unnecessary shots at their T-levels when we are already in a testosterone “recession”? After all, testosterone begins to drop every year starting at the young age of 30 years old.
Here’s the shocking fact. 30 years old is when the body naturally starts declining in the production of this masculine hormone. This doesn’t include the decline caused by outside sources such as toxins in our food, certain medications, and the focus of this article… running, itself.
Don’t get me wrong. Running is one of the best cardiovascular workouts you can do to burns calories and improve endurance. It’s essential for obstacle racing unless you want to be sucking wind through the entire course. However, there’s two kinds of running. There’s catabolic running (increases cortisol and decreases testosterone) and then there’s Anabolic Running, which I’ll break down a bit more in just a second.
So if you think this article is going to tell you to stop running then don’t worry… that’s not necessary. I’m not here to steal your “runner’s high”. In fact, I’m going to encourage you to keep running because it’s essential to your obstacle course racing. There’s just a certain way to run that will make you an anabolic machine instead of de-masculinizing yourself and interrupting your sex life and personal health for the sake of a race.
Recently, the world’s fastest marathon runner, Ryan Hall retired at the age of 33. After setting an American record and competing in two Olympic games from 2007 – 2011, Hall was nearly forced into retirement due to injuries and chronic fatigue. The cause? Chronically low testosterone.
Hall had some of the best endurance coaches in the world. And even with elite level programing on his side he was still unable to avoid the side-effects of low T from endurance training. You may have noticed these effects already during your obstacle race training.
If you have any of the following symptoms then you may be suffering from low testosterone (also known as hypogonadism):
- Low Sex Drive
- Fatigue & Lack of Energy
- Hair Loss
- Loss of Muscle Mass
- Increase in Body Fat
- Low Bone Density
- Mood Changes
- Re-occuring Injury
Take a look at the image above. Which runner do you think is in an anabolic state and which runner is in a catabolic state? Taking from our list above, the loss of muscle mass, “skinny-fat” appearance, and low bone density are a few factors that show our guy on the left has low testosterone.
I will say, this is an extreme comparison. As an obstacle course racer your goal more than likely isn’t to run in a marathon setting (unless you are training for an ultra beast) or hit the track running for a 100m dash. So your physique may not look like either one in the two pictures above… however, it doesn’t take training for a marathon to sabotage your testosterone production.
This study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that endurance trained males actually have less testosterone than sedentary males when at rest. Interesting, right? The idea of an untrained male who spends more time on the couch and still produces more of the masculine sex hormone than you do is completely counter-intuitive to what you’ve believed.
I know it was for me. But after my embarrassing experience with low testosterone and running, it all made sense.
Just a year ago I started training for the Spartan Beast, a 12+ mile obstacle course race and true test of physical durability and mental grit. I was just an athletic 25-year old newlywed who wanted to tackle this challenge more than anything. So I took a browse across some of the obstacle race training recommendations online and reached out to some friends for some training advise before putting together my plan of attack.
You could say that I hit the ground running the next day… literally. I found myself running the pavement and the trails for 4-5 days each week, periodizing my running routine to build my cardiovascular endurance and mental stamina.
For the first couple of weeks, I was feeling great. I was even finding a fresh enjoyment for running… something I haven’t felt in a long time.
But as my endurance increased, so did the mileage I was putting into my running on a weekly basis. And that’s when I started to notice a few “changes” that no 25 year-old man should ever experience… especially a newlywed.
And it didn’t even feel like a progression of symptoms. It was more like a time-bomb was strapped to my testosterone and one day it just went off.
Coming from a man who couldn’t be anymore attracted to his wife, I had almost zero sex drive. And when the moment struck for some one on one time in the bedroom I’d consistently “shrink” back to normal with no warning, rhyme or reason. It was so excruciatingly embarrassing that I lost all confidence in my ability to “perform”. I became extremely self-conscious and even feared initiating sex because I didn’t want to put myself through anymore embarrassment…
Not only that but my wife began to feel insecure about herself, asking if I was even attracted to her anymore. As a husband, that question pierces the heart like no other. I was freaked out. I was only 25 and my body was already acting like a 70 year old.
Then the thought’s like…
“If this keeps happening how will I be able to satisfy my wife?”
“Will she leave me?”
“Is my ‘problem’ going to hurt our marriage? It’s all my fault…”
Would creep into my head on a daily basis. So much so that I would lay awake at night, not able to sleep (another symptom of low T).
Remember, at the time I had no idea why these problems were happening. And I don’t want to make this article about my exercise-induced testosterone struggles. But it took me down the road to discover Anabolic Running and because of that, I’m cool with taking a bullet if it means helping others.
To make a long several more weeks short, I decided to research some of the causes of low testosterone. It was easy to eliminate several of the possibilities. After all, I was only 25 years old. But there was one possibility that made perfect sense. Distance running.
After several weeks of feeling like a failure, I finally had a glimmer of hope that this whole “low T” thing may be reversible after all. So I heavily researched ways to train for an endurance event, such as an obstacle course race, triathlon, and even a marathon without shattering my testosterone levels. I did still had this goal of competing in a Spartan Beast.
That’s when I discovered Anabolic Running.
Running, Training, Eating, and Supplementing for anabolism and developing the primal endurance characteristics from our hunter and gatherer ancestors without decreasing the powerful hormone that effects your performance, healing ability, sex life, and overall health.
What does Anabolic Running look like?
Well, other than the short 14 minute body weight resistance circuits that I use to increase lean muscle tissue, functional strength and increase (that’s right, increase) testosterone levels, I also add in short bouts of high intensity interval training that have cut my endurance training in half while still giving me the benefits of a one hour training session.
I haven’t skipped out on the long runs, though. Each week I commit one day to set a new personal record in time or distance with my trail run. Whether it’s covering half of a mile further during or cutting my pace down by 10 seconds, my prime focus is to maximize my one run for the week by outperforming my previous week’s stats.
I also started following these 3 Rules of nutrition for Anabolic insurance:
- Don’t Skip Out On Calories
Men who participated in intense exercise throughout the week and only consumed an 1,800 calorie diet saw a 40%-50% drop in testosterone in only 5 days. Registered Dietitian on the Orlando Magic, Tara Gidus weighs in on this saying, “consuming enough calories prevents the body from slowing testosterone production as a reaction to perceived starvation.” It is recommended that you multiply your current body weight by 10 and 12 for the low and high calorie ranges you should be staying in to maximize testosterone production.
2. Don’t Ditch The Carbs
You can increase your testosterone products just by increasing your carbohydrate intake. And as an endurance athlete, carbohydrates will also play a major role in energy production, recovery, and training productivity. Be sure to consume at least 2x your bodyweight in carbohydrates to meet the minimum requirement for carbs. After a long distance run (like you should be doing just once per week) then you should consume 2.5 – 3x the amount of carbs on that day.
3. Eat Cholesterol
Cholesterol is not making you fat… but not eating cholesterol is doing a number on your testosterone production. Be sure to fill your Anabolic Running meal plan with beef, whole eggs, coconut oil and fatty fish. 5%-10% of your daily calorie intake should come from saturated fats that are high in cholesterol if you want to perform on race day and in the bed room.
Here’s one more quick tip to make you an Anabolic Runner… clock 8 hours of sleep every night. Research performed at the University of Chicago showed that men who slept and average of 8 hours each night compared to 5 hours of sleep increased their testosterone production by 15%. Snooze and increase your performance enhancing male hormone? Sounds like a win-win to me.
So there’s a few tips to get you on track to being an Anabolic Runner. Not only is it going to enhance your sex life, improve your overall health, and speed up recovery time between workouts, but it’s also going to make you a better runner come race day.
Testosterone is a powerful chemical that will effect every area in your life, either good or bad depending on your testosterone levels.
If you’re looking for a natural testosterone boosting solution check out The Man Diet by fitness expert Chad Howes. You’ll jack-up your testosterone production in only days.