Running | Strength & Conditioning

Living in Both Worlds: A Strength Athlete’s Journey to the Marathon, Episode 3

Join us as we follow Bar Malik, Director of Performance for a team in the National Basketball Association (NBA), on the journey to his first marathon. Click here for Episode 1 and Episode 2

Episode 3:  “Only you can master your mind, which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability”– David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me

In week 3, 11 weeks until the Oh Boy Marathon, Bar goes off-script. Feeling unusually energized during his planned 8 mile run, he pushes to 13.1 miles at an 8:10 min/mile pace. At the end of it, his body is at a 10 out of 10 of exertion: Bar has found another gear.

He paid the price for deviating from his running program, suffering locked-up calves and a tumultuous gut by the end of his first ever half-marathon. But despite the physical pain, the mental fortitude that drove Bar to reach beyond his limits leaves him with a deep sense of accomplishment: even at the very edge of his abilities, he has more left to give.

Q: You consulted with a nutritionist this week. What did they help you with?

A: My nutrition consultation was through a company called Vejo, which I heard about through my friend Conor Dwyer, gold medalist Olympic swimmer, who is also part of the company. The recommendations were based off personal blood panel results: I’ve never had that done as it relates to my performance goals. The biggest area we focused on based on my results and training program was minimizing overtraining and fatigue. One thing I really struggle with in this arena is taking in enough daily calories to meet the energy demands of this program, so I’m increasing my daily intake by 400 kcal.

Q: Right- if you’re not eating the right amount of quality calories to both fuel your activity and recover from training, this can mean trouble. What strategies did they provide you with to take in more healthy calories?

A: For every training run, the nutritionist recommends the following shake: 16oz water, 1 scoop of UCAN, 1 scoop of MCT oil, and 2 scoops of essential amino acids. This is huge because I can get the necessary energy without adding a ton of volume into my gut, avoiding stomach distress. I’m getting the additional 400 calories per day by adding a little food at lunch and dinner.

Q: You travel frequently, jumping time zones and getting crammed into planes, trains, and automobiles. How do you manage this stress on your body AND stay on-track with your program?

A: I literally have to plan all of it. I take naps every chance I get- on long flights, after brunch, etc. I’m so used to being a strength coach, so it’s crazy, but I’ve had to switch to a mindset of being a professional athlete. Most critically this means finding ways to recover in-between runs as quickly as possible. The team schedule is planned out ahead of time, so in the mornings before shoot around, and in the afternoon after we finish training, I make time for running and regeneration. Simply put, if I don’t plan ahead of time I’m screwed; I’m constantly thinking about the next city we’ll be in and whether or not where I’m staying has a steam room or sauna. I also travel with a sauna wrap so no matter where we are or what time it is, I can always flush out my legs.


Weeks to Oh Boy Marathon: 11

Weekly Training Program:

  • One easy run/ low HR Zone, 6-8 miles
  • One tempo run- intermittent pace increases every 400 meters
  • One long run- 13.1 miles
  • Two strength training sessions- general strength endurance
  • One core strength and corrective exercise training session focused on isometric strengthening of knees and achilles

Biggest obstacle: My left knee gets sore the day after I run more than 5 miles. I’ve been focusing on a lot of foam rolling, ice, and Normatec recovery boots to help decrease the inflammation as quickly as possible. Sitting for long periods on the flight and during the games has been tough because my tendons tighten up, making it difficult to walk around. Embracing that process has been the biggest obstacle this week. When I first started running my knees didn’t bother me, but as I add volume my mechanics show up, and dealing with them head- on has been the biggest challenge thus far.

Tell us how you’re using UCAN for your workouts? Are you using it during the day outside your workouts? I’ve added MCT oil and essential amino acids to the UCAN powder prior to my runs, per the nutritionist, which seems to help out a lot. I eat a UCAN bar early evening prior to dinner to add some calories for total caloric intake.

Scale of 1-10 (1= extremely easy, 10= maximal effort), rate how difficult your program was this week: My body felt like a 10 out of 10 after running 13.1 miles.

What or who inspired your workouts the most this week? I’ve just finished David Goggins book “Can’t Hurt Me” this week. That book has inspired my running!

What strategies do you use to help keep you going when running is really challenging? I just visualize myself finishing the marathon and trying as best as I can to emulate the emotions I’m going to feel when I complete it in under 4 hours. I don’t want to be a just a normal performance coach: I’ve always wanted to be recognized as someone who not only studies the field but also lives in the trenches of pushing my limits through science and evidence. That keeps me motivated, and my mantra has always been: “The Top is a Privilege, Put in the Work.”

You use the pool a lot for recovery sessions. What does a pool recovery workout look like for you?

I like pool workouts with weights and swimming. I do farmer’s carries, squat jumps, and underwater swimming with 50 lb dumbbells. I’m not just swimming, it’s more of a recovery training session without the impact. I visited Laird Hamilton a couple of summers ago, and being at his house has forever changed my approach in the pool pool. My heart rate is a little elevated, but the water against my joints feel good. I usually swim about 500 meters, about 15 minutes, of recovery swim time after the strength training portion in the water.