UCAN Stories

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

Episode 1: “Misogi”

Bar Malik is a very busy man.

As a Director of Performance for a team in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Bar is responsible for developing and advancing each player through a combination of sports science, strength and conditioning, and nutrition.  It’s a non-stop job, interspersed year-round with professional development endeavors and ongoing education pursuits in order to remain at the top of his game. Add to that his own rigorous 5-day-a-week strength training program, and it’s hard to believe Bar has time for anything else but sleep.

But Bar is full of surprises: he’s running his first marathon, and he’s doing it in 13 weeks. As an athlete who’s already familiar with UCAN for his strength workouts, Bar will now be putting it to the test for endurance training.

Bar and team UCAN invite you along his journey to the unfamiliar world of endurance and experience the physical and mental transformations on his road to the marathon.

“How much more urgency and discipline do I have in this cup that can spill into every area of
my life? That’s what I’m interested in through this experience primarily. The training and
working out is secondary for me.”- Bar, on what fuels his marathon fire.


Q:  What is your athletic background?

A: I’ve always been active in sports and played basketball, football, and baseball since I was 8 years old.  While I was recruited by small colleges for basketball, I decided to not play for a school and instead focused on my studies.  In college I began training seriously with weights and I fell in love with how my body responded to training with weights properly.

Q: What did you study in college?

A: I majored in Exercise Science in undergrad and Human Movement Science in graduate school.

Q: Until you decided to sign up for this marathon, what did your workouts typically look like?

A: My training consisted of 5 days per week integrating strength, stabilization, and power themes throughout the week. All total body push/pull regimes designed to optimize joint stability, core endurance, body pliability, and total body strength. I didn’t do much cardiovascular training except for sprint work on higher intensity days twice per week. My body is Type 2, fast twitch so I succeed at shorter durations, quick bursts, and sprinting. Long distance running or longer bouts of aerobic work has never been a part of any program I have ever done.

Q: What inspired you to sign up for a marathon?

A: I signed up for a leadership course coached by Jesse Itzler, and my first assignment was to choose a Misogi experience.  As described by the leadership course: “Misogi (ancient Japanese ritual)- do something so hard this year that it will change your entire year. Things that require you to change your life and prepare for all of the monumental changes that will happen for you in 2019.”  So, I knew a marathon was it for me. But I also knew that I needed to choose a date within the next 90 days to create a sense of urgency and discipline in my life.

Q: What are you most excited about?

A: I’m most excited about the process of running that I’ll have to do to build up my cardiovascular endurance to successfully run a marathon. I still have a job and everything else in my life that requires my full attention and best self, so having to organize my life around a specific goal physically will be challenging but I’m excited about it. I also look forward to the people and connections I’ll make through this commitment because the running world is HUGE!


Weeks to Oh Boy Marathon: 13

Weekly training program:

  • 10K run assessment, completed in a little over 51 minutes
  • Two smaller runs of 3 miles
  • Four weight lifting sessions
  • Two swim recovery sessions
  • Foam rolling before and after all workouts

Biggest obstacle: Setting my pace for my runs. I haven’t decided on a time for the marathon, so having to gauge my pace has been challenging.  Currently I’m running a 7:45 mile, and I need to figure out how my body will respond to that pace over time as I increase mileage.

Pre and Post fueling:  Pre-run I had UCAN and post I had mineral water and a plant-based protein shake. These are staples.

Scale of 1-10 (1= extremely easy, 10= maximal effort), rate how difficult your program was: 7.  The running made me sore, but I’m only going to adapt to the stress so I’m not too concerned.

Biggest inspiration for workouts: Putting this on social media and letting my friends publicly see that I am going to do it. There’s a level of accountability and pressure to do it if you let other people know about it.

A quote that helps you dig deep: “The road to greatness is long and boring. It requires a lot of discipline and self-sacrificing that most people aren’t willing to do”- a quote from a speech by Ray Lewis.  It reminds me of running this marathon, and I replay that quote in my head when I wake up earlier and do the extra reps in the gym.

Strength training tip that also applies to endurance: Regardless of the world you live in, preparation through nutrition is going to make or break your training. Hydration is key, try as much as possible to eat whole foods, consume protein post-training, lift weights to train the body to run (not run to prepare for the race), get 7-8 hours of sleep, use a foam roller morning and night.