STRENGTH

And Running

How to incorporate strength training into your regular runs and/or cross-training routines (and more importantly how to make it FUN!)

There’s tons of programmes, routines and plans that you can find and follow online, but if it doesn’t fit in with your life – your family, your job, your commitments – it’s never going to work.

So, you first need to work out what time you have free each week, to train.

EXAMPLE

Your plan could look like this...

Ideally (yes, I have started here again!) your plan would look something like:

  • Monday: recovery run/zone 2 run
  • Tuesday: cross training/tempo/interval run
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: cross-training/ interval or race pace run
  • Friday: rest or zone 2
  • Saturday: cross-training
  • Sunday: Long Run

Looking at this plan, it is clear that it makes quite a few assumptions:

  1. Running is essentially your life!
  2. You don’t relax or watch TV
  3. You have no family or social life
  4. Your main focus is to push push push towards a goal (that has an end date, like a race) such as distance or speed.

There’s nothing wrong with a plan like this. But, if it is highly restrictive and rigid you run the risk that the second you deviate a tiny bit, you’re off plan and therefore “it’s all Fucked” so why bother? Or you get a little behind, which turns into really massively behind!

Ask yourself – what do I want out of this plan?

Is your goal to go further, run for longer or get faster?

Whichever one you pick will determine your intervals/tempo/ race pace and long runs. For example, for distance training each week your long run will need to increase by approx. 10%. If it’s running for longer, then the time is the variable you want to focus on – and this needs to increase by approx. 10% each week.

If you’re time pressed:

Here’s where you can get really creative.

  1. Combine running with strength
    Pick a trail that has benches on it. Run until you reach a bench then do 2 exercises back to back before continuing your run. Example: run, then at the bench do 20 tricep dips and 20 high step ups (squeeze your glutes!) then run to the next bench where you could do bench press-ups and bench squats. This way you can pack quite a lot into one run.
  2. Sandwich Session
    Run a set distance/time (depending on your goal) this could even be your recovery or zone 2 training run. Example; Run 1 mile at a moderate-fast pace. Then do a circuit of strength exercises: 10 reps of Press-ups, Squats, Crunches, Tricep dips, Burpees – rest for 30-60 secs then repeat 1-2 more times for a total of 3 sets. Then repeat your run. This is a good one for getting yourself out for that second run when you are tired – because you ARE going to be tired! It’s a great learning curve and BONUS you will feel elated when you finish this!
  3. Brick Session
    Strength workout followed by a run session. This could be any kind of session such as the circuit above, or if you’re following a three-day or two-day split (see yesterday’s post) one of those followed by your run. You can do it the other way around BUT it’s possible your form might slip from tiredness, so it’s best to do your strength FIRST.

FUN FUN FUN

Maske your training FUN! So you'll stick with it!

How can you make this fun?

Get a running buddy or join a group – running is always more fun in a group and you might feel tempted to ‘skip’ the press-ups, but in a group, you can help each other complete it together. Count for each other, take turns, cheer each other on.

You’re less likely to miss scheduled run when you know someone is waiting for you to turn up.

PLAY!

Get together with friends and have a game of tag

Alternate what you’re doing – your buddy could sprint to a set point and back, while you do strength exercises until they get back. Then you swap.

REWARD YOURSELF

Join a virtual medal challenge – so that every mile clocked up in training goes towards a new bit of bling.

Or why not put £1 in a jar for every run (or cross-training session) that you complete. When you’ve reached your goal, you’ll have a pot of money to treat yourself with some new kit, a massage or another race entry!

However, you decide to tackle this make sure you add strength training to your routine. You will soon see improvements and it will ultimately, make you a stronger, less injury-prone, runner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-series of posts all about strength.