It’s becoming more and more accepted that runners need to do more than just run in order to gain better performances. Strength training, especially the type seen in functional fitness and CrossFit adds many benefits to runners, like muscle strength, joint health, decreased chance of injury, body composition and even endurance.
If you combine strength training and running you will see better results sooner, and you’ll broaden your capabilities which ultimately lead to a healthier, fitter you. One-dimensionally training, like focusing solely on low-intensity running, can lead to muscle and strength imbalances and weaknesses which affect performance.
So how do you combine strength training and running to get great results without detracting from regular running training? You basically have two popular options: you can either do them both on the same day or do them each on alternating days. Initially you might see a slight decrease in running performance, but it is expected as your body adapts to this new training and soon you’ll find your stride and start seeing results.
Initially it might be a good idea to separate your training so that strength and running training feature on different days. This allows you enough time to recover from both, and it allows you to focus on the task at hand for each day. You can then give each training session the right intensity to get the results you want. It will also allow your body to adapt to the new training without the strain of added training on that same day.
If you prefer or get to the point where you want to train both strength and running on the same day then schedule your running first. Strength training, particularly when HIIT, will have more of an impact on your running if done first, than the other way around. Try running in the morning and doing strength training in the evening. Also ease into training which could affect your running, like heavy squat sessions – this will have an impact if you plan to do strength training in the evenings and running in the mornings, for example. Keep your strength training varied (not random), and well planned – this will promote better neurological and hormonal responses than a fixed and repetitive style of strength training.
Also, don’t forget about recovery – it’s important to allow your body time to recover regularly in order to perform better overall. Active recovery can form part of your planned training, allowing you to do low-intensity workouts instead of relaxing on the couch. Read this great feature on active recovery workouts for some great ideas.
Ultimately, if you combine strength training and running, you will see a massive improvement in your running and your overall health and performance.