How Often Should I Strength Train?

Incorporating strength training into your routine is important for a runner. However, it’s important to ensure muscle soreness doesn’t impact your ability to run. After all, strength training should enhance your running, not sabotage it.

Some amount of muscle soreness is to be expected when beginning a new workout routine, but being so sore you cannot run is definitely overdoing it. Gradual, progressive overload is the way to go.

To avoid this, runners should strength train twice a week. The best way to do this is to strength train on the same day as a run, even on a hard training run day. This may seem counter-intuitive, but by running and strength training on the same day you leave yourself a recovery day or an easy run day the day after. If you alternate running and strength training – running hard one day, lifting weights the next day – there is no recovery time.

The other benefit of running and strength training on the same day is that doubling up encourages you to use a lighter weight and reduce the number of sets and repetitions because your legs are already fatigued from a run.

If the strength routine you’re trying leaves you trashed, adapt it so it can work better for you. Start with fewer exercises. Squats and lunges are great all purpose lower body exercises, so begin with those. Lighten the weight and reduce the number of sets and repetitions you did in the last workout.

You can even use your own body weight first, no dumbbells, and see how that feels. Focus on using correct form and going through the complete range of motion intended for these exercises rather than the amount of weight used. Add weight gradually and/or increase the number of repetitions over time.

Always allow yourself adaptation time for these new exercises before increasing the intensity with weight or reps, just as you would when increasing mileage. Adaptation varies among individuals, but expect it to take three to six weeks. It may take longer, depending upon how many kilometres a week you are running.

When you feel like you have adapted to the exercises, add in more. Also keep track of the amount of weight and the number of sets and repetitions you do. Increase the repetitions or the weight, but not both at the same time.

Keep in mind that running is your priority at this time, not weight training, and proceed cautiously.


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