Are you looking to increase your running speed and avoid getting injured?
You might want to introduce strength training to your routine.
Adding a few days of light weight training to your weekly movement schedule can help you run faster and increase your endurance, as well as improve your running form and core strength to avoid injury.
But how should you incorporate strength based days into your running routine without getting too sore or tired?
Read on below for my 3 tips on adding weight lifting into your running routine.
1. Decide on your goals.
Whether you are hoping to rehab or avoid an injury, or increase your running speed, it is important to get really granular with what you want to achieve before adding weight training into your routine.
For example, my current goals are to increase my running distance per month. I want to complete a run each month that is ~3kms more than the month before. Because adding distance is at the forefront of my goals, I want to be careful not to get too sore or fatigued in the days before my planned long runs. This means that I plan ahead for my heavier weight training days, and when I may want to keep my workouts in the gym lighter. It is important to note that I have been weight training for years and have a good base of muscle already.
As an alternative, you may want to add strength training into your weekly routine to avoid becoming injured. In this case, it would be important to ask yourself which area of your body you are most concerned about. Often, runner’s have weak core and glute muscles and so you may want to focus on strengthening those areas.
You can see a few example exercises to strengthen these areas before heading out to run here.
Questions to determine your goals:
- Is it most important to me to focus on distance, time, or consistency in my running routine?
- Have I incorporated strength training into my routine before?
- Am I concerned that I may get injured from my running?
2. Plan your recovery.
It is important to note that lifting weights that are heavy enough to strain your muscles will most likely cause those muscles to be sore post-workout. If you have planned a run 1-3 days after a strength training session, you may be compromising your performance. Because of the soreness and muscle fatigue that results from strength training, you will likely want to plan your weekly movement schedule in advance, and factor in recovery time.
You may also want to incorporate practices that help with recovery of fatigued muscles. Of course these practices can be anything that helps you to personally feel energized. Some that I gravitate toward are:
- Getting 8 hours of sleep per night (and going to bed/waking up at the same time each day.
- Adding stretching and foam rolling daily; even better if you have the resources to pay for a massage!
- Taking an epsom salt bath to replenish magnesium stores and feel less sore.
- Alternating between cold and hot water when in the shower to calm my nervous system.
3. Reach out for help.
There will always be those who are more knowledgable then you are in certain areas, and if you are able, it can be really beneficial to hire a coach or trainer to fill in the gaps.
Outsourcing to an educated individual who can create a running and weight training schedule for you will relieve pressure and allow you to focus on performing and hitting your goals. A trained professional can also recommend any exercises or supplements to your routine that are specific to your needs.
There are a ton of options for running coaching and motivation. Below are a few that I would suggest looking into, and some examples that exist in the Vancouver area and online.
- Couch to 5km programs like this one by Marathon Handbook,
- Running groups and clinics like Ultrafit Bootcamp in Vancouver
- Personal trainers, who can be those at commercial gyms like Fitness World or private studios like Soul Fitness
If your running goals include specific milestones, outsourcing for help and guidance can make a huge positive difference.
To run or to lift?
At the end of the day, moving your body is a good thing. The method of movement does’t matter as much as being consistent with the routine that works best for you. But if you do choose to add weight training (remembering that this includes bodyweight exercises) to your running routine, hopefully the tips above have provided more clarity on how to do so.