Strength and Race Training

What’s Included?

  • Tips for incorporating strength during race training
    • Start During your Off Season
    • Determine your Goals
    • Structure your Runs & Lifts
    • Listen to your Body
    • Taper just like Running

Start During your Off Season

It’s okay & beneficial to incorporate strength at ANY point in your running journey, but it’s BEST to start a new strength training plan or focus closer on strength training during the OFF season (when you aren’t actively training for a race). However, if you are starting a new strength training plan while actively training for a race, make sure you follow tip #3 when planning your weekly run + strength schedule!

Determine your Goals

If your focus is on running – then it’s important to remember that you do NOT need an above average emphasis on strength work during this phase of your journey & overdoing it will only lead to fatigue and potential drawbacks for your running. 2-3 full body strength sessions per week is sufficient for runners. You can keep it to 20-60 minutes per session depending upon your needs and experience level with just 2-3 sets of 5-8 exercises for 10-15 reps each.

If you’re new to strength – aim to start with just 5-6 bodyweight exercises for 2 sets of 10 reps each. As you gain experience and strength, you can increase the level of challenge by increasing reps, number of exercises, challenge level of exercises, sets, and reducing the amount of rest.

Structure your Runs & Lifts

Your body needs approximately 48 hours to recover from a strength training session before running at full effort again (maybe even longer if you’re just getting started with strength training & have some additional soreness and recovery needed). For this reason, it’s important to make sure not to schedule strength the day before long runs or harder effort workouts. If possible, strength should be done on days where a rest day is scheduled on the following day or on days when you have a harder workout followed by an easy run.

Here are a few examples…

  • Monday: Easy run + lower body workout
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Easy run
  • Thursday: Speed workout + upper body workout
  • Friday: Easy run
  • Saturday: Long run + core workout
  • Sunday: Rest day
  • Monday: Easy run
  • Tuesday: Speed workout + lower body workout
  • Wednesday: Rest day
  • Thursday: Easy run + upper body
  • Friday: Easy run + core workout
  • Saturday: Rest day
  • Sunday: Long run

As you can see, the strength sessions are either paired with a harder workout followed by an easy day or rest day OR they are paired with an easy run followed by an easy day or rest day. While there are MANY other ways to format your schedule in a way that works best for you – it’s important to consider the duration & intensity of your strength workouts.

Listen to your Body

Many runners just blindly follow what they “think” they should do without pausing to consider how they actually feel. When it comes to incorporating strength, it’s extremely important to be in tune with your body so you know when to increase or reduce the amount or the intensity. If you’re feeling extra fatigue in your legs after a long run & you have a strength session, it might be best to skip it & jump back in at the next scheduled strength day. Doing MORE on extremely tired and fatigued legs could lead to injury & end up being counterproductive to the reason runners do strength in the first place.

Taper just like Running

You should TAPER strength training in the weeks leading up to your race just like you would with running. Reduce to just 1 strength session per week for the 2 weeks before your race & stick with a moderate workout vs. a challenging one.

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach