People tend to jump to quick conclusions; there is no denying about that. One of the prime examples of such behavior would be how both involved parties look upon the question of combining running with strength training. To be honest, they do seem as two diametrically opposed activities that can only take away something from each other, at the first glance. But only at the first glance. If you take another look you will get much clearer picture of the complex relationship lifting and running can and should have.
Fears and Misconceptions
A common fear behind combined strength and running regimen lies in the fact that human body can take only so much pressure. No matter what your priorities may be, you simply cannot pull off both of these activities on the top level. Bodybuilders consider lifting nothing else than improving the intensity of the stimulus your muscles receive. Exhaustion that happens as a natural result of long runs reduces this intensity.
Passionate runners, on the other side, see running as a self-sustainable activity without ever thinking that strength training can enrich their experience, without diminishing results.
How Strength Training Can Enhance Running
While previous statements hold some truth, taking them for granted would mean ignoring of all the benefits mixing these activities can bring, especially to runners. First and foremost, strength training covers various groups of muscles, including legs, and strengthening the legs leads to better performance. Furthermore, lifting helps you to correct muscle imbalances, strengthen the core muscles
, and augment all the blank spaces running cannot cover. So, the real question is not whether you should add strength training to your running regimen, but how you should do that. Let us ask the science for the help.
How Strength and Speed Training Interact
In a recent research conducted in Australia
, fifteen runners of different abilities participated in different strength training sessions on three occasions. Six hours after each of those sessions, participants did a 20 minute treadmill test (10 minutes running at 70% of threshold pace, 10 minutes at 90% of threshold pace). The final result was that after each of the high-intensity strength sessions, participants ability to sustain fast running was decreased for at least six hours.
Solution to a Problem
With the things as they are, we can find several ways out of this unpleasant scenario:
- First opinion is shared by the lead researcher of the mentioned study, Kenji Doma, Ph. D., of James Cook University. According to him, hard running workout should not be scheduled later in the day of the weight session. Runners need at least 24 hours of rest in order to recover, so interchanging running and lifting on daily basis seems like a good solution. Such schedule is also best suited for all the people starting to run from scratch. In this case, running schedule should serve as a basis, while the strength training and the proper nutrition should serve as the necessary addition.
- The second option is to combine both types of exercise in the same day. Because strength training has stronger impact on running than vice-versa, running should be dealt with in the morning. Lifting should be left for the evening. Now, such pace may prove to be very challenging and compromise running results, but only temporarily. Running at low intensities should help your body adapt to this new situation easier.
- Third option would be to completely abandon the long runs and integrate your running sessions with strength-building routine. Although combined training can be extremely exhausting, Creatine is known for enabling you to train faster, harder, and more often, so it should be efficient in helping you to bridge the transition period. If the running is your priority, you should put running at the beginning of the session, especially if the legs are strength-trained later.
As we can see, although they look nothing alike, strength training and running can work together. As a matter of fact, they can complement each other rather well. Yes, some sacrifices have to be made, and if you want to continue running at the top level you will have to prolong the resting period, but once the benefits of the strength training start to kick-in, reward will be more than satisfying.