When to schedule strength training in a running program

Last week I had a quick look at the benefits to runners of including strength training in their program. This week we’ll look at when to schedule strength training in a running program. Where should you fit it in so that you get the benefit of having it in there but not have an adverse effect on your main activity, that is to say running?


What to consider

When we are positioning the weight training sessions in the week we wan to place them in such a way that they have the least amount of effect on the the quality work of the week, so they aren’t going to be the day before a hard interval or tempo session, nor do we really want them to be placed after these sessions where possible. This study showed that running at maximal effort was impaired for 24 hours after a hard strength training session for the lower body and for 6 hours after just upper body work but given that you will have limited time to devote to strength work through the week it is much more beneficial to use full body sessions in the gym to help ensure that you get everything covered. So given that there is still an effect after 24 hours it would be wise to allow around 48 hrs before doing your tempo or interval type sessions.

Placing them after tempo/interval sessions is less of a consideration as the performance in the gym in secondary to the running and if this is the only place to conveniently place them then so be it. Plus if this is where the session is always going to be progress will still be measurable as you will always be a little fatigued in the session. For this reason it might be a good idea to place one of the sessions the following day after depending on when you are running and how many hard sessions you have in a week.

How it might look

A distance runner might have a schedule along the lines of these two options.

  1.  short easy run
  2. weight training
  3.  rest
  4.  hard run/intervals
  5. Rest
  6. weight training
  7. Long, slow distance run


  •  easy run
  •  (am) short easy run (pm) weight training
  •  rest
  •  hard run/intervals
  •  Rest
  •  (am) short easy run (pm) weight training
  • Long, slow distance run

Whilst a middle distance runner may look  more like this;

  • hard run
  •  weight training
  •  easy run
  •  off
  •  hard run
  • weight training
  •  easy long run

Whilst a sprinter may look more like

  •   run
  •  weight training
  •  rest
  •  run
  •  weight training
  •  rest
  •  run

In all the above examples the placing of the sessions allows for maximal recovery from hard sessions be they in the gym or on the road/track. One other aspect that is often abused at best or not utilised at all is that of plyometric drills. Box jumps for time etc aren’t anyone’s friend and are a sure fire way to a ruptured achilles but performed correctly and placed appropriately they can be a runners way of tapping into another avenue for improving performance.

Combining elements

You mean I have to find space for another session? I hear you ask. The answer is no you don’t.  You can use them as part of your warm up and especially easy to fit in with your track session. Placed at the end of the warm up and before the session itself  they are a great start to the session. You can utilise the likes of various hoping and bounding drills and, if you are at a track, make use of hurdles to create a variety of progressively more challenging drills. Placing them in the track work allows for a more efficient use of your time.  The beauty of placing them in the track session is that it will  help you prepare for the speed session and get the benefits of plyometrics with out having to set aside a specific time to do them.

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