Strength Training for Runners: Scheduling Tips for Maximum Benefit
Strength training is pivotal for runners seeking improved performance and enhanced injury prevention. Yet, a common question is, when should runners incorporate strength training during their week?
1. Just get it done:
First and foremost, it's imperative to remember that the best time is whenever you can fit it in. It's more beneficial to complete a strength training session at a non-optimal time than to skip it altogether.
2. Understanding the Interference Effect:
The interference effect refers to the potential diminished gains in muscle strength and/or size observed when strength and endurance training overlap, especially when conducted in the same session or on the same day. In simpler terms, when you mix running and weight lifting, the body may not adapt as effectively to the strength training. However, a recent systematic review found that concurrent aerobic and strength training does not compromise muscle hypertrophy and maximal strength development. However, explosive strength gains may be attenuated. (Schumann 2022)
To mitigate any potential effect, space out your running and weightlifting sessions by 6-8 hours. This could mean a morning run followed by an evening weight session.
3. Order of Training - Running or Weights First?
Given the fatigue that can arise from resistance training, it's advisable to run before hitting the weights, particularly when planning an intensive running session. This ensures that your legs are at their freshest for the run.
4. Weekly Scheduling Recommendations:
There are two main approaches for scheduling strength training during your week:
1) Polarized Approach: Focus intensity on intense days and relaxation on easy days. Incorporate strength training on your hard running days (speedwork, intervals, hill sessions, etc.). Remember, as emphasized earlier, to conduct your weight sessions after your runs to ensure maximum freshness for the intense run.
2) Distributed Approach: Perform strength training on easier running or rest days. This often yields better quality strength training sessions. However, it might compromise the intent of an easy day and possibly leave you fatigued for the next day's running session.
In conclusion, while optimal scheduling can enhance the benefits of strength training for runners, consistency remains key. Tailor these recommendations to your routine and listen to your body's feedback.
Schumann, M., et al. (2022). "Compatibility of Concurrent Aerobic and Strength Training for Skeletal Muscle Size and Function: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Sports Med 52(3): 601-612.