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Ask Mario: When Should I Strength Train?

Mario Fraioli explains how to fit strength training sessions into your weekly schedule.

Mario,

I’m having a hard time figuring out how to fit strength training workouts (1-2) into my weekly routine. Usually I do them on my recovery or rest days (so I don’t feel like a total slacker), but is this really the best way to go about it?

Thanks,

Gordon R.

Gordon,

Great question. One of the biggest challenges most runners face is how to fit everything—speed workouts, easy runs, tempo runs, long runs, strength workouts, etc.—into the course of a typical training week. As I’ve written about before, a lot of it comes down to prioritizing and a willingness to be flexible. The first step is identifying your key running workouts and spacing them out accordingly to ensure that you’re allowing for ample recovery time between your hardest sessions. If this means spreading things out over the course of 10-14 days instead of trying to cram it all into seven, so be it. Next, fill in the secondary workouts—such as strength training and cross-training—to complement those key running workouts. Finally, identify your recovery days and fill in with easy runs or complete rest.

My preferred strategy is to augment your key running workout days with a strength training session later in the day. Ideally, you’d do your running workout in the morning or at lunch and knock out the strength training session after work. This isn’t always possible for many people due to scheduling and time constraints, but it allows you to keep the hard days truly hard so that you can really recover and absorb the training on your easy days and rest days. An effective strength training session—done 1-2 times a week—should take you no more than 30-45 minutes and complement, not compromise, your most important running workouts. If doing a strength training workout as your second session of the day just isn’t possible, my next best recommendation is to do it the day after your key running workouts. That way, you’ll have gotten your key running workout out of the way first and should still have at least another day, if not 2-3, to recover until your next hard running session.

All the best,

Mario

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