A couple of months ago I decided to add some strength training to my running routine. Originally I intended to write this conclusion post after 30 days. When I reached the third week, however, I knew this was something that needed a bit more time. Strength training seems to be something that takes a little while before you start seeing any sort of results (other than being sore!) It took me most of the first month just to get the routines and forms down. But! After two months, I’m happy to say I can come back with actual measurable results and my opinion on if you should be adding strength training to your running.
Adding Strength Training to your Running, Yes or No?
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I think that most of us can agree that exercise of any sort is good for you and there is a great deal of science behind the benefits of strength training – most of which I outlined in my previous post at the start of this challenge! Despite knowing all of this and even suggesting it in the past it was still an area I tended to neglect. I wanted to give strength training a try but I kept getting held up by all the terminology, forms, and complexity of the plans I looked at. And, I admit, there is a part of me that has always shied away from anything related to gyms and weights. It wasn’t until I actually hurt myself that I gave some serious thought to strength training.
I know I’m not alone in this, in fact, a lot of the women I know and speak with tend to feel the same. The idea of using weights or going to a gym if you don’t have access to them at the house can be unnerving for those of us who struggle with self-confidence from time to time. Since starting Keto and running I have made great steps in this arena but I’m still not ready to conquer a gym. And that’s okay! It turns out there are quite a few strength training exercises you can do from home with fairly minimal equipment!
Since I am too nervous to use the weight bench my husband has in the house, I used dumbbells for all of my exercises. They worked great! I felt safer, they weren’t very expensive and I could hide in our back workout room/office while I tried to figure everything out!
My Running and Strength Training Routine
Once I fully committed to trying out strength training – which I couldn’t back out of after making that challenge post (thanks blog!) This is the routine that I settled into. Keep in mind I also did foot stretches and exercises every single day during this period and some yoga in between exercise sets.
- Sunday – Rest Day
- Mondays – Long Run
- Tuesdays – Leg Day
- Wednesday – Recovery/ 2-3 miles at Current Pace
- Thursdays – Upper body
- Friday – Speed Interval Runs
- Saturday – Core Workout
I started off with really low weight but tried to challenge myself at the same time. In fact, I ended up overdoing it the first week and nearly ditching this entire idea. My first recovery run after a leg day was a horrific experience. In fact, all my runs the first week took a terrible nose dive. Not only were my muscles sore but my endurance was shot. I was struggling with distances I typically flew through with ease.
Despite all my research I started to question if adding strength training to your running was really a wise decision. My husband urged me to give it a bit more time, however, and grudgingly (I was really sore!) I agreed. I did back off a little bit the second week by lowering the repetitions I did.
Things Are Getting Better
Sometime between week two and three, I found myself recovering from my strength training a bit faster. I wasn’t terribly sore the next do and I cautiously began to increase the weight and repetitions for some of my exercises. I still didn’t notice much of a difference with my running. But, since I was really just starting to settle into the routine of it all I decided to give this experiment another month.
The Second Month
This is when I finally started to see some results! Although I continued to slowly increase my weights and repetitions I was never as sore as I was that first week. I ran the fastest 5k I have ever run during a pace run (and then broke time that 2 weeks later). I ran the farthest I have ever run before (7 miles) and then broke that record with each successive long run over the month.
Since I use a running app called Map My Run every time I hit the roads it is easy to look back and visibly see the improvements. After months of feeling stagnated and seeing no progress in my running, it was a huge boost to my motivation and self-confidence.
Adding Strength Training to Your Running- Yes Or No?
I’m going to have to say yes! Despite my misgivings and an obvious downturn early on in this experiment, the end results are pretty obvious. I have gotten faster and I am running farther than ever before. Even more important than that? I have managed to do so without injury or suffering from a repeat of my peroneal tendonitis.
Adding strength training to your running seems to be worth it, even if the benefits take a bit of time to manifest themselves. Do I love weight training? Not really, I would still prefer to go out and run 5 miles instead of lift weights. But! Since it seems to be improving my running then I will stick with it! I still don’t feel any stronger but I do feel more accomplished on days I don’t run. Despite the slow increases to the weights I’m lifting they are still relatively low. My upper body strength is not anything to brag about – the side quest to see if I can do a pull-up? Not happening. At least not yet!
I also seemed to have gained two pounds, making my typical fluctuation of 112-115 more like 114-117, but all my clothes still fit the same and apart of me is kind of proud because I believe that might be muscle weight! With the numbers from my running app on my side, I think I”m going to call this experiment a success and keep at it!