I get asked often about how I balance running and lifting. I wanted to share with you guys how I do it.
The truth is, I don’t. And I definitely don’t do it well, I don’t always balance it, and I don’t know exactly what the right prescription is yet. With each marathon I’ve been experimenting.
Living an athletic, disciplined lifestyle is not always glamorous. The PR’s, the smiling Instagram photos and the details of workouts can be deceptive. It’s a beautifully brutal and torturous lifestyle. It’s finding your pain threshold over and over again and then again the next day. It’s constant muscle soreness and fatigue on the way up to heavier weights and faster paces. It’s tapping into emotions of feeling on top of the world and complete utter weakness.
With that being said, I wouldn’t change the way I throw myself into training. I love hard workouts, I love two-a-days, eating better, sleeping more. I know this won’t be sustainable through different periods of my life, but for now, getting stronger, faster and fitter is keeping me, above all, happy.
I will try and answer your questions about pairing lifting and running, but feel free to ask anything else in the comments below!
Q: How many days per week do you lift and run?
A: Right now I lift 2-4 days per week, one heavy lower and one upper body lift. The other days are usually supplemental/auxilary or a Crossfit day. I run 6-7 days per week averaging about 55 miles per week.
Q: What does your typical two-a-day look like?
A: I’ve experimented a lot with this, my ideal double workout starts with speed work or a tempo run, the 2nd workout being a heavy lift. It doesn’t always work in my schedule that way, sometimes it’s reversed or on opposite days. I find when I separate my hard running (speed days) and heavy lifting I don’t get an “easy” day inbetween. Ideal Example: Monday/Wednesday/Fri easy running. Tues/Thurs speed & lift.
Q: How do you recover?
A: Eat, Sleep, Repeat. I try my best to eat real food and drink tons of water (about 80-100oz daily). I wear compression socks and full compression tights often since I stand all day at work. I try and get 7-9 hours of sleep. That’s it. No fancy story there. Oh, and sometimes I foam roll… sometimes.
Q: Aren’t you sore all the time?
A: You betcha! All. The. Time. But that’s half the fun right? Waking up each morning with a different muscle group screaming.
Q: Should I train like you?
A: Probably not/maybe/depends on where your fitness level is. It might seem like I just started running a ton of miles and lifting heavy recently or all at once, but it’s been a real slow build over years and years of consistent training and running. And I’m in a constant lifting or running cycle and take down weeks or deload weeks, so I can continue to get stronger without getting hurt or burnt out. If you’re looking to improve your performance, work on being consistent first, and then start sprinkling in intensity.
Q: What would you recommend if I wanted to lift on top of running?
A: I would start with two days of strength training on a base of easy running. After 4-8 weeks deload or pull back on your strength a bit and start adding speed work slowly into your running. Then mix it up and find what days you can do workouts that don’t completely annihilate your legs. Once you’re about 10-14 days out from your race, pull the reins on the strength (lighten the load & lower the volume!) and really allow yourself to have fresh legs on race day.
Just remember it will take time for you to get used to the cumulative fatigue and embrace running on tired quads and calves. If you’re training to race faster, this is the way I do it. Running on tired legs will simulate the end miles of a race. Hansons marathon method said it best, “You’re not running the first 16 miles of a marathon, you’re running the last 16. We’re duplicating that final-miles feeling.”
Q: This seems hard, what if I can’t do it?
A: The most important thing to remember is that all of us runners go through the same emotions. At some point we will have a string of crappy runs or a period of time where every step feels impossible. Keep a journal of how you feel during both strength and cardio sessions and be flexible with yourself. Sometimes your paces may not reflect your effort because of muscle soreness from the strength, and that’s okay! Adjust, experiment, and repeat!
Do you experiment with different training styles or plans for races?
What race is next on your schedule?
03/14/2018 at 9:54 AM
Great post. I still think you’re a superstar for lifting and running that much. Also glad you pointed out that it took years of building up mileage and lifting and fitness-too much too soon = injuries for most people! ❤
03/14/2018 at 4:09 PM
Aww, thanks Lauren, and yes I needed to point out that it was a slow build! I’ve been injured way too much in the past from ramping up too quickly.
03/14/2018 at 11:08 AM
Really love this post. Trying to find balance between running and strength training has been THE hardest thing for me. Thanks for the great advice.
03/14/2018 at 4:08 PM
No problem, it’s a freaking hard balance for sure!
03/14/2018 at 12:00 PM
Really great post here Cori! Thank you.
03/16/2018 at 9:02 AM
I am beyond impressed with your ability to run the mileage/paces while lifting as heavy as you do. I hope that I can continue improving my lifts when I get into my next half marathon training plan this summer. Before I became a runner I had been lifting about what I’m lifting now, and when I started running I backed way off on the weights because it was tough for me to run the paces I wanted with sore legs. I’d like to think I am mentally tougher now and will be able to balance both. We’ll see!
03/17/2018 at 9:41 AM
love it. You are mentally tough! and with the paces, i can honestly say I have to adjust constantly. My easy paces are slower than ever, my speed is never where i want it exactly, but on race day the speed comes out. It’s a little bit of a trade off with the heavy lifting, but I love lifting so I’m okay with the paces not always reflecting my current fitness level.