Balancing running and strength training

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Following my "Ask me anything" post, I received a great question that essentially boils down to balance of training.

To summarize the questioner’s dilemma, she was increasing her running training over the summer. During that time, she was reducing her strength training. She wanted to know if this was a problem. I’d like to explore that topic a bit here.

As I’ve found myself stating often recently, we can only handle so much stress in our lives. Whether it’s running, strength training, or even work or family matters, our bodies and minds can only take so much. Go beyond what you can take and bad things begin happening.

Obviously, one of the goals of training is to increase our capacity to handle stress. However, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow, gradual process. In the more short term, if you are already at or near your maximal ability to handle stress and you add more in one area, you’re going to have to reduce it in another area.

When it comes to running and physical training, this often means we need to find the right balance in our training. Whether we’re balancing workouts, easy runs, and long runs or we’re balance our running with other types of training such as strength training.

This is why many runners will reduce their training volume in the late stages of a training plan as intensity increases. More intensity is more stress, one of the places we can reduce stress in order to remain in balance is the number of miles we’re running.

Likewise, if you’re increasing your running load, you can reduce your physical training load in other areas. This may mean less strength training or, if you cross train, reducing the amount or intensity of your cross training.

So yes, it is perfectly fine if you’re increasing your running to reduce your strength training. In fact, it’s the smart thing to do. I would prefer that you keep at least a base routine in so you maintain your strength but you don’t always have to do the same amount. I’d even argue that you shouldn’t.

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