January Goals: Balancing Strength Training & Running?

It’s my age old battle. How can I balance strength training and running? I seriously haven’t figured it out yet, and cannot seem to accept that one will always trump the other because I love them both! I am trying my hardest to start out 2018 injury-free and keep it that way, which means attempting to strike the right balance of running, keeping my muscles strong, and improving my mobility, stretching, and foam rolling. I just love too many fitness activities! I set out in January with a few goals to keep me motivated in the gym, particularly because we’re sitting at a cool -36C as I write this and working out is the hardest when your lungs burn the moment you step outside.

  • Early mornings at the gym. One thing that deters my strength training in the gym is crowds. My gym gets insanely busy after work and I just cannot stand having to plan my workout around what other people are doing and racing around as equipment frees up. Either I can be continuously frustrated that 12,734 people won’t rearrange their workout schedules to give me a solid empty gym at 6pm, or I can adjust my schedule and go in the morning before work. I am committed to doing strength three to four times a week before work!
  • Keep it short and sweet. Yep, four times is a lot of strength training, but what I’ve found is that if I do a couple of 60 or 75 minute strength sessions a week, I do ALL THE EXERCISES, push myself until I cannot move my body, and then complain that it hurts to run. If I give myself 30 (to a maximum of 40) minutes, I get in, pick about 6-8 exercises that I can superset and really focus on, and get out. I get a killer strength session and am not crazy sore. I have been alternating upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week… though I somehow manage to get squats into all of my workouts.
  • Shorten the run, not the cool down. If I am limited on time (or just really hungry and want to make dinner as soon as possible), I tend to skip my cool down and stretching so I can maximize my running time. Stupid, I know. If I am going in with a time set, I take at least 10 minutes off of that to cool down, stretch and roll, even if it means one less mile in my training log.

One of my awesome colleague-turned-friends is also killing the early morning gym workouts as a goal so accountability to each other has helped me so much! If I tell someone I will be at the gym at 5:00am, I will be at the gym at 5:00am. It makes the workouts go by so much faster and you can swap exercises and learn new things to do in the gym. The first time we did a leg day together we both couldn’t walk the next day because we kept trying to one-up each other with exercises until we were doing pyramid sets of goblet squats and heavy single-leg deadlifts AS A SUPERSET. My latest favourite is sled pushes. I hate them, but I love them. They make me want to vomit, but I’m like, “Yeah, I did that.”

Another leg exercise that I stole from a Whitney Simmons YouTube video is bench step-overs. Essentially you put one foot on the bench and pivot the other foot up and over the bench back and forth. KILLER. There is a video of just this move HERE if you want to try it.

I am slowly but surely easing my way back into running, keeping it short and easy to start. I drafted an almost-half marathon schedule to get me to my first race, the Nimble Bear 25K trail race in West Kelowna in April. It’s definitely not a ‘race race’ for me, just something to kick off trail season, so it’s about tackling some hills (as soon as I can breath outside let alone run outside) and getting my legs back into it for spring and summer. I am super stoked about the plans that I have to come this year and the key will be building a strong base, slowly, and with diligent work in mobility, rolling, and stretching.

One last thing! I TRIED A POUND CLASS! I made the trip to Red Deer on Sunday to participate in Becky’s pop up Pound class! I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect but it was so much fun and SUCH a good workout. I didn’t really expect for it to be that much strength work but when you are focusing so hard on following the rhythm with your drumsticks, you forget the fact that you’ve been in a squat for about 20 minutes. You can tell this is totally Becky’s jam. She killed it as an instructor and I loved her badass rocker attitude the whole time. Her playlist was absolute perfection and I’m so glad I went!

When it comes to balancing running and strength there is a bit of compromise I’ve learned. I can’t lift super heavy. I can’t have antagonistic goals, because I’ll either get frustrated in not achieving either one the best I could or I’ll get injured. I CAN compliment running with mobility work and light strength training and still satisfy my need to get a good leg and butt workout with quick sessions of weights. Alarm set for 4:40am… here we go!

What is the latest new-to-you workout you’ve tried?

Have you changed your workouts at all in 2018?

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