If you’re someone who bucks the trend by including regular strength exercise in their running plan, you’re bound to miss the odd session every now and then, so when you’re short on time it’s the strength work that understandably gets put to the bottom of the pile. When this happens, what should you do? As I always say, it depends.
How many strength sessions per week do you do?
I lean towards daily exercise for around 20 minutes. It keeps me in the habit and is easier to fit into my days, without leaving me fatigued for runs and still improving upon my strength albeit potentially a little slower than longer workouts.
Daily exercise means that missing a workout isn’t that big of a deal. You’ll only be missing around 14% of one week’s strength training, something that won’t be a big deal in the long term. That said it’s still best to avoid missing it, so whenever something crops up or I’m having a bad day (yep, I struggle with motivation too sometimes) I’ll simply split up the exercises I would have done, adding 1 exercise to each of the next 3 days. This way there’s no detrimental effect on my runs, and I still get my strength work done.
This is what I’ve found to be most useful for myself and the majority of my clients.
Longer sessions means less flexibility
Generally though, runners tend to do a couple of longer strength sessions which is less flexible but has the potential to have faster results. Missing one of these can be tricky as it means a 50% drop in strength work for the week which will have more of an impact. Combine that with the likelihood of more missed sessions due to the bigger blocks of time needed, and you could easily end up worse off than if you were to use short sessions. What does this mean? You really need to move your strength session.
If the day after your new proposed workout is one of your key running sessions, I’d advise moving the workout to a different day to preserve the quality of your run. If you can’t fit it in later, can you move your runs around without sacrificing the optimal order, to allow you to still get all your strength work done?
Be quick to identify patterns
If you keep finding that a particular day of strength work is an issue, look to re-jig your standard weekly plan a bit. Whilst people usually polarise their strength training to daily or 2-3 times per week, you don’t have to necessarily. It’s possible to do a weekly heavy session, ideal for deadlifting and squatting heavy loads, have a day or two of rest, then do 3-4 days of lighter strength work, potentially focusing on smaller muscle groups, balance and core strength, then another rest day before starting the next week again.
You then get the best of both worlds, and the chances are you’ll rarely have to miss a session as it’s so easy to swap these around without compromising.
Try to avoid missing your strength training if you can since it’s such an important part of training for so many reasons. That said, you’re a runner first, so prioritise running sessions when other options aren’t available to you.
Written by Kyle Brooks, Running Coach based in Norwich, Norfolk