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When to Use Strength Training

by My Finish Line

An athlete can train strength through the entire training plan. The important part is that it is used – and this is a golden rule – either in very short bouts as a precursor to running (as a ‘fire-up’ session), or is used solely in between running sessions. Doing a heavy leg weights session, especially, before embarking on a taxing run or cycle is playing with fire when it comes to soft tissue injuries. Some coaches advocate using strength training for endurance athletes at the end of running sessions. Sure – the fatigue means you won’t be able to lift as much weight (and therefore develop as much potential strength) but it is safer as far injury prevention.

The Principle

The repairing adaptation process after training speed or strength is similar. Delayed-Onset-Muscle-Soreness (DOMS) usually occurs 24-36 hours post-event and you will recognise this with a stiffening or a “weighted/full” feeling within the muscle itself. It is during this adaptation process where it is important to be careful when overloading your system with running or cycling. However, in time, the DOMS subsides considerably as you get stronger and often strength days and endurance days can follow each other.

How Do I Apply It?

As long hard runs tax the energy (cardiovascular) system, strength taxes the anaerobic and alactic system so needs to be treated with the same respect even though you might not be in a crumpled heap in the shower at the end of a session. If working on a 7-day turnaround, it is a good idea to consider starting with strength at the start of the week, maybe before a rest day, and then committing yourself to 2-3 hard days of endurance or volume training before reverting to strength on day 6. (see below)

Day One: Leg Strength

Day Two: Rest / Mobility or Light Jog

Day Three: Intensity Run

Day Four: Volume Run

Day Five: Light Volume Run

Day Six: Strength

Day Seven: Rest

This gives the optimal chance to recover and adaopt from your training as well as ensuring you are prepared to train at the levels that are appropriate.