Last episode I gave four reasons for runners to lift. But now what? It’s time to dig into strength training!

Four our warm-up, we’ve got nothing for admin corner. It’s been quiet around here since I’ve figured out how technology works, and to double-check sound at every step!

Onto our long run! As stated in the intro, we are digging into strength training today. I’m not a doctor. I’, not an expert… at anything. I’m just a runner who likes to read, research, and share what I’ve found. Please check with your doctor or do your own due diligence before starting a weight training program. 

Let’s start with some myths. First, you aren’t gonna get super bulky from weight training, unless that’s your goal. It requires a lot of heavy lifting, and diet plays a huge role in it. It can take years, especially for women, to get super bulky. If you plan to do a lot of steroids you may get that faster but I don’t recommend that route for MANY reasons.

You don’t need an arm day, leg day, whatever day. In fact, working multiple muscles two to three times a week is a better way to go. And no, you can’t tone or spot reduce. I know, I know. It sucks we can’t target those bat wings or that stubborn tummy fat. Trust me, if we could, I would be spot reducing the shit outta my stomach! 

There are many, many more myths but those are the ones I hear and see most often. What myths do you hear or read over and over?

So, you want to get started lifting. But do you need to join a gym to start tossing the iron around? Nope!  You can get in a great strength workout just using your own body weight! If you don’t have access to a gym or live in an apartment, body weight can be a great way to get in a workout and get stronger. 

If you want to add a little more to your body weight activities, you can add resistant bands to do some more lifts, such as curls, lat pull downs, and many more. You can also get a pull-up bar for your doorframe but be careful with those! After a while, they can pull away from the doorframe and cause you to fall. That’s what happened to me at least!

I had my pull-up bar for several years and one day I was doing some pull-ups and I could feel the bar pulling out of the metal frame holder. And down I went! Flat on my ass. Of course, I put my arms back to catch myself and most of my weight went into my right arm. Eventually, my shoulder froze up and I had to do physical therapy for a couple of months. 

I have not gotten a replacement and it’s been like two years.

You ready to start adding some weight to your collection? You can get a couple of dumbbells, a kettlebell and a medicine ball to add more resistance and moves. I started with an eight and 10-pound dumbbell, 15-pound kettlebell, and six-pound medicine ball. It was more than enough to get me started. The key is to get something not too light and not too heavy to do a variety of lifts with. Only you will know what weights that will be.

If you have access to a gym, you’ll have pretty much everything you need. And then some. Every gym I’ve belonged to has had a slew of dumbbells, bars, and plates, plus machines. I’ve used a little bit of everything at gyms and it all has its place. Personally, I prefer dumbbells, bars, and plates to machines. But you do you boo.

So now you’ve decided what you want to do, bodyweights, free weights – like dumbbells and bars/plates, or machines. But how will you know what to do?

There are soooooo many options out there these days! You can hire a trainer or coach. They can be at a gym or virtual! Be sure to check their credentials or get recommendations from friends for a reputable one. A trainer or coach should be able to listen to what you want and or need and create a program tailored for you! If you can afford it, it’s a great way to go. 

If you don’t want to go the trainer route, you can find about a million apps, books, or other programs. There are really endless options out there. Endless! You need to look around, try a few out, and get what you enjoy. There are many free apps or apps that have a free and paid versions. Some have a trial period. Why not try them all?

If you are looking for something specific and you like the idea of bodyweight training you can get you are your own gym app. Nike and Adidas Training apps both have bodyweight workouts as well. For heavier lifting, there are apps like Stronglifts that focus on the big five lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, and pull-ups). 

Oh, and there are also things like Les Mills or Peloton. They have a variety of exercises from cardio to strength. 

Many trainers also have programs you can purchase and are usually a PDF download with all the info you need. Personally, I have bought Jessie Fitness programs and enjoy them but they can be a bit challenging and intense. And some are not compatible with running as much as I do.

It all really depends on what you want and need in a program. You need to know how long you want your workouts to be if you can modify them to meet your needs, and how many days you want to lift.

Some people lift five to six days a week, some two to three. But as a runner, how often do you really need to lift each week? From every source I’ve read, two to three weeks is all a runner needs. So a six-day program may be a bit much unless you are going to take two weeks to do one week. I have done everything from two to three days to six days and everything in between. For me, the sweet spot seems to be three days. Two days doesn’t seem to really give me a chance to be consistent and see changes and more than three becomes harder to fit in with all the running. 

I have also done a program that is six days a week and for each week I did a week and a half to two weeks. I still saw results. The program took longer to finish than the standard 12 weeks but it still got results!

Ok, but should you run and lift on the same day or no? Should you run then lift or lift then run?

I usually run in the morning before work and lift after dinner. I do not lift the night before a hard workout, like a track session, or a long run. And if I have to lift before those workouts, I will do an upper body-focused session to keep the legs fresh.

And sometimes, if I’m working from home, I’ll do a strength session at lunch. Since I have an hour it is just enough time to fit in a workout! Gotta get it in when you can, right? 

If you can, two separate sessions are best. Run in the morning, lift later in the day. I know that isn’t always possible. 

So what if you only have a certain amount of time in the morning and need to do both your run and strength training? Which should you do first? I would start with whatever your priority is. If you are training for a race, run then lift. If you want to focus on your strength, do that first. 

What I do is when my coach sends me my running for the week, I put those on my calendar first. Then I look at my planner and determine which two or three days are best for strength training. Running is almost always my priority so that is why it gets top billing. If you are following a training plan for a race, put those runs on your calendar then determine your strength sessions. Easy, peasy.

Lastly, should you train differently in the off-season?

As runners, we usually have race cycles. We train for our A race, run our ass off (or maybe that should be we run our legs off), recover, rinse and repeat. And sometimes we take a little more time off after the recovery period. Or where we live determines which seasons we really want to run outside in. For me, that’s summer when it only gets to 90 degrees overnight. For others, that might be winter when it’s too cold or icy to safely run outside.

Strength training may be perfect for those seasons you don’t want to be outside running! Or maybe when you need a little break from running. Because we’ve all been there. 

This year I’ve decided to take a step back from running and focus on weight/fat loss which means more strength training. I’m still running but I’m not doing any double-digit long runs. I’m also planning to try to PR in the 5k in winter so my focus is different this summer than last when I was training for a marathon.

What you decide to do will be dependent on your future goals. If you want to keep your long-distance mileage up, maybe prioritizing strength training isn’t right for you. If you want to focus on fat or weight loss like me, maybe knock your mileage down a bit and increase strength training. If you can, work with a coach to help get all your shit worked out. If not, do a little internet sleuthing and maybe check with your doctor before making any big changes to your training.

We have covered quite a bit about strength training. Hopefully, you found it helpful. If not, let me know what else you wanna hear because there is so much out there! I had to start and end somewhere. 

I mentioned a couple of apps/programs during the podcast and I’ll leave you with a few books I’ve used over the years. I’ll put links in the show notes for as many as I can. Please note, any Amazon links will be Amazon Associate links and I may receive a commission if you purchase through them.

A few of these aren’t specifically about strength training but are great resources for runners who want to know their body and get better at running. Those are Anatomy for Runners, Roar (female focused), and Running Rewired. Strength books I’ve enjoyed are Quick Strength for Runners, Strong Curves (female-focused), and New Rules of Lifting for Women. There is also one for men but of course, I am not a man so I haven’t checked that one out yet. I’m sure it’s fine.

Book links (amazon associate links):

Anatomy of Running

Running Rewired


Quick Strength for Runners

Strong Curves

New Rules of Lifting for Women

I was thinking about doing podcasts covering each of these books, like a summary and review, if that is of interest. 

And that’s our run! Time for our cool-down.

I finished The Silent Patient. It was a three-star for me, a decent read but no desire to re-read or rave about it. It did take me almost to the end to guess the twist. It probably would have been a four-star if the ending hadn’t felt the need to have a character talk down to the audience to explain. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case it’s a spoiler! 

We recently went to King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We camped in King’s Canyon and saw a bear snag a loaf of bread on our first night. We also had the rangers come through at least twice to warn us about the bears. We also saw deer, marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, robins, and blue jays. Oh, and quail. Lots and lots of wildlife and HUGE trees! We also hiked 4.5 miles to the top of a waterfall. Overall it was a great trip and nice to get away. Almost zero cell service! 12 out of 10, would recommend.

Well, that’s it. Have you read or watched anything good lately? Or maybe had a fun summer vacation? Drop me an email and let me know!

Until next time, may your running, weight training, and coffee be strong!

And of course… the usual end of podcast spiel. Maybe someday I’ll sneak in something fun after the credits to see who listens to the end. 

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Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.