Fitting lifting into an already packed schedule

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Fitting lifting into an already packed schedule

by psycobill » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:15 pm

I'm currently training for a 3 day trail running stage race where the 1st day is 20 miles with 2k-3k elevation gain, 2nd day is 18 miles on flat trails, and 3rd day is 22 miles with 3k+ elevation gain. Over the last few months I've only managed to run 3x a week and have dropped strength training from my schedule due to lack of time. The race is 8 weeks away and my work schedule has settled down allowing me to train more. For the 8 weeks leading up to the race I'm wanting to run 5x a week, In 3 day and 2 day blocks and my weekly mileage peaking around 70 by week 6. here's what my schedule looks like

Sun- 60-90 minutes flat/undulating
Mon- 3-5 hrs hilly
Tues- Rest
Wed- 60-90 minutes hilly
Thurs- 2hrs flat/undulating
Fri- Rest
Sat- 3-4 hrs hilly

My problem is I really feel I need to strength train (lower body & core) but don't know where to put it in the schedule without risking overtraining or just having dead legs on my runs. Any advise, ideas, would be great!

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by ExcitableBoy » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:58 pm

When I am training for ultras I will run up to 85 miles a week with > 15,000 ft elevation gain. I can still fit in 4 - 1 hour weight lifting sessions. For me the key is not to do any leg exercises (i.e. no squats, lunges, etc) as it would make my legs tired. I found running a lot of elevation and alpine climbing and ski mountaineering made my legs plenty strong. Obviously most days I would do two work outs, weights in the morning, running on my lunch breaks at work (8 -13 miles) and back to back long, hilly runs on both days of the weekend. Saturday would be 2-3 times longer than Sunday. A lot of the ultra runner I know say back to back long runs are key.

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by Ed F » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:25 pm

I incorporate lifting into my running routine as winter nears and I'm getting ready to start ski touring again. Granted, you're asking about training for an actual running race, so we're comparing apples and oranges a bit. However, I used to be an Army Master Fitness Trainer, and I moonlighted for years doing personal training, so I do know a bit about this.

First, why tie yourself to a 7-day schedule? Why not try a two-week schedule or a ten-day schedule? Or something else? I use a ten-day schedule because it's a nice round number and it gives more flexibility. Think outside the box.

You're right to be concerned about over training. It's usually the problem when my clients used to hit plateaus. For people who are addicted to exercise (like most people on this site), it's tough to force yourself to rest. Doing leg exercises followed shortly by running will be overall detrimental rather than helpful because you're not allowing your muscles to grow. Remember: you don't get stronger in the gym. That's where you break down and weaken your muscles. You get stronger by resting them and providing them with proper nutrition.

As far as exercises, I'm a big proponent of free-body exercises (where your body is the resistance) and powerlifting movements. I never use machines. My routine to get ready for ski touring season is centered around a few powerlifting movements. A typical workout would look like:

Six sets cleans
three sets clean-and-jerk
three sets snatches
two sets full squat
two sets straight-leg dead lift
calf raises with bar on back

Then, two full days rest where I eat everything in sight. A few days later, I do a light upper body workout with pull-ups, dips, ab exercises, etc., all free-body or with weight tied to my waist. I incorporate hill running throughout until day 10, when I start over.

The only other advice I have is don't get stuck in a routine for too long. It's boring, and your body will get into a groove. You need to constantly change things up to hit different areas.

Big caveat: If you've never done these sorts of powerlifting movements, it's very easy to hurt yourself, especially your back. Make sure someone helps you out and watches your form to ensure you're not muscling it up with your back instead of your legs and ass.

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by bird » Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:32 pm

8 Weeks out from an event is pretty late to be starting strength training. Your focus should be on running. The time to weight train is the "off season". That being said, your "easy days" would be the obvious place to add some weight training. Stick with multi joint exercises like deadlifts & squats. Kettlebell swings, sit ups, back extensions are also good for core training. 2 days a week may toughen you up a bit before the race, but if you do that and taper for 2 weeks, you are realistically looking at 12 sessions. Will you benefit? Probably not as much as if you stick to your main running efforts.

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by CClaude » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:55 am

EdF is right, rest is critical, but this late in the game, I'd recommend weight training but for muscles that running fails to address.

Hip flexors and extensors are a critical one. A recent research study has shown by strengthening them you will decrease your chance of a running related injury.

Arms are also another one. As you finish your race and when your exhausted, driving with your arms is a way of maintaining your form and drive. At this stage concentrate on what you've done and not getting hurt, but if this is not a one off and something that you plan on as a lifelong thing, the weights will help ward off injuries.

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by psycobill » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:53 pm

Wow, thanks for all the great advice fellas, lots to chew on. One thing I failed to mention is that this isn't my main goal race for the year or the begining of a season of races for me. Its more of a "preseason" race to get me ready for this year. I guess you could say my "season" starts in October with a 50k and then 1 race (50k and longer) each month after that till March. So in a way this race is more of a stepping stone race. It should mark my peak in weekly mileage that I plan on holding out for 4-8 weeks after and then begin sharpening for my main season of racing. I should have mentioned that before.

The reason I've felt I needed to lift is because of fatigue in the latter miles of my long runs. Particularly in my hip flexors, hamstrings and shins (I've really worked on correcting any overstriding). Not to mention random times I play some backyard football or other leg dominant sport and I'm sore for several days after.

I have a background in O lifting & was once a Kettlebell addict, so I was definitely wanting to incorporate some into my training.
Ed F, the 10 day or 2 week schedule seems interesting.

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by KBurnett » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:11 pm

It's hard to answer without knowing more about you - age, how well you recover, how much time you have, etc. I know for me, there's no way I could throw lifting on top of that running schedule and expect to live more than a month, but I have a fulltime job, commute, kids, house, and not much time to recover.

So, take that into consideration.

Also you mention that you're concerned about fatigue later in your long runs. I would say that lifting will not help that much at all. You're talking about pure muscle endurance at that point not strength. I'm not saying that being stronger (without adding body weight) won't help you in many ways, only that increasing your deadlift 50lbs will not likely result in your legs feeling any better after 50k. You're training two different energy systems.

Ever seen a video of a guy who can squat 600lbs, but can't do 100 air squats fast without falling over? I think you are dealing with the same thing here.

I would also echo Bird that any hard lifting where you are trying to make progress - increased strength, work capacity, etc, should be left to the off season and then you should drop down to one or two workouts at most to maintain during the season - even dropping it altogether in season in favor of training only running.

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by psycobill » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:50 am

KBurnett, I'm 27, married- no kids yet!-, have a 7 minute commute, and happen to have a rugged 3000 acre state park literally in my back yard :) I feel very lucky. Growing up I was involved in sports that involved lots of lifting and more explosive strength. In the past 5 years I've moved over to endurance and more adventure type sports. My body takes really well to longer endurance efforts and takes around 2 weeks to adapt to added stress (like B2B2B training days) Just to give you more info! Also, I haven't strength trained consistantly for some time

So it seems a couple of upper body and core workouts are definitely a given to have in there.

So what if I sub one run with hill repeats (3k-5k gain with a weighted pack), and just do one leg & core dominant workout (O-lifts & Kbell) after a flat run? Would that seem to be better suited strength training to the event without losing specificity?

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by KBurnett » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:29 pm

Well, you certainly are at the best stage of your life for pulling something like this off.

I would definitely recommend adding as many as 3 days of "strength training" during the off season and 1 or 2 in season. You may be fine without the core training now, but at some point you'll need it.

A couple of things to consider. You are likely getting enough cardio from your running so watch out for adding a lot of high intensity circut type training or using exercises that drive up your heart rate if you are already doing that with running. I love kettlebells, but find that exercises like swings are as much a lung workout as a strength workout so I tend to drop them as my miles increase.

Hiking uphill with a pack is certainly a great way to build overall strength. I would recommend filling it with water and dumping it at the top to save your knees on the way down. And again, watch your body closely. You are already getting a ton of volume/reps on your legs and this will only add more. You might be better off doing front squats and lunges which will increase core and leg strength without adding 100's of reps to your legs.

Planks - front and side, renagade rows, lunges, glute bridges, bird dogs, etc, will all strengthen your core which should make you a more efficient runner and keep your upper body from failing you later in your races.

Have fun!

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