Training for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even full marathon?? Or maybe just want to become a better/stronger runner without getting injured or burned out??
Here are some training tips that I discovered worked really well in helping me get faster, stay injury free, and allowed me to actually enjoy my runs.
Here’s the key: Less Running More Strength Training
I have done the 70 miles per week training. Yes, I got faster, but I constantly struggled with overuse injuries like shin splints and tendinitis. So when I cut back on volume and focused on doing less but better quality runs, it made a huge difference. I decided to try something completely different with my training and not only did I feel better and stronger, but I dropped my half marathon time by about 3 minutes! And I did it by running only 3 days a week. Here was my breakdown: 1 day of a shorter, steady pace 3-5 mile run, 1 day of some type of speed workout (typically 400m or 800m repeats), and 1 day for a long run.
Running only 3 days a week doesn’t mean you are sitting on the couch the other 4 days. I recommend 3-5 days of strength training (days can over lap with a couple of your running days so that you still get a rest day). A lot of runners neglect strength training, but I can say from personal experience that it helps prevent injury, improves speed and form, and allows you to feel stronger while running. Full body strength workouts in circuit format where you are getting your heart rate up are great for runners to use as cross training days. Also, taking time to focus on core and hip strengthening is crucial for runners in preventing injury. Since runners spend most of their time moving in one plane of motion, they tend to have weak hip abductors, which are responsible for lateral motion (such as side stepping or lateral lunges). The problem is that weak abductors compromise stabilization of the hip, which can lead to the hip, knee, and ankle injuries that are experienced by so many runners. So taking that extra 20-30 minutes of core and hip strengthening a few days a week is definitely worth it!
This training plan can be applied to 5k, 10k, and full marathon training as well. The length of runs and types of speed workouts will adjust according to the length of the race, but the same format can be applied to 3 running days and 3-5 strength days.
All that being said, if you are running 5, 6, or even 7 days a week, are happy with your training, are injury free, and feel great, then by all means continue what you are doing! (However, I would still recommend adding a few basic strengthening exercises to prevent injury.) But if you aren’t happy with your current training, can’t shake those nagging overuse injuries, or are just starting to feel burned out, give my method a try, and feel free to reach out for any other questions! Happy Running!