Running and weight training have an uneasy relationship. Pavement pounders are loath to lift heavy, fearing weight gains will slow them down—even if they’re adding muscle. That’s a strategic error.
“For runners, dedicated strength work can help with maintaining proper mechanics, especially when they begin to fatigue,” says Terra Castro, founder of Detroit Body Garage and a former professional triathlete. “Having a powerful arm drive helps when legs get tired. And without a strong core, posture suffers.” Run coaches have long recommended bodyweight strength moves like squats, lunges, and bridges to bolster glutes, hamstrings, and leg muscles to fend off injury. But it might be time to go heavy.
To that end, Castro created a lower body- and core-focused training plan that’s more challenging than the usual set of lunges and squats often prescribed to runners. Gym rats should try it, too. The plan also emphasizes cardio and endurance, which will improve your overall fitness.
And put those strong legs to the test with a 10-week half-marathon training plan, designed by Brian Hammond, a New York City–based endurance coach. It’s a balance of running, lifting, cross-training, and recovery. If you’ve wanted to race 13.1 miles, but your schedule is too unpredictable to follow a strict training calendar, this one’s for you.
Warm up, then perform 2 sets of each exercise for 10 to 12 repetitions per side (where applicable). Rest 1 minute between sets. If you are race training, lift heavier in the early weeks of the training calendar, then ease up on the intensity as the run mileage rises.
To transform this strength-building workout into high intensity interval training, switch to lighter weights, and set a goal of work time for each move—maybe 45 seconds on, then 15 seconds of rest, cycling through the 8 moves 2 or 3 times. One caveat: Speed things up without sacrificing form.