Strength Training to Improve Running/Cardio Question

emAZn Posts: 413 Member
Question for those who have a good strength training/cardio routine down…

I have always loved my cardio – running, elliptical, biking 3-5 days a week with very minimal strength training included, maybe 4-5 times a month and when I do it’s mostly arms, shoulders, back, and abs with maybe a couple lunges for good measure. I also train for a half-marathon once a year and then most-if not all of my cardio comes from running since I’m on a training schedule.

Well I’ve gotten the running bug and have happily gotten my mile time down from a 12.5 min mile to 10.5 :) but in my last half my muscles were so fatigued by the end of the race I barely had enough gas to get me through the finish. My cardio was all there but my strength was super lacking. So with my upcoming marathon training starting in September I’ve really been trying to focus on strengthening my muscles but doing it on my own wasn’t working so I bought a groupon and joined a cross-fit gym. Holy squats and lunges galore!! I’ve been doing this for almost two weeks now and I’ve managed to get 3 cardio sessions in and my legs aren’t entirely sore but they are really fatigued. For example, my 5 mile run today averaged a 12.5 min mile and that’s because I had to walk and I felt like I was running through mud.

So what to do? I’ve got about 2 months of strength training I can focus on before I have to start marathon training but I would probably have to cut back on my runs (maybe 1 or 2 a week) to allow proper rest from my crossfit training or do I cut back on strength and focus on maintaining my mile time?

Also any suggestions for including strength while marathon training? I just hate running with these fatigued muscles, it makes running no fun and kind of de-motivating.


  • splashwags
    splashwags Posts: 262 Member
    Kind of curious on this topic myself...My strength training of late has been focused on 'Strength" I am wondering if lighter weights more reps from an endurance perspective might be the answer.
  • hpilon27
    hpilon27 Posts: 43
    Make sure you're eating enough to feed your muscles! The only time I feel fatigue in my muscles is when I run early in the morning and haven't eaten anything yet. Even having a sports/nutrition bar helps -- energy without feeling full. Also, as the weight comes off, the running gets easier, although I must say you already look quite slim.
  • FitbitVanessa
    FitbitVanessa Posts: 37 Member
    I'm interested in responses to this topic too!
  • MeadowSong
    MeadowSong Posts: 171 Member
    Haven't ever trained to run like that but was regularly running with my son who was getting ready for Air Force basic training. I got my mile to 10 minutes. Then found "New Rules of Lifting for Women" and jumped in with both feet. Strength training takes less time for better results-ie I felt better and could do more. I was trying to lift 3 times a week, but it was often only two. After 4-5 months of lifting (and I am active regularly, ride my horse, mow my lawn, etc. . .) and NO running at all--I STILL RAN A 10 MINUTE MILE. And actually I did it better and it was more fun than when I tried to get there running. Don't know how that would work with a marathon--you need super endurance for that--but for us regular folks, strength training is awesome prep for all of life. An aside: after 4-5 months of not lifting or running (life issues, should have dealt with them faster, now I have an extra 15 lbs also!), my mile was 14 minutes and I was still tired the next day. I'm lifting again now and don't intend to ever let anything stop me again.
  • Nishi2013
    Nishi2013 Posts: 210 Member
    Focus on workouts that build quads (acceleration) and hams (decelaration. Squats helped me with my HIIT Runs. Lunges will help too. Leg presses and kick backs are great too.
  • bfinup
    bfinup Posts: 47
    I'm doing a half training plan and do the starting strength lifts 3 days a week. I know what you mean about being super fatigued and not enjoying running, as that is how I feel.

    What I did is cut my squat weight down to a weight that was heavy but I don't progressively load every workout, but I do it every week or so. Also my t/th runs suck and I struggle to get through them (5 miles) but I eat more on Saturdays so my long runs on Sunday (9+) are more enjoyable.

    I'm currently cutting so I know that isn't helping my situation but I am managing. I'd probably recommend going to maintence/surplus if you want to build muscle before starting seriously marathon training.
  • Amcolecchi
    Amcolecchi Posts: 260 Member
    Have you looked into Hal Higdon's training? I am currently training for a half and I use his workout plans! They are extremely helpful!
  • emAZn
    emAZn Posts: 413 Member
    Thanks for the info! It sounds like if I keep up with my HIIT strength training and pair it with some type of cardio (maybe eliptical or biking since my runs aren't where I want them for now) then by the time September rolls around I'll have built muscle and maintained most of my endurance and be ready to kick some marathon traning butt!!
  • emAZn
    emAZn Posts: 413 Member
  • RebeccaHite
    RebeccaHite Posts: 187 Member
    Looking at your food eat more protein
  • rapat
    rapat Posts: 108 Member
    I'm not an expert but here's just my guess as to a good answer:

    Cut down on upper body training. Maybe once or twice a week -- it shouldn't really help with your half marathon.

    For lower body, I'd do sprints, and plyometric type exercises -- box jumps, squat jumps, etc). Search for plyometric box training.

    I would guess that heavy back squats, leg presses, etc might not help that much and will leave you too sore to properly train on your cardio; unless you want to do them once a week (maybe before an offday or offweekend).

    I came across a good blog earlier in the week that almost advocates for no lower body training except sprinting for lower body strength --
  • emAZn
    emAZn Posts: 413 Member
    Awesome thankd for the article!
  • brandiuntz
    brandiuntz Posts: 2,717 Member
    All these answers are interesting. I currently run 3 times a week and do Stronglifts 3 times a week. Plus, one true rest day.

    I am trying to find a balance, as I will start training for a half-marathon in 2 months (October) and currently run on average 4-6 miles per run (have a 10k in early Sept). I've definitely had some fatigue on run days after the strength days. I've decided to slow the weight progression, but I don't want to reduce strength training days, as I enjoy that as much as running.
  • froeschli
    froeschli Posts: 1,292 Member
    When I first started lifting (along wih my 10k training) I had to run right after lifting because I'd be too sore the next day. Then, after a few weeks I ran after lifting and the day inbetween. It gets better as you get used to it. Providing you eat enough and rest enough.
    Besides, you learn to work through fatigue :wink: