Run Before or After Workout


  • In order to be at the top of your running game, strength training is important for speed, stability, and injury prevention.
  • A recent review published in the journal Sports Medicine details how to balance lifting and running in order to minimize muscle soreness and increase performance.

    Running and strength training go hand in hand. Making time to hit the weights can help decrease your risk of injury and build muscle to improve your performance on the roads or trails. But we know firsthand that it’s never fun—or easy—to log that long run or speed workout on your training schedule when your muscles are still screaming from leg day. And, it can be a little tricky to figure out if you should run before or after your workout to maximize gains.

    But don’t ditch your strength workouts just yet. Thanks to recent research, it’s now easier to figure out how to balance both types of exercise so that you can get the most out of them—and still be able to walk.

    Published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers reviewed almost 100 studies to figure out what the best ways to combine leg day and running might be.

    But first, you might be wondering what the deal is behind why your performance takes a nosedive in the first place. According to lead author Kenji Doma, Ph.D., your running performance is impaired in between resistance training sessions due to the stress resistance training puts on your muscles—which can continue for up to 72 hours, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

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    “Resistance training-induced stress can hamper the muscle’s ability to contract optimally, which is vital for any type of movement, including running,” he told Runner’s World. “Therefore, undertaking any form of endurance training during periods of resistance training-induced stress can prevent endurance athletes from reaching their session goals, such as covering a particular distance or maintaining pace.”

    Not to mention, a hard leg day can lead to some serious soreness, too: It can take as much as a day or two more to recover from a lower-body session than a high-intensity run.

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    But skipping leg day is not the answer—finding out how to balance it with your running routine is. Here are the guidelines from the review that can help you do just that.

    1. If you’re running and strength training on the same day before an off-day…

    • Always run after you lift if you’re doing both on the same day.
    • If your strength session includes fast concentric contractions (when the muscle shortens—like the “up” motion of a squat) and slow eccentric contractions (when the muscle lengthens—like the “down” motion of a squat), it’s best to wait six hours before going for a run. Your run should be at low-to-moderate intensity.
    • If your strength session includes normal-speed concentric and eccentric moves, it’s best to wait nine hours before going for a run. Your run should be at low-to-moderate intensity.
    • Avoid running at a high intensity if you’re lifting on the same day.


      2. If you’re running the day after same-day running and strength training…

      • Run prior to lifting (on the day you do both) with at least nine hours of recovery in between if you’re running at a low-to-moderate intensity the next day.
      • Avoid high-intensity runs the day after same-day lifting and running, regardless of whether you ran or lifted first the day before.

        3. If you need to schedule high-intensity runs in the days following leg day…

        • Avoid running at a high-intensity level the day after a low-intensity strength workout. Instead, run at a low- or moderate-intensity pace the next day.
        • Allow at least 48 hours of recovery after leg day (with fast concentric contractions and slow eccentric moves) before a high-intensity or speed run.
        • Allow at least 72 hours of recovery after a moderate-to-high intensity lower body workout (with normal-speed concentric and eccentric moves) before a high-intensity of speed run.
        • Allow at least 72 hours of recovery after a high-volume lower body workout (with normal-speed concentric and eccentric moves) before a high-intensity of speed run.

          [Runner’s World 10-Minute Cross-Training, gives you five muscle-building routines that take just 10 minutes to get you stronger.]

          The bottom line: While the optimal amount of time to spread out workout types is different for everyone, the general rule of thumb according to Doma is this: The higher your resistance training volume is (more sets and exercises), the more recovery is needed before higher-intensity runs. Conversely, you can opt for lower-intensity runs if done the day after resistance training.

          “Overall, it is important for endurance athletes of all levels to monitor how their body recovers following a resistance training session, and figure out what type of running session is most affected during resistance training-induced stress,” he said.

          Of course, the best runners don’t neglect their upper body in the weight room, either: Here’s how to balance the rest of your strength-training with your running, too.


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