How Is Strength Training Included In My Training Without Hindering My Run Or Bike Performance?
Strength training is beginning to find its place within the training protocols of more and more endurance athletes. The next question that needs to be answered is strength training implemented within a training cycle to be most beneficial to endurance athletes without hindering performance. The good news is that strength training and endurance training can co-exist in the training regimen of endurance athletes. However, strength training and endurance training cannot progress together throughout the year. Our bodies will not be able to maintain progressively building a high level of intensity with endurance and strength concurrently.
Generally, at the end of the year (near October or November) is the end of the season for most runners, cyclists, and triathletes. I will give endurance athletes a 12 week off season in which time our main focus is building strength and power. This 12-week period will be a progressive 3x/wk build in strength coupled with low intensity endurance (or activities you enjoy). As we progress through the season, we will shift the primary focus to endurance training, and strength training 1-2x/wk to maintain the strength and power we built in the off season.
Where in my training week is it best to add strength training?
Ideally, we would separate strength training and endurance training at two separate times of the day if we are completing two sessions on these days. When scheduling a strength session you need to take into account the intensity of the other training session that day and what type of training will be following the next day or two. Example, I would not schedule a high intensity workout on Tuesday evening if I had a very long session or high intensity session scheduled for Wednesday morning.
So, how do I prioritize strength & endurance training if I only have time for one session?
I would follow that question with what point of the season are you currently in? In the off season I generally build a 12 week base strength and power program which includes 2-3x/ wk of progressive strength training to build a base we can maintain throughout the season. The endurance during this time is usually something you would enjoy doing or short distance, low intensity training.
At this point in the training cycle our main goal is to build a strength base and I would encourage you to complete your strength and conditioning training and skip the endurance. If we are later in the season or close to peaking before a race we would generally be completing strength training 2x/wk and eventually taper to 1x/wk as we move closer to peaking. The goal at this point is not to build additional power or strength but rather to maintain the strength we built in the off season and complete accessory exercises to mitigate injury. At this time of the training cycle, the endurance training session would take priority over the strength training since we are within the main season and need to complete the sport specific tasks.
Where do I go from here?
We are continually educating and working alongside athletes, coaches, teams, and clubs about the importance of strength training for endurance athletes, and how to properly periodize and implement strength training throughout the year. If you are looking for a way to change your training to improve your performance or limit your risk of injury throughout the year, please reach out to us or join one of our groups for endurance athletes.