If you’re someone who loves to run, it’s easy to convince yourself that running, alone, is sufficient for meeting your fitness goals and maintaining a high level of health.

While running can be very beneficial for the body, especially for improving cardiovascular health, it’s not the only form of exercise that has merit.

Strength training is important for everyone, but runners, in particular, ought to make it a regular part of their routine. Not only will regular strength training help with injury prevention, but it can also improve running speed and power.

You may know that strength training is important, but you might also be at a loss as to how you can incorporate it into your running program without sacrificing your runs themselves.

Read on to learn about some strategies you can implement to make sure you’re getting the best of both worlds when it comes to combining both running and resistance training.

1. Break Up Your Strength Training Sessions

When they’re told to include strength training into their running program, must runners respond by asking how they’re supposed to find time for that?

The good news is that you don’t have to follow up your hour-long run with another 30-60 minutes of strength training. That would be a lot of work for your muscles, and delaying your recovery that way could cause you to experience diminishing returns.

Instead of stacking your running and strength workouts, try splitting up your strength training so that you do it throughout the day as you have time. You could do ten minutes of strength training exercises in the morning before your run, then do ten minutes on your lunch break and ten at the end of the day before you eat dinner.

Splitting up your workouts this way helps you maintain a muscle-building signal for a longer period of time. It also makes your workouts less daunting and helps you reduce soreness from your runs.

2. Use Resistance Bands

If you don’t have or don’t want a gym membership and don’t own any strength training equipment, you might think that it’s simply not an option for you. This couldn’t be further from the truth, though.

Portable tools like resistance bands are a great option for people with limited budgets who still want to work on their strength and muscle building.

Resistance bands are lightweight and easy to store. They’re also great for taking with you while you travel. That way, you don’t have any excuse not to skip a strength training session.

3. Strength Train on Light Run Days

It’s fine to strength train and run on the same day. But, it’s not ideal to do a strength training session on the same day that you do a long or difficult run.

After these runs, your body needs about 24 hours to recover. Save your resistance exercises for rest days or days when you just run a short distance.

If you are pairing your run and strength work, try to separate them by at least six hours. This will give you time to start recovering from your run or strength session (whichever came first) and will allow you to perform better during both workouts.

4. Break Up Your Runs with Short Circuits

If you’re not one for distance running, or if you’re not training for a specific race, you can also benefit from breaking up your runs with short strength training circuits. This will help you get your cardio and muscle building in all in one workout.

One way to do this is to choose 3-4 exercises and do 2-3 sets of 15 reps of each one after running for a certain period of time. Maybe you’ll stop every 10-15 minutes or every quarter mile. It’s totally up to you. Great exercises to do during these circuits include lunges, push-ups, planks, and glute bridges.

5. Do Exercises that Complement Your Running

Finally, make sure you’re doing exercises that complement and enhance your running abilities. For runners, the following exercises are all great options:

  • Squats

  • Deadlifts

  • Push-ups

  • Planks

  • Lunges

All of these exercises are simple and can be done with resistance bands, dumbbells, or (with the exception of the deadlifts) bodyweight.

They’re great additions to a running program because they’ll help you improve your mobility and reduce your injury risk. Because they’re compound movements, they’ll also help you maintain your muscle mass more than single-joint exercises (like bicep curls or tricep extensions).