Note from RT: The author is offering some brief guidelines to strength training in running. If you wish to explore this more you should consult an accredited professional before proceeding with your strength program. Instagram posts featured have no association with the author.

How to match strength training to your running

By Mark Blomeley for The Runner's Tribe' Run School

One assumption or in fact trap that a lot of runners get into when strength training is that they do the same or similar routine each time they go to the gym. However when it comes to programming for your running obviously you have varying loads and intensities based on the time of year it is.

For example, if we take your average road runner at the moment, it’s the offseason, so it’s a good opportunity to develop your base. This means lower intensity but higher volume. As you move into February – April period, you tend to increase your intensity while maintaining your training volume. Then you hit May-September where your intensity remains high, while your volume tends to decrease.

The fact is that strength training can and should follow the same pattern as your running. What a lot of runners do is to do some strength training during the offseason and preseason, then let it slip away during times that they are racing more. This shouldn’t be the case. While you can certainly decrease the volume of your strength training while racing, the goal should be to maintain the strength that you have developed so you’re in the best state to race.

Saturdays have us all SHOOK! Finished up the week with razor curls ☠️

A video posted by ELLA NELSON (@ellanelson200) on

So as a general rule, during the offseason, it is a good opportunity to add 1-2kgs of useable weight, in other words, muscle. Therefore add some volume to your training, in other words, you can lift a little bit lighter but lift for more repetitions, you might utilise a rep scheme such as 3 sets of 8 repetitions. As you move into the preseason then you need to select a rep scheme based on your individual needs. If you’re new to lifting weights then you might maintain that 3 sets of 8 to improve your movement. If you’ve been strength training a while then you’ll want to decrease your volume while increasing the load your lifting. For example 3 sets of 5 at a higher weight.

As you move into the competition cycle or your racing period, then you need to keep the intensity (or weight) high but volume low, therefore 3 sets of 3 or 2 sets of 5 is a good rep scheme to utilise during this period.

Most novice lifters make the mistake of thinking the only way to create variation in your strength programming is through changing the exercise. However, as you can see from the above example there are a number of other variables that we as strength and conditioning coaches use to manipulate the training response to match that of the sport you are training for.

Trying to find some #BALANCE ??‍♀️ @nbrunning

A video posted by G E N E V I E V E • LA C A Z E (@gengen_lacaze) on

The key here is planning. Know what you’re going to do in your running program and then attempt to match the goal with what you do in the gym.


Note from RT: We encourage anyone to comment on any of the above and let the author/viewers know your thoughts on this topic.

RT’s Run School featuring Mark Blomeley. Mark is a strength and conditioning coach with over 10 years experience in the sports and fitness industry. Currently, in Brisbane, he is a specialist strength and conditioning coach for runners from international standard elites to the everyday runner. 

For more advice on running, strength training for runners and becoming a better athlete go to


  1. Great article for a good strength program throughout the year. The most time runners know how to manage their running training, but not the strength one too.
    My question about a strength session is: if have to complete 3 sets of 4 different exercises (calves-quadriceps-hamstrings-buttocks), better changing exercises for each set and repeat, or better executing 3 sets of the same exercise per time and then change?

    • From the author: It’s best to choose your exercise for the target muscle group (my preference is to target the movement rather than the muscle but that’s a different post), and then do 3 sets on that exercise. Stick with 3 sets of that exercise for 4 to 8 weeks then vary the exercise.

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