How To Balance Running & Strength Training {Half Marathon Training Tips}

With Labor Day behind us, fall is upon us. For many, that translates into race season! Whether you’re an avid half marathoner or aiming to run your first 5K, chances are you’ve got a race or two in mind.

I haven’t really put a lot of emphasis on my running here lately, but my race schedule is blowing up:

Sept 7: Mega Mud Run

October 12: Lowcountry Trail 1/2 Marathon (still contemplating)

October 20: Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon

November 2: James Island Connector 10K (If you’re in Charleston, use “DiscountKindal” to get $5 off registration)

November 5: Mountain Goat Trail Invitational 10K 

January 18: Charleston 1/2 Marathon

And as of right now, that’s it.

That’s a lot… at least for me.

How am I training for half marathons while still keeping my strength training going strong and the central focus of my workout program?

By keeping it a priority.


I was talking with a friend the other day who was surprised I was able to keep up with my 3 days of lifting while doing my half training. She told me know that when she was training for her last race, she put the weights on the sideline and focused on running.

Her question to me was…

“I don’t know how you do it… in fact, HOW DO YOU DO IT?”

I think it’s time to reveal my secrets.

how to strength train and run a marathon

How To Balance Training For A Race And Strength Training

  • Don’t let yourself off. 

Strength training is important not only for my sanity, but for my running. The two go hand in hand. Strength training keeps my core (especially my back), my legs and my arms in shape and strong helping to minimize risk of injury.

Why would I give up something that helps me? 

To be honest, cutting back on weights has never been an option. I wouldn’t let myself off that easy.


Lemon squeezes… my favorite core more!

  • Remember, you don’t have to run ALL the time. 

The idea that you have to run all the time to be a runner is a misconception.

I know several runners who take days off and allow themselves to cross train. You have time to do both. For half marathon training, I run 3-4 days a week and lift 3 days. Some of those days include both so that I have at least 1 complete rest day.

  • Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. 

Because of my schedule, I have to do my long runs on the weekend. I guess technically I could cut out a weight training day during the week, and do my long run then, but nope. Not going to happen.

That means on Fridays, I am in bed by 10:30pm and up by 5:30am to beat the heat. Late nights out aren’t an option during training, and lucky for me, Dan understands.

If you want something bad enough, you’re okay with making such a sacrifice. If you aren’t okay with it, then maybe you should rethink your commitment.

I’ve learned over the years, that if you want something bad enough, you make the time for it.

  • Double Days. 

I’ve tweeted it, I’ve instagrammed it, and I’ve blogged it… Tuesdays are double days for me.

I wake up early to get a track workout in with my small (but awesome) run group. I go home, cool down, and a few hours later hit the gym with Dan for weight training.

It’s hard but it’s what I have to do if I want to have 3 days of strength training and still have a 100% complete rest day (sometimes 2).

I understand that most people don’t have the time to do 2 separate workouts, however, it is possible to spend 30 minutes doing speed work on a treadmill and then follow it up with 30 minutes in the weight room.

  • Eat More! 

Right now, I am trying to add some muscle to my frame and when training for a half marathon that can be very, very difficult to do.

I am not quite ready to share, but Dan and I are both making some changes to our nutrition right now. I will say this, I am adding calories. You have to, if you’re not trying to lose weight. I’m running more than ever, combine that with high circuit training and calorie deficits would have my muscles melting away faster than butter in a hot skillet.

Right now, I am aiming for 200-300 extra calories/day (more on long run days). So far, so good. No weight gain, no weight loss… and fat % at a low.


Shakes are my go to snack for extra calories! 

My Personal Training Schedule

Enough of my long winded preaching (at least you know how important balancing my training is to me)…

Here’s my personal program. I know this isn’t going to be for everyone but I’ve gotten so many questions and requests for it that I felt it was necessary to share.

I also know some people might look at this and think I’m crazy, however it works for me. It’s worked for me for the past 1.5 years so I’m sticking with it.

Sunday –> Strength Training 

Monday –> Easy Run

Tuesday –> Speed Workout & Strength Training

Wednesday –> Off or Easy Run (depending on how my body feels)

Thursday –> Strength & Tempo Run 

Friday –> REST

Saturday –> Long Run

Are you training for a fall race? 

How many days/week do you workout?


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