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?


  • i want to come race with you!! what a great schedule! and great tips!

    • Seriously think about the 200 Relay!

  • MIZ

    im an intuitive exerciser—but tend toward something moooooving five days a week.

    • Nice! I try to go with the “intuitive” instincts as well.

  • Great advice. I only strength train 2x/week b/c I run more than you do, but I never let the strength training go b/c it is SO important, especially to an old lady like me!

  • I’m struggling with keeping my weights part of my schedule. I’ve never had that problem before, but for some reason, this summer it’s becoming a struggle. I firmly believe in the lifting as well. I’m also doing 2-a-days to get in the weights, but I’m really slacking on the legs. And I know better! Great tips.

    • You can do it! Good luck!

  • Cecilia

     I am a runner and love to race.  But because of my work schedule, I only run 3 days a week. I recently started implementing strength training regularly. It’s been easy to manage because I’m injured. But I kept wondering, how am I going to fit the strength aspect into my training schedule when I can run again??  And Whaa-laa! Here it is! I can’t thank you enough for sharing! P.S. I’m really looking forward to hearing what your nutrition plan for adding calories is 🙂 

    • Thanks Cecilia! You’ll be able to balance them!

  • Thanks for sharing your tips! It’s easy to put strength training on the back burner when focusing so much on your running! You definitely have to make sacrifices to keep both a priority!

    • Definitely right, sacrificing stink but in the long run, it’s very rewarding!

  • One of the worst things I heard from a runner was that she thought since she was training for a marathon, she shouldn’t do lower body strength training because legs already got enough of a pounding. Since I started doing more squats and lunges and lower body stuff, along with doing runs on the bridge + garages… I am a *stronger* runner than ever. And it is that strength and endurance that gets you through a half marathon or a marathon- those distances aren’t all about speed. I also feel like strength training prevents injuries, using your muscles in a different way and using muscles you don’t always use (esp. if you’re primarily running on flat road).

    Runners don’t have to spend hours in the gym to fit in strength. There’s a lot of options for strength training- classes like BodyPump, some forms of yoga (not all), body weight exercises you can do at home, even a few great DVD workouts out there for people who are pressed on time.

    And… Tuesday’s my double day too, but it is worth it to work out with you ladies in the mornings :). Good luck in your race this weekend too- I can’t wait to read your recap and here about it next Tues.

    • Tuesdays are totally worth it!

  • Great schedule! I’ll definitely be referring back to this when if (when) I have a race to train for, in the future 🙂

  • I’m pretty much a cardio junkie! I like running; although, I wouldn’t consider myself a runner and I LOVE Zumba! But since I put so much emphasis on cardio, I wasn’t getting enough strength training in. Ironically, I hurt my foot, (possible stress fracture), so cardio is on hold at the moment and all my focus has been on strength, which I’m actually kind of enjoying. When my foot gets better and I can back to my usual routine, I definitely want have a more balanced workout routine, and these are some great tips to get me started! Thanks!

    • Your foot will be healed before you know it. i used to be a cardio junkie too, funny that was when I had all my injuries as well 🙁 love the balance of the two.

  • Great tips and info!! I’m training for the Baltimore Half in October, followed 2 weeks later by the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in NYC. Since the urban has obstacles, I can’t let my strength work slack. I aim for 2 days of solid strength training, 3 runs a week (1 long, 2 short), and 1 day of cardio based strength training (like plyo exercises, circuits, weights with runs in between, etc).

    • Awesome! Let me know how the Baltimore race is, I was thinking about that for next year!

  • Kim

    I do double workouts pretty frequently these days – only way to keep up with all of the training I want to put in (plus it helps with my stamina & endurance for the ultra!).

    • Exactly! When is the Ultra?

  • Spring is here in South Africa and now the races are so much more fun. At this moment I am training for the races and I do ensure that I do not lack on my strength training either.

    • South Africa? That’s a place my husband wants to visit so bad! Good luck race season!

  • Strength training is so important but I am guilty of not getting it in. I usually just tell myself I need to do it two or three times a week but I don’t actually schedule it. I only end up doing it about once then. I love your tips and I’m going to add it to my training calendar. Hopefully it will make me more accountable! Thanks for the motivation!

    • Good luck Angie! You can do it. Put it on your schedule then you can’t back out.

  • Kim S

    Can I just say this is my favorite outfit I have ever seen you in! You look HOT! Also, good post, I was just having this dilemma with considering the palmetto 200. Cause I really wanna focus mainly on my kettlebell stuff, but I would love to run with you all again! Plus it’d give me something to focus on while Colt is gone!

    • We’re focused on KB training too! We want to get certified! Interested?

    • Ps- Got those pants at the UA outlet for $13!

  • Kim S

    I am absolutely interested. I was just thinking that I should get certified cause i’m really digging it! There is no way you got those at UA for 13 dollars! Shut the front door. I love them! I love that color. Guess who is making a stop at the outlets tomorrow! This girl! but mostly to buy sweaters……i’m freezing!

    • it’s cold there already? Haha, we were out on the water today!

  • Jenni

    I just stumbled across this after my google search “running and weight training”…so inspiring. I’m in the middle of training for my first full marathon and usually run a half marathon per quarter along with keeping up with a 3-4 day weight training schedule per week. I usually run mornings and keep the evening for weight training so I can manage to get all the necessary calories for my workout. What have you found to be the most successful weight training? Low weights high reps, or high weights, low reps? Just curious…my weight training partner (the boyfriend) has had 3 shoulder surgeries so we usually stick to low weights high reps but I’d like to see more muscle growth than what I’m experiencing. Any advice?

  • Monica Glissade

    What kind of strength training are you doing on those three days? A half marathon has been a distant goal for a while now, but I think I’d like to seriously start training for one, but I know I won’t want to let go of lifting!

    • travellingbones

      When training for a half I do a long run on Sundays, a short but fast run one other day, and try to do strength training two other days. One day I do pushups (usually 5 sets), 3 sets of abs, and then pullups/shoulder work maybe three sets, and add a few random things like planks, burpees. Takes me 30 min- 45 min. The other strength day I do the advanced 7 minute workout and buffer it w/ some jumping jacks and pushups so it’s like 10 – 15 min.

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