Since I had the amazing opportunity to start my fitness journey almost 10 years ago in a CrossFit gym, I have a bad habit of assuming that most people know how to go about getting started with Strength & Conditioning while also running either short or long distances. When I started, I didn’t know much about fitness at all. I was just lucky to be in a place where I could just show up, do the work, and see the benefits. If I had running goals I would just tell my coach and he would tell me what to do. Simple as that. What I have learned over the years is that not everyone is fortunate enough to have found themselves in such an environment. There is so much information out there now that it can be intimidating and very confusing for someone just starting out.
Getting strong while also achieving your running goals is very possible, but still confuses a lot of people. If you are one of those people that gets confused about when to lift weights, when to run, and when to do “cross training,” I’m going to explain to you exactly how I do it. I’m going to explain to you how I have trained to get from the couch to CrossFit (Strength & Conditioning) and Ultra Marathons. Hopefully this article will help get you started or at least pointed in the right direction.
Before we dive into it, I want to clear one thing up. CrossFit is not some insane workout regimen that only “crazy fit” people can do. Some people may not agree with me, but CrossFit is basically a strength & conditioning program. The majority of CrossFit classes that you walk into will usually follow this format: A Lift (strength portion) followed by a “MetCon” or Workout of the Day (WoD). The “WoD” is the conditioning piece. Officially I think CrossFit headquarters may disagree with this format, but from my experience, this is what you’re going to get when you walk into most CrossFit affiliates. Yes, there will be gymnastics and other skills mixed in from day to day, but for the most part you’ll be doing a lift and doing a workout. Granted, it is not easy. It will be hard, but I think it is important to think of it as strength and conditioning. You will get strong and you will get fit. Do you have to go to a CrossFit gym? No. There are plenty of gyms around the world that I am sure follow a very similar format, however, finding the best local CrossFit gym to go to is the quickest and easiest way to get into a good base strength and conditioning program to begin your running and fitness journey.
Where do you begin? First, put all of your preconceived notions out of your head. Whether you want to run a 10k or a 100 mile race one day, forget everything you’ve been told in the past. You need to find a good strength and conditioning program. This will be the foundation of your training. Like I said, finding a good CrossFit gym will be the best option, but what are your other options? For the purpose of this article, I’ll concede that not everyone can afford a $100-200/month gym membership. So what are your next options if you cannot get into a CrossFit or similar type gym?
You need a place where you can squat and do other barbell movements (Deadlifts, Presses, etc.). A gym with barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, rowers, and a place to do pull-ups will do nicely. Once you have that, you need a program. Our LHRL App (Link) will work great once you secure a place to do the workouts. If you just can’t afford a gym membership, then we also have a bodyweight program that you could start with, but honestly, I would make it a priority to find a place with the equipment.
So, in short, you need:
- A solid, well written strength program (with Squats, Deadlifts, etc.)
- A good conditioning program
This is not going to be easy. When I first started I was very out of shape and my diet consisted of McDonalds, Pizza, Beer, Cigarettes, Coffee with lots of sugar, and on and on. It was really hard for me to do the workouts, so my goal in the beginning was to show up to class just 3 times a week. The important thing for you to do is to decide to show up 3 times a week. Whatever you decide to do (CrossFit, LHRL App, Other program), start with deciding that you are going to do it at least 3 times a week and work up from there. The goal here is to be doing whatever program you choose consistently 4-5 times a week. Again, this is going to be the foundation or base of your training so make it a priority.
Start with skill and very low volume. When I say skill, I mean have someone watch you run that can help you correct errors before you start logging the miles. You want to avoid heel striking and bad position. We have a great program in the LHRL App called 3-2-1 Run. You can send a video of yourself in and have a coach (Valerie Hunt) tell you what you need to do to correct any problems. Valerie also provides this service on her website at RunRx.fit.
Once you are comfortable running, start adding in some running to your week in addition to your regular (strength and conditioning) workouts. The running programs that you will find on the LHRL App and the programs that I give to my clients usually have 3 running workouts per week in addition to their 3-5 days a week in the gym. An example of those 3 days looks like this:
So, two days of running intervals and one day of a longer run. The long run will vary depending on what race distance you are training for, 5k, 10k, Marathon, etc.
This is exactly what my training has looked like over the last 9+ years. I literally got up off the couch and worked my way into this kind of programming. I’ve consistently gone to CrossFit classes 4-5 times a week or had my own custom programming from a coach that I did 4-5 times per week in addition to 3 days of running when I’m training for a race. This training method has taken me from the couch all the way to my first 100 miler all while increasing my deadlift and squat weight. It works very well for me and I’ve seen it work well for many others.
Will there be adjustments that need to be made as you progress? Sure, but sometimes we need a place to start. Depending on your goals, you may need to adjust your runs or add in some other kinds of training but this is a great base and a great place to start.
If something isn’t clear and needs more explanation feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into our Facebook Group and ask.