T Nation

Long-Distance Running and Weightlifting


Hello all,

I really enjoy running and weight lifting, however, I find it difficult to balance the two out. At this point, I've found a pretty good balance between them, but it seems like one week strength suffers but then another week it's the running and suffers. I'm only running between 20-30 miles a week. Lifting three days a week. Two days of squats, one day of deads, and minimal lower body assistance work. Upper body work doesn't seem to affect me much. Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone here on T-Nation has good advice for balancing running and lifting. I find this an interesting topic, so any discussions of the two are welcome.



My best advice is to eat a lot and not low carb. The advice you are probably going to get is to stop (distance)running :stuck_out_tongue:


What are your goals?



My best advice is to eat a lot and not low carb. The advice you are probably going to get is to stop (distance)running :stuck_out_tongue:


If you enjoy it, don't stop, and as she said, eat a ton. You shouldn't have big issues. I'm hitting 20-35 miles a week now, and still lifting 3-4 days a week. For me, I needed to find the best exercises in the gym that wouldn't kill my running, and then time my running so it doesn't interfere with the lifting. Box squats and overhead presses don't hurt my running, and I keep the reps low. For a while, I was running 60-80 miles a week, and lifting too, but didn't see many strength gains, so watch the volume on either side. See what works for you and enjoy.


Need to know your goals buddy.
Im currently trainign for endurance, as Im a semi pro soccer player

My suggestion would be to do a 2 body split;

day 1: upper body. Select one exercise as your main lift and lift heavy. And then do 3-4 accesory exercises.

day 2: lower body. Heavy squats o deadlifts. Rotate every 6 weeks or so.

tweet tweet


Bigquig, what were your lifts like when you were running those 60-80 mile weeks. How many days were you lifting? I feel like at this point, if I were to run more than 30 I would fall apart, but something tells me that part of that is just my apprehension at adding miles. Any good suggestions as to when miles should be added?
My goals right now are to gain some strength on the squat and bench while still running 20-30 miles a week and then when summer comes, try and run and cycle as much as humanly possible without losing strength. I know, it's a tough task, but I figure why the hell not?


LOL at "only" 20 to 30 miles per week!


Nards, it's all relative. I'm sure guys running cross country look at 50 or even 60 and say the same thing.

hachawah, I'll definitely check that out. Thanks for the find.


It was a while ago, I'm not positive. I weighed 190, was training for a 100 miler, and also qualified for Boston and ran in it. (7:17 pace for qualifier, and I think a 7:24ish for Boston).
I know I dropped my weight down to 185 and was snatching just over bodyweight, and I had a 475 lb deadlift, all while running heavily, and now that I remember it, doing a 1 mile or so swim twice a week. I wish I remembered all the details, but I can't. Also, these lifts were improvements during the endurance phase. I wasn't incredible at either by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I did fairly well in each. It's possible, but I slept a lot and ate even more. Good luck.

Also saw this. Greatest ultrarunner of all time, undisputed. He talks about a lot of quality mileage on the track, so maybe that's the answer for some, and maybe will minimize your running time.



After a heavy squat or deadlift day, how much running do you typically do?

I am just starting to do some long distance running. Right now about 12-15 miles a week.

I ususally take it easy a day after squats/deadlifts.

Also do you run before or after lifting?


I'm by no means an expert on this, and I've only been running like 6 months. But right now, I work out three days a week. Run 3-4 days a week. I never run and lift lower body on the same day. I find that you can lift upper body and run in the same day if you do one in the morning and the other at night. I used to do my "long" 10 miler on friday after a thursday of squats and deads but my running always sucked and it was just a drag. Honestly, you have to experiment to find what works for you, and I'm at that point right now where I still have a whole lot to learn.


I have only been doing it briefly, but have found that running makes me feel better both mentally
& physically.

I know most of the users on here are against steady state cardio. Personally I feel better doing both than just lifting.


Xen--your profile pic kicks ass! It is the same picture I have as my smartphone background heh. I love it.

OP-- my only real major advice would be to prioritize hamstrings big time. Both myself and others I know in the collegiate s/c world have noticed that long-distance guys and soccer players basically have no hamstrings at all. I believe the constant force absorption a long distance runners quads get from all the pavement pounding (or track/xc) over miles and miles tends to exacerbate quad dominance and weak/sleepy hamstrings.

And yes, I know it's not universally true. It just is a pattern I have seen.


@ Aragorn-that hamstring thing makes a lot of sense and I've seen it in myself. Quads take over, ass and hamstrings hardly do anything, and it carried over to where I had trouble in my DL lockout (ass wasn't doing any work at all). Maybe that's why box squats seem to be bringing up weaknesses in me now.

@ JNasty-I'd recommend taking it easy on the running or not doing it at all after a lot of squatting or deadlifting. In my experience, if that running isn't sprinting, it seems to work counter to what you tried to accomplish with the squats and DLs.

@ OP-I'll echo what others have said, and say to do what works for you, maybe make some goals, be it running a race, lifting, or both, and get after it.


A man can serve only one master at a time.

or.....a man can be a good husband and a whoremonger in his lifetime, but not at the same time.


I think that's a bit too simplistic of an analogy for this topic. It can be done. It's just tough and you must progress at a snail's pace.


It is possible providing you prioritize one activity over the other. You may have periods with great progress and others that are a grind. Don't be afraid to make modifications as you go. Many find it a challange to maintain strength levels during periods of endurance training, let alone improve. You are at a great age to give it a try and you will certainly learn a lot about yourself. Best of luck!


"Only" 20-30 miles a week is about right. That's a decent amount of volume, no doubt, but it's less than most marathon training programs.

Aragorn's hamstring comment was interesting because when I ventured into triathlon training some years back my quads were hammered and my squat suffered but my deadlift stayed the same - no real loss of strength in the deadlift. Upper body did just fine, as well, and I was even able to gain some upper body strength, which was great for the swim. I had a similar experience when I did a half-marathon two years ago - deadlift and upper body did fine, squat suffered. In your case, if you don't plan on increasing your running volume, your body will eventually adapt to running 20-30 miles a week and you might even see some squat improvement. Doing both is tough but doable.

When I did endurance stuff I also did a lot of "cardio strength" training in the form of barbell complexes and kettlebell work. It's a compromise - cardio strength training will let you keep some strength and also provide some improvement in your endurance. I've been challenged to do an Olympic distance triathlon this summer so I'll be doing more of this type of work. I've also recently incorporated sled dragging into my routine and I really enjoy it.

It's worth it to me to do some endurance events. I don't see the point of having lots of muscle mass if I can't climb a flight of stairs without getting winded. Feel free to PM me and we can share stories, good or bad.


I'm an applied Exercise & Sport Science major, this is right up my alley....

By running that great of volume while lifting you're severely inhibiting you're muscle/strength gaining capacity. You're working two different body systems that typically work separately & even against each other in some cases. By training aerobically (running) you're severely inhibiting you're anaerobic system, however, anaerobic exercise does increase you're aerobic capacity. If you want to build muscle, stop running. If you want to improve you're running, keep lifting. It's that simple.

The only reason to run would be to get the lactic acid out of your muscles on your "off days." But at most it would only take one or two miles to do that, anything above that is detrimental to you're anaerobic goals.

Either stop running & gain muscle or tweak your lifting program to support your running goals, that's about it.


I'm going to completely disagree here.

Elite level decathletes run 40-50km weekly mileage (most of it very fast) and are still able to put up 500# squats, 300# cleans, and 15m shot puts. Some beyond that.

The body systems don't work against each other. The reason it's hard to do both is because you need to be put in the time and effort to train both, and you need to have superior recovery ability so that you can recover from both.

Anaerobic exercise does not increase aerobic capacity. That's just silly. Anaerobic training can help in aerobic sports, but that's different.

Lactic acid is removed from the body almost immediately after exercise. It's not in the muscles on off days, so there is no reason for that.