T Nation

Mixing Distance Running with Lifting


Hey guys,

I am currently entering my senior year in college. I am in the National Guard and the ROTC program and will soon be commissioning as a 2nd Lt. in the army (to all you prior duty guys, go ahead and make your jokes about getting lost in the woods :slightly_smiling:

As many of you know, the army has a PT test requirement. Bottom line is that in order to max the 2 mile run, you need to get it in 13:00 mins. I have been able to get to 13:30 but average about 13:45-14:15 mins. I want to get that down to the 13:00 area. Problem is, I enjoy lifting weights and I don't want to have to give up lifting just to increase my run.

Does anyone have tips on how to mix lifting (and increasing muscle/aesthetics) with running? I know sprinting is the best form of conditioning for lifters, but I have to focus on a longer distance. If anyone has experience in this area, I'd appreciate some advice.



Couple things partner.

Running and lifting aren’t incompatible, especially a distance as short as 2 miles. The last few months I’ve been training for runs (10 mi, marathon relay) and have consistently blown through PRs in my big lifts. I Have a half marathon AND a 65 mile bike ride in the fall, and fully expect to keep trucking through the weights. The key to this is balance and recovery.

Most importantly, IF the two weren’t compatible, if your career depends on it the choice is clear. You have your entire life to lift weights, but only x amount of time to pass the test. Train like an athlete.


I do 5/3/1, upping the intensity & lowering volume over several cycles, and follow the up 5 cycles, back 3 cycles protocol. I’ve found that this setup worked great coupled with running, which I pretty much did whenever I wanted/needed.

Granted, I’m probably not going to win the half or a powerlifting comp. but doing both can work if that’s what you like or need


Try to focuse on the distance running for some time. If you did 13:30 before, to make it 13 shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, it’s hard, of course, but you are doing great already. Don’t worry.


I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert on distance running, but I had some success in high school (4:39 mile was my best time). In college, I played basketball, and I was still able to run a 5:10 mile while focusing significantly more on lifting. Like others have said, while distance running and lifting don’t always go hand-in-hand, you should be able to make strides in both at the same time if you really put in the work.

I’d recommend at least one tempo run greater than two miles each week. The longer you can run, the more comfortable you’ll feel with shorter distances. So if you’re currently around 13:30-14 for two miles, I’d try to run three miles at a slightly slower pace–maybe something around 23-24 minutes. While I don’t think it’s necessary to run 4 or 5 miles with your particular goal, you could do the occasional longer, slower run, as well.

In terms of workouts on the track, I’d stick with distances between 200 and 800 meters. Short sprints are great, but you need to be able to run at a pretty decent pace for a relatively long time to meet your goal. I might try something like 6x400m at your mile pace–probably something around 6 minutes, or 90 seconds each lap–with two minutes of rest between runs.

Other good track workouts:

3x600m at current mile pace with three minutes rest
6x300m at goal mile pace (slightly faster) with one minute rest
3x800m at goal two mile pace with two-three minutes rest
12x200m at goal two mile pace with 30 seconds rest

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.


OP, you’re obviously in shape and young so don’t complicate this or let your ego get in the way. Train hard with the weights till six weeks or so out of your PT test then shift your focus to running. Afterwards go back to a weights focus and I promise you you’ll get back to PR’s before you can believe it.