Conflicting Fitness Goals: Half-Marathon vs. Getting Stronger

Running long(er) distances typically does not correspond with getting stronger. It’s sort of like losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. You have to pick one, focus on that, and then switch to the other.

For the last year or so my fitness routine has been stable, with an emphasis on strength training.

  • M, W, F – 1.5 to 2.0 mile jog as a warm up, followed by 45 to 75 minutes of strength training in the a.m.
  • T, Th – 2 to 2.5 mile interval run in the a.m., 90 minute hot yoga class in the p.m.
  • Sat – 4 mile run a.m., 90 min hot yoga class in the p.m.
  • Sun – recovery day, 90 min hot yoga class in the p.m.

With this programming, I’ve been slowly getting stronger and adding a bit of muscle, while holding my weight stable. My recovery has been good. My coach (the amazing Jen Cooper) would love for me to mass to really add some more muscle, but I’ve been comfortable with the tiny gains I’ve been making (and I still fear the fat gain that would be necessary for a real mass. I know logically she’s right, but I’m still not ready). I’ve also been getting a bit faster, as I started focusing on running cadence, increasing my average cadence from the 160’s to the mid 170’s. This has also improved my foot strike position, so overall my running just feels better. I love my milestone pod,which tracks all of these metrics. Apparently the ideal cadence is 180, which I’ve maintained on a handful of runs in the last few weeks.

For at least the last 6 months, I’ve largely been at maintenance in terms of my nutrition (I’m still following Precision Nutrition guidelines day to day) with one or two brief cut cycles to lean out a bit. If I’m actively cutting, I add some LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio (generally a very slow walk on the treadmill) in the evenings of weight training days while significantly tightening up my nutrition (typically following the Renaissance Periodization templates).

Selfie after finishing the half marathon

After Running the Snowman Stampede Half Marathon 2018

In late January, I was invited to run the Snowman Stampede half-marathon on February 24. I hadn’t run a half marathon since 2012 when I ran three of them.

  • 2:07:30 – February 5, 2012 in Tallahassee, FL
  • 2:06:29 – September 23, 2012 in Jackson Hole, WY
  • 2:05:15 – October 21, 2012 in Boulder, CO

With about 5 weeks to get ready, I started ramping up the mileage for my 3 primary runs a week. I did not cut back on my weight training until the day before the half-marathon. I did inadvertantly cut my hot yoga down to about three times a week versus my normal four. I simply needed more pure rest as the mileage ramped up.

Running Mileage: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – for the folks who care about such things – midweek runs were generally either intervals or cadence/race pace training, while the long runs were universally SLOGS to just get them done.

  • Week 1: 2.5, 4.0, 7.6
  • Week 2: 5, 4, 9
  • Week 3: 4, 7, 10
  • Week 4: 5, 8, 11
  • Week 5: 4, 4, half marathon

Amazingly it was my best time yet – 2:02:47 in frigid conditions.

Half Marathon Results

Snowman Stampede Half Marathon Results

Back to strength training! I will miss eating all the carbs.

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