Heading into the summer months, it’s not unusual to see fitness content on all your social media feeds. TikTok is pushing running on me at the moment, and it’s making me — an avid non-runner — question for the first time whether it could be for me.
Lucy Davis embraced running just over a year ago, and look at her now. She jumped in right at the deep end, signing up for a 100km ultramarathon. What was particularly impressive about it was how she kept up with her strength training alongside it. Luckily for us, she’s happy to share her knowledge.
On Tuesday mornings, while many of us are still snoozing through our alarms, Lucy is already hitting the road doing her early morning 10k.
Tuesday is also the day Lucy trains her upper body. Here’s her workout:
- Grab a dumbbell in each hand and sit back against an incline bench.
- Begin with the dumbbells resting on your knees, then kick them up to shoulder height using your knees.
- Ensure your biceps are in line with your shoulders.
- Focus on the shoulder muscles and drive the dumbbells up over your head until they meet in the middle.
- Bend your arm at the elbow until your return to the starting position.
Dumbbell single arm row
- Grab a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Hinge at the hips and bend over until your back is straight.
- Place your left hand on the bench for support and step forward on your left leg.
- Begin with your right hand hanging in front of you.
- Use your back muscles to lift the dumbbell towards your body and bring your elbow in to your waist.
- Swap hands and repeat.
Dumbbell flat chest press
- Lie back against a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Ensure your feet are planted firmly on the floor for your stability.
- Begin with your arms straight (but not locked) so they dumbbells are above your chest.
- Bend your arms at your elbows allowing your elbows to flare away from your body.
- Continue to lower the dumbbells until they are in line with your chest.
- Drive them back up until they return to the starting position.
- Place your hands on the floor, roughly shoulder-width apart.
- Begin with your arms straight, supporting most of your weight with your body and legs straight, using your toes for support.
- Bend your arms at your elbows until your chest touches the floor.
- Drive through your chest muscles to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
Reps: 10 & 10
Dumbbell single arm push press
- Begin stood up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell racked above on your shoulder.
- Bend your knees slightly as you push the dumbbell up until your arm is straight.
- Hold the dumbbell up so that your palm is facing inwards.
- Slowly drop the dumbbell until it returns to the starting position.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Begin with your hands by your side, palms facing your body.
- Lift the dumbbells up until they are in line with your shoulders and your palms are facing the floor.
- Slowly release the movement until your hands return to your sides.
As I said, Lucy doesn’t gatekeep. Here are her top tips for balancing running and weight training:
One of the most vital aspects of any training regime: nutrition. We’ve all heard the sayings — "food is fuel”,”gains are made in the kitchen”, etc — so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most important factor when focusing on running and weightlifting is the fuel you put into your body. Naturally, when doing any form of exercise, you use a lot of energy. So when you’re doing twice the amount of exercise, you'll need twice as much energy.
Lucy recommends avoiding a calorie deficit while training as a hybrid athlete because you simply won’t have enough energy. At a minimum aim for a calorie maintenance. Or if you want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible, operate in a calorie surplus with plenty of protein consumption.
Strength training should complement your running.
Running with a love for strength training can actually improve your performance, especially if you do single-leg exercises.
Running is a unilateral sport that requires you to put one leg in front of the other, so by focusing on unilateral exercises you can improve motor control in each leg and your stability.
Some of Lucy’s favourite unilateral exercises include:
- Split squats
- Pistol squats
- Single leg hip thrusts
Plan your week
Not everyone is a natural planner, and sometimes you need to wake up and listen to what your body’s telling you. But a rough plan can be helpful. For example, you might want to avoid running after leg day — for obvious reasons.
Recovery is vital for your performance, particularly when balancing weight training and running. Both forms of exercise take a toll on your body, so you need to rest properly. This can involve some trial and error, but sleep, protein, and plenty of rest are good places to start.
It feels kind of obvious to say, since no one wants to be injured, but you might not consider the toll that running will take on your feet before you start. Be prepared and invest in a proper pair of running trainers. Even better, consult a gait specialist to make sure you have the right shoes and insoles to support your feet and your running style.
Take Home Message
With plenty of protein, a well-planned week, and appropriate footwear, you should be well on the way to finding the perfect balance between running and weightlifting.
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