What to Do on Your Run-Strength Combo Day
Complete a dynamic warm-up for five minutes, then hop on a treadmill and run for 20 minutes—depending on your level and how you feel that day, you could make this run another progression effort, a fartlek effort where you pick up your pace for 1 to 2 minutes every five minutes, or just a steady pace run. Step off the treadmill and immediately start a 20-minute ancillary strength session.
Johnson recommends exercises such as the Turkish Get Up, kettlebell exercises and a plank session where you transition from holding a regular plank (torso facing the ground) to a side plank to a supine plank (torso facing the sky) to a side plank on the other side. Vary these exercises according to your level by not using weights or using extremely light weights, and by holding the planks for as long as you can with good form—you can even take short breaks between the planks as you build your endurance.
Following the program above, Johnson asserts that runners should be able to complete an easy-paced 5K once a month or even every other weekend. However, if your goal is to improve as a runner and possibly run a faster 5K, you'll need to spend your time more focused on run training.
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Goal #2: To Become a Better Runner
If your goal is to improve as a runner, or if you'd like to run a faster 5K, 10K or shorter race, it's preferable to spend your limited time running.
"As Ryan Hall said, 'Keep the main thing the main thing,'" says Dennis Barker, USATF-certified Level 2 distance and sprint coach, and head coach of Team USA Minnesota, an elite group of professional runners, including Olympians and national champions. "If you want to be a runner, the number one thing is running. If you have 45 minutes three or four times a week, make sure you get your running in."
Barker suggests running at different paces, up and down hills and on different terrain not only to keep things interesting, but also to work different muscles and systems of the body. For example, a steady-paced run (after a warm-up, maintaining the same even effort) works the aerobic or cardiovascular system and slow-twitch muscles, and a hill-sprint session is usually an anaerobic effort that recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers. Essentially, getting both types of stimuli will make you a more fit, well-rounded runner.