Strength Training & Running – Help or Hindrance – Part 2

When combining both running and strength training it is important that;


  1. Both forms of training are functional

  2. The 2 are programmed together so that they complement each other, rather than hinder each other.


We have already covered in other articles elsewhere what exactly it means to be functional, in terms of running based training, and indeed we have even released an entire detailed book on it. In short, it isn’t setting off on 5km runs at a monotonous pace, but rather considers higher intensity running interspersed with rest times, takes into consideration the demands of acceleration, deceleration and changing directions, and as a result, running exercises are chosen accordingly.

Accelerating, decelerating and changing directions are vital to condition both from an injury reduction point of view - but also a general conditioning point of view - as covering a certain distance when including accelerations, decelerations and changes of direction, is considerably more physically taxing than simply covering the same distance heading in the same direction at a continual speed.


But now we must program the 2 together.


Generally speaking, the more powerful and explosive the work that you are going to be doing, the fresher you want to be doing it. This means that explosive jumping and power exercises like the lunge-step-jumps would be best programmed early in the week, rather than later in the week when residual fatigue has started to build up.


The table below is taken from Agility, Speed & Conditioning for Aussie Rules, and specifically is taken from the program section in January once club training has re-started. Club training will obviously be of a running and skills based nature, so in this layout Tuesday and Thursday are considered running sessions, where your coach hopefully has you doing specific and functional forms of running conditioning.

















Conditioning (individual)



In the case of this weekly layout, we would have our explosive work, and the targeted single leg work included in that Monday session. That is, the steps ups and lunge variations as well as the plyometric versions, would be completed in Monday while (hopefully) feeling fresh. Running based work can still achieve a lot with some residual fatigue from the previous days strength training (certainly better than the other way around – maximal strength and power work will be greatly hindered if it is the day after running based training.) Indeed, this running based work will also benefit a little from some of the fatigue of the previous day, as your legs will have to learn to cope with a certain degree of overload, and a stress that they normally will not be under in normal match conditions (where you will start the game with fresh legs, because you haven’t done any strength work for at least a couple full days.)

Again, there are several ways to lay out a week, and it will also depend on what nights club training is on, as well as what your program looks like, in terms of what types of running and strength you are doing, based on what your goals are and what your current ability level is.


The take home here is to remember that running and strength training are not separate, they are part of the same holistic program, and they have the same general end goal in mind. Always consider how the 2 are impacting on each other, and lay out your week accordingly. Understand that your strength training should enhance your running ability too. If it doesn’t, you need to reconsider what you are doing, as after all, the ability to move around well is the primary movement in footy.


We are only scratching the surface of a very detailed topic here. In trying to keep a detailed topic as short as possible, we leave out plenty of important information, and it is hard to compress these into short articles. If you are interested in more detail on the topic of combining strength and running training together, this is one of the topics that is laid out in a lot more detail in Agility, Speed & Conditioning for Aussie Rules.


But in short, remember to always ask yourself what you are aiming to improve in specifically from what you are doing in any one session, and always consider how that session and the results from it will impact your other training. Because far from ‘running’ and ‘weights’ being 2 independent and separate things, they must be looked at together in conjunction, as a unified approach.


Strength Coach


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