Training

Should You Strength Train On Hard Or Easy Days?

Our coach Hillary Kigar has the answer to this and all of your running questions!

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NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!

I typically run in the mornings, but sometimes I do post-work group runs with my friends instead. Is it bad to run in the evening and then again first thing the next morning?
You may feel a little less rested when you run in the morning after running the night before, but whenever you have the opportunity to run with friends, do it! The motivation and social time you get from a group is some-thing that simply should not be skipped.

To help your body feel better the next morning, remember to stretch after the group run, enjoy a post-workout snack and rehydrate completely before going to bed. Paying attention to your recovery will prevent you from waking up feeling stiff and groggy. If your legs feel tired regardless (or if your p.m. run was particularly challenging), take it easy in the a.m. by slowing down your pace or shortening the distance.

If I’m not hungry after a run, is it okay to skip a recovery snack? I’m trying to shed some pounds, but I hear it’s important.
What you have heard is correct! Post-run snacks are crucial. Every time you run, your muscles experience little micro-tears. This is totally normal, and depending on how long or hard you are running, there will be more or fewer tears. Your body will heal these tears on its own, however a post-run snack with protein and carbohydrates supports that rebuilding process.

The idea is that you want your muscles to repair so you are even stronger the next time you run. There are plenty of great low-calorie options, such as non-fat Greek yogurt, oatmeal, hummus with pita, banana and peanut butter, or my favorite—low-fat chocolate milk. You don’t have to have a big portion (roughly 10 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs will do the trick), but by refueling you ensure your next run can be longer or faster—and that will help you burn more calories.

Is it better to strength train on hard days or easy days?
The simple answer is to do your strength training when you feel physically and mentally prepared to do your best. That way, you’ll get the most out of the session. If you just had a great hard running workout, your legs are heavy and you just don’t feel motivated, it’s better to save the strength session for an easy day when you are feeling fresh.

On the other hand, it can be great to have an easy day that is totally easy. If that’s more your style, then pair your strength training with your hard days so that your easy runs are all about recharging. Scheduling and life activities can also be a big factor. Pick a day when you know that you will have plenty of time to get a quality strength session in so you don’t have to cut anything short before you rush back out the door.

Pro Tip: Find a track meet near you!
No matter how fast or slow you are, if you run, you are part of an amazing community. The next time you have a free weekend, find a high school or college track meet to spectate. You can also show up at a local road race and cheer or volunteer. As runners, it is important that we support and celebrate each other for our efforts—even if we’ve never met before. Whether you are watching the winner of a marathon cross the line after a lifetime of training or a freshman athlete running her first 1-mile race, the buzz and energy present at a race never fails to inspire.

Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email editorial@womensrunning.com or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.