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I followed the Couch-to-5K training program several months ago in preparation for a 5K race but have not run at all since then. I'd like to get back into it by doing Couch-to-5K again. I'm doing StrongLifts 5x5 now, though, and wasn't doing any kind of strength training the last time I trained for a 5K (nor for a few years before that).

I've been on StrongLifts for about 8 weeks now with no stalling yet and would like to follow both programs concurrently without one causing problems for the other (or at least minimizing the impact). Both are 3-day-per-week programs, so I'm unsure of how to best schedule them.

Am I better off doing StrongLifts in the mornings and Couch-to-5K in the evenings on the same days, or alternating days between StrongLifts and Couch-to-5K? Is there another another arrangement that might be better?

  • Does StrongLifts contain a lot of leg training as well? – Ivo Flipse Nov 29 '11 at 17:42
  • @IvoFlipse StrongLifts has you doing squats as your first lift, on every lifting day. – mike Nov 29 '11 at 18:10
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    I asked this question a while ago, which is kind of related: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/1413/… -- I've since then settled into a three days a week routine with 5K (20 to 25 minutes) followed by thorough stretching (10 to 20 minutes) followed by StrongLifts 5X5. I've found that running first works best for me, possibly at the "price" of progressing a little slower with the weights than I potentially could have without running 5Ks just prior – user240 Nov 30 '11 at 5:34
  • I actually believe you should do cardio (especially running) BEFORE weights. After weights you are tight. Running when you are tight can lead to a degraded stride or change in form/gait. Both of these can lead to possible injury. If you do run after the weights, ensure you are hydrated and stretched before running. – ngramsky Dec 1 '11 at 4:49
  • I run 3 days a week and do stronglifts 3 days a week. No idea if i'm causing issue to either. Don't really care really as i feel stronger and fitter than i have in years. In fact many guides to running recommend doing strength training to improve running. – Ange Jul 30 '12 at 5:30
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If you are on StrongLifts 5x5, a beginner program, then the problems associated with endurance training and max effort training won't be severe enough to worry about. First, a 5K takes less than an hour to complete. Second, you haven't gotten to the place in your training where you really have to choose which way you need to go.

Now, to keep your 5K training more in line with weightlifting in general, focus on interval training between running and jogging. But you should be fine right now.

  • Keep the Couch-2-5K training after lifting.
  • Manage your recovery, and if necessary get a quick carb to replenish energy before switching gears
  • Hi Berin , stronglifts 5x5 or starting strength both are beginers programs. 3 day split programs , but both emphasize on a rest/recovery day in between. for an unfit/overweight person a c2-5k itself is high intensity. Does one do the running on alternate days of weights? if you take a 3 day split of weights.. or just cram the running schedule after weights and leave the rest day for complete rest and do nothing on those days. IMHO rest days are for muscle recovery, but i am not sure if muscle recovery times for running vs weights is any different . – Aditya P Aug 28 '13 at 3:25
  • The most important thing is not to overthink it. If your C2-5K program has you doing a run every other day, one week it will be after lifting and the other it will be on the days between lifting. In either case, you have to manage recovery. You'll discover rather quickly which works better for you individually. Low intensity jogging/walking is a pretty good active recovery option, which is something to keep in mind. – Berin Loritsch Aug 28 '13 at 12:04
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Couch-to-5k isn't a super strenuous program so you should be fine doing them same day if you like. Most seem to recommend doing weight training first before cardio though if you have the option. Alternate days would probably be the best since the running/walking would help work out some of the soreness from squats. Just be sure to account for the cardio in your calories to make sure you are eating enough.

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Jim Schmitz, former Olympic lifting coach offers good insights here.

The other factors of running that might influence your lifting are the volume and intensity of your running. Sprints can be more stressful than jogging and long distances are more depleting than both. Running hills, stairs or cross country is the most demanding and will definitely fatigue your legs a lot. Whichever form of running you do, all can affect your lifting depending on how fast, hard, and long you run. So be aware—if you want to lift heavy the next day, run easy to medium the day before.

He also talks about backing off on either prior to competition, or when hitting PRs... in which case, when you're in the advanced phase of SL 5x5 (nearing 300lb squats) you'll probably want to dial back the running if you want to progress on the lifts.

Running won’t adversely affect your weightlifting—and vice versa—provided you do it intelligently and systematically, and both are definitely beneficial for overall strength and health. Remember, though, if you are peaking for a competition (or planning workouts for some PRs), taper off your running—or weightlifting, if that’s the case—as the competition date draws near.

If you're using the app with SL 5x5, it'll auto deload the weight for you if you fail to lift it three workouts in a row. It also tracks your progression. Remember that even the best trainers can't make predictions for you: You know YOU better than anybody else. My recommendation is if you find yourself deloading fairly frequently on squats/DL but aren't near a 250-300lb squat or 300lb DL first look at your diet: Are you actually eating enough calories and protein for your muscles to build? Are you getting 8hrs of sleep? Getting these wrong will hurt you far more than a little cardio. If you ARE getting these things, are you sure your lifting technique is correct? If not that, THEN maybe look at running less frequently or try Jim's suggestion on interval training as a replacement for C25K:

Interval training— where you run for a certain distance or time and then walk for a certain distance or time—is a great running method for weightlifters. I have found interval training to be tremendous for developing one’s cardiovascular fitness, which then helps your recovery from weightlifting workouts. I have also found that running 20 to 30 minutes (or 2 to 3 miles) two to three times a week on non-workout days, or after light-to-medium weightlifting workouts, has no adverse effect on one’s lifting.

C25K as I recall, is exactly that: interval training working up to Running 20 to 30 minutes. If you keep it on off-days, I think you'll be fine. Adjust diet, sleep, and technique first on your lifts.

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