The timing of when to perform strength work and when to run is an often pondered question.
Answering this mainly depends on how difficult the run is and how much residual fatigue will come from the strength session.
We will break the type of strength session into two categories
1) Sessions that do not induce fatigue or soreness.
2) Sessions that leave the body fatigued
The type of session will determine when the most appropriate time to perform it is.
1) Easy Lifting & Strength Work
This category can include anything from lunges, squat jumps, push-ups, to high rep low weight squats and bench presses. Basically, anything that will not leave you with delayed onset muscle soreness, which could negatively affect proceeding runs.
Non-fatiguing strength work before a run can help prepare the body for the following workout. Doing drills or lunges prior to a race or key workout can be done daily without any fatigue buildup.
2) Heavy Lifting & Dynamic Strength Work
These include activities such as heavy squats, deadlifts, and long drill sessions that are sure to leave your calves or legs sore the next day.
Many people prefer to lift on days that are rest or recovery from running. However, some would argue that it is more appropriate to lift heavy on the same day as a hard run, before these recovery days.
The reason for this is quite obvious. Lifting after a hard run is not going to affect the run, and the run will have minimal affect on the strength work. The key is that the next day is likely going to be a rest or easy day. Why not rest from a hard run and hard strength session at the same time?
Research has even suggested that aerobic work before lifting triggers a greater testosterone response in men, rather than doing it the other way around. This hopefully results in greater muscle growth and recovery to both the run and strength workouts.
Keep in Mind
Your body does not care about numbers. It does not matter to your leg muscles if you squat X pounds 10 times or if you can only manage 8 reps after the hard run. Effort and stimulus is what matter. Yes, stepping into the weight room after a run may leave your numbers a bit lower, but the mental and physical stimulus for adaptation is still there!
Plus, you get to follow it up with an easy running day :)
How have do you schedule your strength training around your run workouts?