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When Should Runners Stop Strength Training?

Runners Stop Strength Training
Runners Stop Strength Training

We know that a good training regimen includes strengthening and stretching. But how much is too much? You don’t want to be sore on marathon day. Plus, there’s the risk of injury or pulled muscles with any exercise. So, when should runners stop strength training before their race? 

What happens when runners stop strength training?

When athletes taper before a race, the muscles recover and maintain gains for a couple of weeks. This recovery means the muscles get stronger for a little while. As a result, runners can see significant performance improvement even after stopping their strength training. 

When to Stop Strength Training

Before a marathon or triathlon, runners should taper strength training. You want to stop making gains and instead focus on injury prevention. Plus, the correct timing gives you an edge on race day. A meta-analysis from the American College of Sports Medicine says that some runners showed significant improvements with very short tapers of less than a week. In contrast, others reported improved performance for up to four weeks. Overall, the sweet spot is about two weeks before your race. 

How to Taper

There is a wide range of tapering strategies out there when it comes to race training. And different methods work for different athletes. The point is to decrease accumulated fatigue while enhancing physical performance. The same meta-analysis concludes that exponentially decreasing training volume for about two weeks is an “efficient strategy to maximize performance gains.”

Finding a Balance

In the end, runners need to balance between recovery and retaining performance gains. Each athlete is different, and the right program varies from person to person. Some runners stop strength training a week before the race. Others taper much earlier than that. For your custom running program with personalized feedback, schedule an appointment online today with our running specialist, Carley Schleien, PT, DPT. 

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