Training: Building a Plan

Balancing Cardio and Strength

assistant-wheelsLet’s say, hypothetically, that you didn’t have any races on the calendar, yet you wanted to get back into a training routine as if you did. And let’s say that you wanted this non-race-related training to involve both running and cycling for cardio, as well as a good measure of strength and stretching to keep everything balanced and healthy.

I can tell you right now: stop looking because it doesn’t exist.

I’ve searched high and low for training plans. Running plans don’t cut it, so I moved on to duathlon plans. Every duathlon plan that I found followed the same format: ride, run, ride, run and ride, run, ride, rest.

Notice what’s missing from all of these plans? Right: anything pertaining to strength or stretching.

So I’m gradually trying to build my own plan:

  • One day of rest per week
  • One day of ride plus strength (ride to gym)
  • Two days of riding
  • One brick day (riding and running)
  • One running day
  • One stretch day (Pilates)

Trick #1 is figuring out which order they should go in, and how far I should go on each day. Trick #2 is that I feel antsy when I don’t ride, so the stretch and running days may be harder for me than they sound.

Now, can I take a moment to brag? See that photo up there in the right hand corner? That’s the Tiny Coaching Assistant. On Saturday morning, the Assistant, the Husband and I went on a 12.2 mile bike ride. Granted, we stopped for breakfast about 5.5 miles into that journey, but still: the little guy willingly, happily rode for more than 12 milesĀ because it was his idea. He actually wanted to do a 19.5-mile roundtrip loop, but I cut him off at a distance that I knew he could handle. I’m so impressed with his love of the bicycle. He’s already gone more than 43 miles for the month of July, although he wants me to measure it in kilometers because “the number sounds more impressive.” (70 km)

Have you ever followed a duathlon plan? Did your program have non-cardio training built into it, or did you have to customize?

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3 Responses

  1. Lori says:

    I’ve always struggled with fitting strength into a training plan too. At least my beginner half-marathon plan has cross-training one or two days a week. The training plan for my group in Pensacola had only running. After a few weeks, I started replacing my Sunday recovery run with yoga because I could feel that I was losing core strength and really needed the deep stretching. I’m restarting the Stew Smith program, which has a little bit of bike or swim built in. (Week 3 is almost entirely bike or swim to give your legs a break. Which for me means all stationary bike.) (I originally typed that “stationery bike”. Oh yes, couldn’t I please just write about biking instead of actually doing it?) A couple of days per week have “leg PT” built into runs, stopping every 5 minutes during a long run or between intervals on the track to do squats and lunges. And once or twice a week, the warm up is 250 abs. So it’s well-rounded, at least as far as a running plan goes. I do add in arm strength on the shorter run days and do easy yoga on an off-day. (The program has 5 work outs per week.)

    By the way, on my to do list for Thursday: buy a bike. Notice it doesn’t say “and then ride it.” Baby steps.

  2. Kori says:

    Never followed a specific plan. Figuring out which workout works best for you was the hardest part in my weight loss journey. I like to do pilates, but before that I ran for miles until I injured my back, which forced me to try lower intense but effective exercises. Pilates with a cardio warm up does the trick for me. You look like you have a great plan set up for you. Great post!

  3. Alisa says:

    I’m a huge fan of Pilates, but I still feel like I need more days in the week to wedge in everything that I want to do for proper strength/stretching/cardio balance.

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