Running alone can be time-consuming enough. When it comes to strength training and mobility work, it can feel daunting to find the extra time to fit them into your schedule. For some runners, a solution to this problem is to create a short post run routine that includes a small amount of strength and mobility work.
Is it better to run before or after a workout?
Heavy weight training is likely best done separately from a run. After a run, your muscles may be fatigued in a manner that compromises lifting form. (That said, if it’s the only time you can fit in lifting, then it is better than never lifting.)
However, you can still fit in a workout after a run. Most runners benefit from both heavy weight lifting and from prehab-style workouts that target smaller muscle groups, such as the hips and core. These workouts can be done after a run.
Benefits of Workouts after running
For many runners, doing small muscle group strength workouts after a run helps them stay consistent. It can be so easy to forget to do those few exercises. However, if you add them on after runs, you are more likely to create a habit that promotes consistency. These exercises are the most beneficial when done consistently.
Of course, all of these exercises can be done before running. Some runners find that adding them to their pre-run warm-up is beneficial for consistency.
The best post run workout
What is the best post run workout? The one you do the most consistently. A post run strength workout or mobility routine is only beneficial when done consistently.
That said, many runners have weak areas. For you individually, the best post run workout might target your weak areas. For example, if you have weak hips, you will benefit from a 5-10 minute workout after running that targets the hip muscles.
If you have been assigned exercises by a physical therapist, then your best post run workout may be those exercises! After a run can be a beneficial time to establish a routine of doing PT exercises.
The sample post run workouts listed below are just some of many possible workouts. You can do a post run workout targeting the calf and Achilles, trunk muscles, or other areas. Some runners like post-run yoga routines to cool down after a run.
Related: A Guide to Yoga For Runners
Post run workout for: weak hips
If you experience IT band syndrome or runner’s knee, you may have weak hips. Likewise, if you notice a visible hip drop (one hip lower than the other when your foot contacts the ground), your hip stabilizers may be weak. Many, many runners fall into this category.
The hip muscles include the glute medius, glute minimus, glute maximus, adductor group, iliopsoas, piriformis, rectus femoris, and biceps femoris. These muscles are responsible for flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, and internal/external rotation of the hip joint. To improve your hip strength, you want to target all of these muscles.
This is a sample post run workout for hip strength. For this type of rep scheme, complete two to three sets:
- 12-15 per side banded clamshells
- 12-15 per side side-lying leg lifts (foot pointed toward ground so that hip is internally rotated)
- 10-12 glute bridges (or single leg glute bridges)
- 10-12 banded hip marches
- 20 sec/side adductor side plank
Post run workout for: ultra runners
If you are training for an ultra marathon (or even a 5-6 hour marathon), you are already spending so much time running. Time and energy may be limited for long strength training workouts. A short 5-10 minute post-run routine can provide sufficient strength work, without adding too much additional training fatigue.
One of the best post run workouts for ultra runners out there is the mountain legs routine from SWAP running. This short routine targets the major muscle groups in the legs, in a manner specific to trail running. You can find the 3-minute Mountain Legs routine here.
Post run workout for: mobility
If you lift multiple times per week, you may not need a strength-focused post run workout. Instead, you may benefit from a short session focused on mobility.
When doing mobility exercises, it is important to move deliberately and fluidly. Avoid pushing past a comfortable range of motion; if you feel pain, stop.
A sample mobility workout after running:
- 8-10 cat-cows
- 5/side quadruped hip controlled articular rotations (CARs)
- 8-10/side quadruped thoracic spine rotations
- 8-10/side adductor rockbacks
- 6-8/side hip airplanes
Tips for combining strength training and running
Creating a short post run routine focused on strength and mobility is one approach to combining strength training and running. There are other approaches – so if a workout after a run does not work for you, you can still find other ways to combine strength training and running.
Some other approaches include:
- Lifting in the afternoon/evening after a morning run
- Running 4-5 days per week and lifting 1-2 days per week on non-run days (the seventh day is a rest day)
- Lifting weights before an easy run
- Lifting weights after an easy run
Post Run Workouts, Recapped
Post run workouts are not necessary – it is absolutely okay to finish your run and start your recovery process. However, for many runners, post run workouts can help them stay consistent with strength or mobility workouts. A post run workout does not need to be long – even five to ten minutes can be effective, especially if you do the routine consistently.
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