Have you ever felt like you had two WILDLY different goals in the fitness realm? Like, you want to run a marathon, but you also want to lift really really heavy weights?
That's been me, more times than I can count. (by the way - this is Coach Sabrina!)
Here's what I've learned while trying to be a powerlifter and also a long-distance runner:
1. You can't be great at both of them at the same time unless you have incredible genes to support it - but I'm sorry to tell you...you probably don't.
2. You can however be good at both of them at the same time. But it likely won't feel like it's good enough if you've been GREAT at any point in the past - as your measurement of "good" will be skewed. (If you've run 26.2 miles, being able to run 5 miles with ease just may not feel good enough.)
3. You CAN maintain one while improving the other. If you can accept that, you can actually be happy with where you are in both goals.
My experience with #3, which I'm currently living in, is pretty great compared to the other 2. Let me tell you about what I've been doing!
(If you'd like to hear about my experiences with situations 1 & 2, I'll tell you, but please trust me that #3 has been a MUCH BETTER solution, and my desire to live through 1 or 2 again ranks even lower than my desire to rewind time to March 2020.)
Recently, I prioritized lifting like so:
All winter, I ran 2 days per week, with my 2 dogs. They were slow, there were walk breaks, they weren't ever more than 2-3 miles long, and my goal was just to maintain the ability to do those miles without injury (and wear out my dogs).
I focused MUCH more heavily on my lifting sessions and increasing my weights in the gym. I typically spent 4 hours lifting and 1.5 hours running each week.* Basically TWICE as much lifting as running.
Since spring began, I've swapped the goals and focused on running, trying to get my endurance built back up. But I REALLY don't want to lose all my strength when it comes to my beloved barbells.
So, here's how I'm tackling that:
For the past 6-ish weeks, I've run 3 or 4 days per week. The runs with my pooches have gotten longer, and the runs without them are faster and have few (or no) walk breaks.
I'm still lifting the same days per week, BUT I've cut the length of those sessions in half and reduced them to ONLY my big lifts, rather than a well-rounded full-body session.
So instead of 4, I'm now at 2 hours of lifting -- and 3 hours of running instead of 1.5.* That's not quite twice as much running, but it could progress to that if I start to want to do more/longer runs.
And it's working! Running is improving, and my barbell lifts are being maintained.
(In fact, the only battle I have is my ego when I'm lifting, which always expects to increase the weight each week.)
It all comes down to prioritization, and I like to use the idea that "Some days you push, some days you just move."
Normally I use this quote on the days a client is under-slept, super stressed, maybe kiddo got sick at 2 am - that's a day to "just move" and call it enough. But on a day when all cylinders are firing, and there's plenty of mental & physical energy - that's a day to push.
So for my two conflicting goals, all of my running workouts are a day to push, and all of my lifting workouts are a day to move.
In the past, I have tried to push on all of the days, and that just plain doesn't work, mentally or physically.
I'm loosely seasonal with swapping my goals, as I've learned this is what works best for me, via much trial & error.
I'll probably prioritize lifting during July/August when the heat makes running miserable, then I'll flip back to running again for a few months when fall coolness kicks in.
CAVEAT: I'm not trying to do extreme things with either of these. I'm not signed up for a marathon (nor am I likely to ever be again) and I'm not considering any powerlifting meets. If I wanted to do either of those things, experience has shown me that rather than a 2:1 ratio of time spent, it has to be more like 4:1.
Since I'm just trying to be a little bit above the average Jane, aiming for 2:1 is working out pretty well.
So now is your chance to take the lessons I've learned, and apply them to your own conflicting goals.
How can you prioritize one into your PUSH goal, and one into your JUST MOVE goal, for the time being?
Which one are you okay with maintaining, while you pursue the other one?
After you dial into a plan that seems to be working for you, consider a plan for when you will swap the goals around.
It could be related to the hours of sunshine in a day, your kids' activity schedules, some volunteer activities that peak for an event, or just when your brain craves the other...it could be anything, as long as it makes sense for you.
It also doesn't have to be fitness related at all. It could be nutrition-related, time management, family vs friend, home vs work, garden vs relaxing - things that compete for your time/energy in some way.
You only have 24 hours a day, which will literally NEVER be enough time for you to do it all. So, since where you spend your time & energy will always ebb and flow, this is one way for you to take charge and decide which one gets to do which!
*I just want to point out that if you saw my total workout hours and thought something along the lines of "OMG WTF I'm nowhere near that" - please please please don't think this way.
I work in a gym, I have no kids, and my only other hobby is reading. If you have kids, don't work in a gym, have active hobbies like skiing or walking the dog every morning, are involved with volunteering, have a squeaky clean house, etc - then trust me, you're kicking butt at numerous other things that I don't!