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Customizing P90X For Running

Steve Edwards
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Running is the most popular form of exercise in the world. So it should come as no surprise that explaining how to incorporate our exercise programs into someone's running schedule is one of the most popular requests we get here at Beachbody. Today we'll look at how to create a program that gives you the benefits of P90X without compromising your ability to set a personal record (PR) in your local marathon.


Woman Running

This article is part of a series on customizing P90X, and it will benefit you most if you'll take some time to read through each of the preceding articles. (See the Related Articles section below.) After all, what's 30 minutes of your time if you're going to spend the next 3 months training like a Spartan? Most importantly, read the last article (Part V), because it talks about structuring a yearly schedule. P90X is not training for running. But if you strategize correctly, it'll help your running improve.

What type of running?

Of course, the word run means very different things to different kinds of runners. Usain Bolt and Yiannis Kouros may both be running, but the physiological challenges they face could not be more different. Bolt, as you probably know, holds the world record for the 100 meters. Kouros holds records for distances from 100 to 1,000 miles. Most of us lie somewhere in between these extremes, so we'll focus on the more popular "distance running" distances, from the 10K to the marathon, for which training is similar.

This article will not discuss what to do for you running. That's what your running coach is for. Instead, we'll look at how to structure P90X around your current workout schedule, and when to alter it.

The perfect schedule

In the last article I discussed the off-season approach. This is when you should do your non-sports-specific training. Since all athletes can benefit from taking a break from their sport each year, the best case would be for you to stop running and just do P90X. After completing P90X, you would then combine your early-season running training with a maintenance schedule of P90X, which would flip-flop over time. As you got closer to your objectives for the year, you'd run more and do less X training, until you finally moved into a phase where you'd only be running.

But life is rarely perfect, and very few of us can carve our schedules into neat training blocks. This means multitasking. Most of us will likely find ourselves in a situation where we need to look as good as we can for a class reunion in July and are still trying to get a PR in an August marathon. That's the kind of scenario we'll address today.

Foundation

Given that you've probably already been running, P90X is your foundation program for your running. This means that you should only begin the program if you have time to structure it properly. If you're within a few months of an important race objective, you'll be much better off waiting until after you're finished to begin P90X.

Periodization

Man RunningIf you're unfamiliar with this term, read the previous articles. Your running training should follow a similar approach to P90X in that it should be laid out in phases. Unfortunately, most people don't really do this on their own, and if you don't employ a coach, this is likely to be the case with you. And that's cool, because you're about to get a periodizational schedule to use.

In the simplest sense, your running should target your weaknesses well before your scheduled objectives, and then bring your strengths into form close to race time. Your X schedule will do this to a degree, because that's how it's designed as a program: to force adaptation early on, with results showing up later as you master the exercises.

Unlike the normal P90X schedule, which you should do if you have the time, today's example will sacrifice some of the ultimate goals of the classic X schedule in order for you to adapt more quickly and to leave you with more energy for the higher volume of running you'll be doing later in the program.

Recovery

The schedule laid out here is intense, as most doubles schedules are. Keep in mind that no schedule is worth overtraining for. If it's too much, back off and restructure it to fit your current state of fitness.

Putting it all together

This schedule is just one example. You'll need to adjust yours around your schedule. But this model should fit for most of you trying to get the most out of both your running and P90X. It's important to remember that while you're training for running, your speed will likely decrease. This is because you're creating muscular breakdown in order to improve your capacity to run faster later on. This means you'll be slower early in the program, but once your recover and convert your new strength into running speed, you'll be faster.

Block 1 (Weeks 1 through 3)

  • Day 1: Chest & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch

Note: No running in the first block is by design. For aerobic work, keep your heart rate way below threshold.

Recovery/Transition Week

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Legs & Back
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Long aerobic hike or easy run and X Stretch or Yoga X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch

Note: Not a traditional recovery week. An endurance athlete tends to have a different base and should be stressed differently. While the intensity of the first month should be high, the volume is low compared to how much many people run.

Block 2 (Weeks 5 through 7)

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Long run and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch

Note: The easy runs should be aerobic. The longer run can have some amount of tempo intervals, but should still be considered base mileage.

Recovery/Transition Week

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Easy run and X Stretch
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Easy run and X Stretch
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Long aerobic hike or easy run and X Stretch or Yoga X
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch

Note: This should feel like a true recovery week.

Block 3 (Weeks 9 and 11)

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X, and run workout
  • Day 2: Plyometrics and recovery run
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X, and run workout
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X, and recovery run
  • Day 6: Run workout and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest and/or X Stretch

Block 3 (Weeks 10 and 12)

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics and run workout
  • Day 2: Cardio X and run workout
  • Day 3: Ab Ripper X and run workout
  • Day 4: Yoga X and run workout
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Run workout and X Stretch
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic hike and/or X Stretch

Note: "Run workout" denotes whatever your coach or your own running dictates. It doesn't necessarily mean a hard running workout. "Easy run" means subthreshold throughout. This should be followed with a true recovery period of yoga, stretching, and easy runs. Follow this with a rigorous running training block that ends with enough time so you can taper off for your event—usually 2 weeks.

Remember, don't be afraid to experiment. Your perfect schedule is personal. If something doesn't feel like it's working, don't hesitate to change it. However, it's also important that you let your program work. As I said before, as you're training, you'll get slower before you get faster. Changing your program so this doesn't happen will not allow the physiological adaptation to occur that will improve your speed later on.

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