Running and P90X: the perfect match?

16 Mar

Currently I am on week 6 of P90X and training for a half-marathon.  Somehow I always thought strength training and training well for a race were somehow mutually exclusive.  I thought that I could throw some strength training in here and there…but my main focus had to be running.  I’ve also always thought that I had to run a minimum of 4 days a week.  Well, all of these perceptions changed when I decided to do my combo P90X/half-marathon training.  I’ve been surprised and delighted at how hand-in-hand it has been working so far.

Why am I doing this?

Well, I initially was doing P90X and was just finishing phase 2 when Adam wanted to start over to join in.  (Adam started with me but is in his last year of med school – things have been beyond hectic for him).  With his schedule more free, the idea of a workout buddy again was appealing.  I agreed to abandon my first round and begin “round 2” or really more appropriate “round 1.5”.  The same week of starting “round 2”, my lunchtime running buddies were discussing their upcoming half-marathons.  Up to this point I had been on the fence about doing the mini.  I did it last year with less than stellar results and more importantly I had to pull out of a different half in October due to knee problems (not really resolved). I thought for sure it was too late and I had too little time to train appropriately (especially given my knees).  Well – a quick google search showed me that not only was the race not sold out, many people train doing 10, 11, or 12 week programs.  I still had plenty of time!

I mulled it over, still unsure.  I asked Adam if he would be joining me if I signed up.  He said he’d think about it.  Hmm.  I thought about it for another few days.  After googling P90X and running, I took the plunge and signed up (what a thrilling moment!).  I found several examples of folks who successfully trained for marathons while doing P90X – surely I could do it with a half!

I told Adam what I had done secretly hoping he’d say “Oh good!  Me too, me too!  I want to sign up.”  That wasn’t exactly how it went down.  It was more like “Babe, I’m so proud of you!  This will be so good for you!”  The lack of “we” made my heart sink a bit.  Point blank I figured I should ask “Are you doing it with me?”  I knew the answer – it’s the weekend before graduation from med school…not great timing.  He confirmed my suspicion with a “No I really don’t think I can…it’s just going to be so busy.”   That evening I was pretty bummed out, but by morning I felt super empowered!  I hadn’t done a race on my own in quite some time and that’s how I started out running: alone.  This was my chance to return to my roots!

The only catch with this brilliant race plan: I had already committed to P90X.  I told Adam that P90X would be my priority and my running would have a more secondary focus.  I.e. I’m not going to give up a P90X video to go for a run.  Once the priorities were straight in my head I knew what I had to do: map it out.  I found a training plan, made some modifications, and mapped it out on the good ol’ shared google calendar.  It was a lot – but not too much.  I knew it was doable and I could be successful.  Fast forward 5 weeks and I’ve been delighted at my hybrid training.  Absolutely delighted.

What does my training look like?

  • Running:
    • I run three days a week.  Two of those days are 3 and 4 mile runs.  I do these at lunch with co-workers…meaning I probably won’t ever get above 4 miles for my midweek runs.  Prior to signing up I had been running with co-workers through the winter so I had some conditioning left over.
    • I do a long run every weekend.  For example, this week is: Tue- 3, Wed- 4, Sat- 8.
  • P90X:
    • I do P90X a minimum 6 days a week (7 when I can).
    • Adam and I do the videos first thing in the morning (around 6 or 6:30, sometimes earlier if needed). We settled on doing them in the morning due to other evening commitments.  At first I hated it.  But now it’s awesome getting it done and out of the way.
    • We do P90X typically in the order prescribed, though sometimes we might make some slight switches due to commitments.  For example we switched Kenpo and Yoga this week because we have more time Sunday to do the 1.5 hour video.

How have I liked it?

There are not enough words to express how much I have enjoyed this training method.  P90X has made me sooo much stronger, and it is really showing in my runs.  I used to think of 9:30 as a fast run… now 8:30 is a fast run.  I also feel better when running, just stronger and more fit.  I don’t feel like I’m dragging as much.   I also feel less prone to injury.  Being in great shape makes me feel like I’m a little more protected from over-use injuries.  I have been downright shocked at how much my running has improved.  It’s likely not 100% P90X, but still a huge portion.

Is it doable?

Absolutely.  I have found this far more manageable than anticipated.  I love the dual training, and I really am looking forward to my mini in May.  I don’t want to put pressure on myself, but I think I might be able to break 2 hours (fingers crossed).  More importantly, I think I will have a great race: a happy race!  As the runs get longer, they will undoubtedly get trickier to fit into my schedule, but I’m confident that with good planning I can make it work.

Tips if you’re planning on training for a race while doing P90X:

  • Plan ahead.  Make sure you have your schedule mapped out and know what you’re doing when.
  • Don’t miss a workout.  If you skip a workout with the idea of “doing it later”, it’s super challenging to find the time to squeeze it back in.  When double training, you don’t have the time to miss a workout from either plan.
  • Eat more on the days you are running – I add an extra fruit and extra snack on these days to ensure I have enough fuel.
  • Take stretching and yoga seriously.  With all this training you need to keep your body injury free: yoga and stretching are fantastic ways to do this.
  • Believe in yourself – it can be done it, just takes commitment and persistence.
  • Do mini races as a part of long runs on the weekends. I did my 10K last weekend which turned my long run into a fun event.  This weekend Adam and I are doing a shamrock shuffle as a part of my 8-miler.  This makes it feel less like training and more like something fun I’m doing on the weekends.
  • Just bring it!

Happy running!


Have you ever trained for 2 different things at once?  Was it successful?

13 Responses to “Running and P90X: the perfect match?”

  1. zeelemons July 10, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    I’m training for my first half-marathon after taking a year off following minor heart surgery. I’ve never done p90x but my friend burned me a copy and I’m tempted to do both! I’ve heard that you are super sore and fear that it will slow my pace- any input?

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 10, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      I actually loved training for a half while doing P90X. I found that it really increased my pace and made me much stronger. However, I did the half at the very end of P90X… so I was sort of through the “I’m sore” beginning phase. If your half is a ways out and you’ll have time to adjust to P90X I’d definitely recommend it. I was surprised how much P90X helped my running. Though if you’re getting close to crunch time and are worried about overwhelming your body it might be a good idea to wait until afterwards. Good luck!

      • zeelemons July 10, 2013 at 11:18 am #

        thanks! my race isn’t until Sept 15th so I’ve got about 9 weeks to go! I was thinking about ordering the T25- same people, just a 25 minute workout instead of an hour. we shall see which one I choose!

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 10, 2013 at 11:27 am #

          Yeah I’ve heard T25 is also a great option! I’m not sure how much strength training is involved with that one (I think it’s the toning muscle that helped my pace), but I’m guessing you’ll be great with either option as T25 will probably get you very conditioned too. Have fun! :)

  2. Angel August 13, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks so much for sharing! Did you run on days when P90X only focuses on strength (e.g. chest & back, shoulders & arms) so that you don’t tire your legs too much before you run? If not, which days did you choose to run?
    I’m currently doing P90X too and just signed up for a half marathon (in 2 months time) today… :S I’m the same as you, I don’t want to give up P90X but at the same time I want to incorporate enough training for the half marathon.. so your advise will be extremely helpful :)
    Thanks a lot :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 14, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      Hi there! Happy to share :) I typically ran on days that I lifted – so ideally on Mon/Wed when I was doing arm workouts. However that was not always the case. Sometimes I ended up running on plyo or leg days – yikes. It was definitely a challenge, but not unbearable. I found it to be doable, especially if you’re motivated to make it happen! The key for me was keeping it to running only 3 days a week. I did 2 short runs (3 -4 miles, typically Mon and Wed) and 1 long run on the weekend (typically tried to do it not the day after legs/back when I got into mileage above 8 miles, before that mileage I just sort of powered through). I was very nervous that running this “little” would have me ill-prepared, but I ran great and ended up PR-ing at my half-marathon. So from personal experience, I would say – yes it definitely can be done and I LOVED doing both. It made me stronger and faster. However, of course I’d consult a doc if you have any specific concerns and all that jazz. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions :)

      • Angel August 15, 2013 at 3:32 am #

        Hi Kelly! thanks so much for sharing. I just did my first day of the P90X & running combo yesterday. It’s manageable (wouldn’t say it’s easy tho =S) It took me 40 mins to do 4 miles, is that slow? I really hope I can stay motivated and improve my cardio as well as my time. I’m definitely going to follow your plan too and see how it goes. Thanks again :)

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings August 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

          I would agree – the combo is not the easiest… but it’s doable! And as far as pace, that’s not slow at all! And really, pace is such a personal thing. I have friends that are LOADS faster than me, and others who are slower. At the end of the day I’m racing against my personal best and just trying to get faster against myself. Good luck, I hope it goes well! :)

          • Michelle September 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

            OH MY GOSH! I am sooo happy that someone has actually tried doing this combo. I have been doing races all year and was toying w/doing a 1/2. Everything I read says do weights etc. So not knowing what specifically to do, thought I will try my P90X. I was concerned that this was not the right route to go. Im happy to know that Im not off in left field. Thanks so much for trying this. I am planning on doing a 1/2 in the spring so I have sufficient time for training.

            • kelly @ racesrepsramblings September 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

              Haha! I’m glad this is helpful!! I was shocked with how much I LOVED the combo. I’d definitely recommend it. Though it definitely is intense and time consuming – totally worth it in my mind. Let me know if you have any questions as you give it a go :)


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