Ask Stew: Supplemental Workouts for a Running Plan

Soldiers attempt to qualify for Army Ten-Miler team.
Soldiers across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum run a qualifier race for the Army Ten-Miler team roster. (Mike Strasser/U.S. Army photo)

There are cycles in some training programs that focus on the tougher elements of the job, especially in tactical fitness. If your job requires you to be in good cardiovascular shape and be even better at load bearing, you need to put time in the saddle and get those job requirements done -- but in a focused cycle that does not last all year.

Here is a good question from an Army infantryman trying to supplement company PT:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am an infantryman, and my company is on a running/rucking cycle right now, hitting about 25 miles a week of running, with a ruck or two mixed in the week. What do you recommend for my own supplemental training? I have some of your programs and like to add them to my training. We do some PT but not a lot. -- Thanks, Staff Sergeant JJ

Thanks for your service and good job understanding you also need to keep up with strength, muscle stamina, flexibility and mobility in addition to the running and rucking you are doing. This is needed not just for general health and well-being, but also operational capability that requires work capacity and durability.

Here is what I recommend if you are using some of my Tactical Fitness/Tactical Strength/Tactical Mobility and Warrior Workout programs. These workouts will incorporate running and rucking as well. Just skip any running and rucking in my programs that you are using as supplements and focus on what you are missing that day. Add in some calisthenics, lifts, stretching and mobility work throughout the week.

On any upper-body PT/run day: Mix in some upper-body weights, more PT if needed, and replace any running with non-impact cardio options such as bike, elliptical, rowing or swimming. If you select swimming, add in treading and dynamic stretches in chest-deep water to work the hips and knees as the mileage increases each week. This is a good cooldown programming that will help you maintain your strength, muscle stamina, flexibility and mobility. Not to mention burn some extra calories to keep you lean (if needed).

Related: Tactical Fitness -- All the Elements of Fitness

On any lower-body PT or run or ruck day: Mix in leg lifts such as squats, deadlifts and farmer walks up and down hills or stairs to top off the legs at the end of the day. Follow with a non-impact cardio option as a cooldown for 15-20 minutes, mixing in bike, elliptical, rowing or swimming as well. Once again, mix in some mobility work in the pool to help with hips, knees and lower-back soreness that can creep up on you after increased miles of running/rucking and heavier lifting.

Take a mobility day as a second workout (or two, if needed) during the week: A simple workout of non-impact cardio, followed by stretching, foam rolling or a massage tool, can help with any aches and pains developed through weeks of increased pounding from running and rucking. Here is the mobility day I recommend at least once a week:

Repeat 5 times:

Bike, elliptical, row or swim 5 minutes (mix it up each set, if possible)

Stretch, foam roll or massage tool 5 minutes (mix it up each set)

If a pool is available, swim 10 minutes as a cooldown. Tread water using only legs and then only hands/arms for five minutes each. Then do all the dynamic stretches you can think of in chest-deep water for 10 minutes.

This combination of supplemental workouts will go nicely with a run/ruck cycle required at your company PT. On some days, just rest for your second workout of the day if you feel you are burning the candle at both ends. Make sure your sleeping and nutrition are on point, as missing sleep and not eating well will slow down progress with this type of two-a-day programming.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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