Marathon + Strength Training


by Becca Egan, BS, NASM-CPT

Summer is here and so is marathon training season (Chicago Marathon is October 8th this year).

Everyone’s putting in those miles on the road. It’s no doubt that training for a marathon is a large commitment - both in time and the training itself. But should marathon runners only be running? The typical marathon training schedule (found on many running websites) has about 4-5 days of running and 2-3 days of rest, running anywhere from 12-60 miles a week depending on your level and goals. Some plans suggest doing some cross training on your rest days or in conjunction with your shorter run days. However, I have not come across many that have a laid out strength training plan, or even really suggesting strength training at all. Here are the areas you should be training alongside your running.

Core – Many people forget that your core is more than just your abs. It’s basically your body minus your head, legs, and arms. That whole middle section, front and back. A strong core is super important for so many things. Not only looking good in a bathing suit, but preventing injury and optimal running performance. Build up your core and drive your body to the finish line with power.

Exercises: planks, back extensions, dead lifts, broad jumps, push-ups, hollow holds (non-traditional core exercises )

Lower body – whether it be the quads (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), calf (back of the lower leg) or glutes (the butt) all of them are involved in running. And the stronger they are, the better they will perform. Strong legs will power you up a hill, give you the burst of speed you need to get in front of the crowd right at the starting line, or beat that person in front of you right at the finish line.

Exercises: Weighted back or front squats, dead lifts, hip bridges, weighted lunges

Upper body – This one might seem a little odd considering you’re not really using your arms when you’re running right? Well if you’re not, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Upper body (mainly shoulders, chest, and upper back) will help you get up hills because you can use your arms to pump and power you forward. Having an strong upper back and chest will also help you run with better posture and avoid back pain from running in a hunched over position.

Exercises: over head press, regular and reverse flies, bench press

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