How was your weekend, everyone? Ryan and I got back last night from a few days away in Madison, Wisconsin for a wedding, in which he was a groomsman. We had lots of fun seeing our college friends. I took a few days off of social media and blogging to help with the wedding and reconnect with friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding.
Last Marathon Monday I offered 4 reasons why you should strength train during marathon training. Strength training, especially when you’re logging several hours of running per week, is easier said than done, so today I want to offer practical tips on how to include strength training during marathon training.
Run First, Lift Later
Chances are, if you’re training for a marathon, you’re running most days of the week and will end up strength training on some of the same days you run. Whether you run in the morning or after school or work, you want to run before your strength training. This way, your muscles are fresh for your running and you can give it your best effort. If you end up cutting your workout short, then your running won’t suffer. After all, you are training for a marathon or other race, so you don’t want to compromise your goal (building endurance) by strength training first.
Sneak It in After Your Run
Some days, you just don’t want to fit in a second workout! Instead, try adding a quick 15-minute strength workout immediately after an easy run. It doesn’t have to be complicated; some bodyweight exercises such as squats, push ups, planks, and lunges are incredibly effective but don’t require a lot of time or any equipment. Your muscles will be warmed up from running, so you will have a full range of motion and can get the most out of strength training. Cool down from your strength training just as you would with a run, by foam rolling and immediately re-fueling with a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs and protein.
Strength Train on Hard Days…
No matter the distance for which you are training, endurance training abides by a simple rule: keep your hard days hard and your easy days easy. You can apply the concept of polarized training to your strength training as well. Do your strength workouts, especially if you lift heavy weights, later in the day after an interval or tempo run. This will allow your body to fully recover from heavy lifting so that, by your next key workout, you aren’t experiencing too much notable soreness.
…Or on Easy Days
While strength training on hard days follows the hard/easy paradigm of sensible training, I prefer to strength train on easy days. Speed work and goal pace workouts tire me out, so if I add a second workout those days, it’s usually Pilates or yoga. I strength train instead on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so one of the sessions is the evening before my goal pace workout. To balance that, I do lighter weights on that day (so I’m not sore before a key workout) and then a more intense strength workout the day before an easy run. This variety is beneficial for me as well, as it keeps me from plateauing or getting bored with my workouts.
Try a Group Fitness Class
Participating in a group fitness class is a great way to commit to a strength training routine. First, you don’t have to worry about which exercises to do or how many reps, as the instructor will guide you throughout the entire workout. Second, the social aspect is motivating and, even if you’re feeling tired, working out with other people will prevent you from quitting early. Finally, group exercise classes usually involve a fee in advance, so you are less likely to skip your workout when you’ve already paid for it! Check out these tips for incorporating group fitness classes into your training schedule.
Make the Most of Your Time
Some people may love long strength training sessions, but I personally find that short and effective sessions work best for me, especially during marathon training. I stick to 15-30 minute strength workouts that hit as many muscle groups as possible. Rather than isolating a single muscle, I do moves such as kettlebell swings, jump squats, lunges, bridges, and planks to get a total body workout without spending an hour at the gym. In addition to being more time effective, strength exercises to activate multiple muscle groups are more specific for the total-body movements of running.
Portland Marathon Training Week 10
Because of travel, I modified my training this week and had to cut out a workout. I ended up cutting out my speed workout (I was supposed to do 3 x 1 mile) in order to get in more miles and marathon-specific workouts. Since we were busy almost the entire time we were in Madison, I prioritized running and got in less strength training than I usually do. It wasn’t ideal how many runs I did on the treadmill, but my allergies were acting up in Madison and I didn’t feel like making myself sick.
Monday: AM: 7 miles easy, 9:40/mile average pace. PM: 15 minutes bodyweight strength training and foam rolling.
Tuesday: 11 miles with 8 miles at goal marathon pace (7:58/mile average), treadmill, 1-2.5% incline. Since I was on the treadmill, I was able to practice running exactly at my goal pace.
Wednesday: Rest day due to travel, but lots of walking (probably 3-4 miles) around Madison.
Thursday: AM: 6 miles easy with some hills, 9:00/mile, treadmill, 0-4% incline. PM: 15 minutes bodyweight strength training.
Friday: 10 miles easy, 9:00/mile, treadmill, 0.5-1% incline.
Saturday: 10 mile progression run, 8:25/mile average pace, treadmill, 0-2% incline.
Sunday: Rest day due to travel.
44 miles for the week.
Questions to the Day:
How do you include strength training in your marathon training?
Any tips you’d add to this list?
Do you attend group fitness classes?