You might think weight training and marathon training don't mix. We've all heard it before: "I’m chasing a personal best and don't want to bulk up!" but strength training is an important component to cross training for a marathon. The right exercises improve your stability, build power in your legs, and reduce your risk of injury. Adding lean muscle mass also improves the rate at which your body burns fat!
Cross training can help you reach your goals, but overdoing it can derail your training. So how do you incorporate lifting into your training plan?
- Align your lifting with your running
The goals of each type of training should be in sync. When you're building up your base mileage, focus your strength training on stability exercises (such as single leg deadlifts and single leg squats for hip stability). As training ramps up, your weight training should focus on building power in your legs. During peak weeks, incorporate plyometric exercises. And during taper, the goal should be maintaining muscle, not building muscle. You don't want to stress your body by over-lifting so stick to bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats.
- Lift after you run
You need to let your body recover from your training runs, and squats and deadlifts aren't the way to do that. As much as possible, schedule your lifting the same day as a run. Run first on fresh legs, and either lift directly following the run or later in the day. You may need to lighten the load, but doubling up on workouts will make you a stronger runner while still allowing time for a proper recovery.
- Every day is not leg day
It can be tempting to go all-in on leg exercises. More leg power means you'll breeze up those hills, right? But don't ignore your upper body and core. A strong upper body and core leads to better posture and improved running form, which will make your run feel easier.
Follow these simple rules for a successful training cycle!