Marathon Weight Training: Stay Strong During Marathon Training

Weight training is often overlooked as part of marathon training. Some running coaches have historically dismissed it because it was thought that any extra weight or bulk is bad for a runner. However, now many top runners and coaches have come around to the realization that muscular strength and conditioning are important both for runners’ performance and their overall health.

Running long distances is hard on the body. Many runners begin to lose lean muscle mass during marathon training, but a good weight training program can help you stay strong throughout your training and help you transition to your post-marathon workouts as well.

Of course your highest priority while training for a marathon is running – you need to get your running schedule, your recovery days, and your nutrition plan in place. But don’t forget to schedule time for the weight room too. Schedule your weight training on days when you aren’t doing long runs. Running long distances is physically draining, and adding weight training to that burden risks overstressing the body and decreasing your conditioning. Runners who exert too much find themselves dragging and weakening toward the end of their training.

Preserving lean muscle doesn’t require the same lifting intensity as building bulk. A program where you hit each muscle group once or twice per week is enough. Following a workout program that targets all major muscle groups is important in maintaining muscular balance and avoiding injury, but it can help your marathon performance as well. Most running injuries are caused from muscle imbalances.

In addition, try a post-workout stretching or yoga regimen to minimize the aches and soreness that come with training. Consider taking hot Epsom salt baths or going in for an occasional massage. Both of these are fantastic recovery techniques, and after a long, difficult run, you’ve earned it.

Finally, mix in a few rest days from all workouts. It’s imperative that you give your body the time recover and repair the damage done by intense training. Take steps to ensure you recover optimally between each session to better prepare yourself for the runs ahead. Sleep is critical in building of muscles and their recovery as well. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you aren’t sleeping enough, you will not recover — remember, you can’t get stronger if you don’t recover and may possibly get injured.

Don’t run away from the weight room while preparing for the big race. You don’t want to feel weaker at the end of the race than you were at the start. Incorporate weights and finish the race as strong as you started…hit the gym and the road!

If you need help with a marathon strength training program (or any fitness goals), would like information or want to sign up for a complimentary consult and introductory workout contact us at 770-330-2126 or email

Paula Jamieson

Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutritionist, Exercise Therapy Specialist

Bodyrich Fitness Company



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