Integrating Strength Training with Marathon Training
It’s marathon training season, and for many of us the run training programme is in full swing. It’s a super-exciting time, with many of us chasing personal best times, perhaps you’re running for charity. For some of us it’s the first time running 26.2 miles, for others it’s another marathon to add to the list of many preceding.
Whatever your marathon motivation, the next few weeks and months are going to fly past!
This week, I’ve received a number of emails from runners asking how best to integrate strength training and core conditioning work into their marathon training schedules.
Well, the fact you’re even asking the question gets the first big thumbs-up from me.
If you’re one of those who emailed me – thank you – it has made me sit down and write this article at last. I’ve been meaning to do so for a long time!
Image via Julian Mason
Getting to The Start Line
Despite the compelling evidence supporting the inclusion of strength training in a runner’s programme, there are still plenty of runners who just run… doing nothing additional to help themselves develop as all-round balanced athletes.
Believe me, I get it… above all else, us runners just want to run!
However, as a coach with my injury rehab background, I’m acutely aware of the one factor that limits many runners from being able to enjoy their running and achieve success – injury.
It’s a frustrating reality that injury rates are incredibly high amongst runners; some sources suggest that over 75% of runners get injured each year. No wonder that when speaking to any given runner, the conversation often turns to injury.
Most of the common running injuries I see fall into the ‘overuse’ category, where some sort of movement dysfunction or soft tissue imbalance has been exacerbated by the highly repetitive and hight impact activity of running mile after mile. It’s not the marathon itself that breaks most runners, it’s the necessary mile after mile in training, before you even make the start line.
- ITB Syndrome
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
- Patellofemoral Pain (Runner’s Knee)
- Patella Tendinopathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Achilles Tendinopathy
…the list goes on. These are all injuries I’m guaranteed to see lots of during marathon training season. All of them overuse related. All of them avoidable.
Strength training for injury prevention in runners is an area of relative dearth in terms of scientific research, as Running Physio Tom Goom discusses here. However a relatively recent meta analysis from Danish researchers Lauersen et.al. suggests that strength training has a positive effect on reducing overuse injuries in athletes (not runners specifically though).
That said, years of experience has shown me that getting a runner onto an appropriate strength training programme has a powerfully positive effect on their ability to remain injury free.
Injury Free Marathon Training
I could easily write the rest of this article with a heavy slant towards the performance benefits of strength training for runners. Studies (here and here for example) have provided sound evidence for the performance benefits for strength training for distance runners.
But in my experience it’s not the marginal performance gains that most runners are concerned about when it comes to marathon training…
Having asked literally hundreds of runners what they’re most concerned about when looking at their marathon training plan, the vast majority answer something along the lines of:
“I just want to get though the programme injury free…”
It’s a justified concern. You may well be reading this nodding your head?
If so, what follows will hopefully provide a helpful resource to help you combine your running schedule with effective strength and core training in the coming weeks and months…
Ten Tips for Strength Training During Marathon Season
Here are a list of tips which will help you more effectively implement strength training into your marathon programme:
If you’re currently training for a marathon and looking for a program of strength / mobility / injury prevention workouts to fit well alongside your running, feel free to download this free program:
from Run Coaching, Ironman and Triathlon Specialists – Kinetic Revolution http://www.kinetic-revolution.com/ultimate-guide-to-strength-training-for-marathon-runners/