New Marathon Runners: Strength Training

There is no argument against the fact that strength training is a great idea for marathon runners, especially new marathon runners who are training for a big race.

One way for beginner marathon runners to do some easy strength training without any weights  is to do hill runs. Running up hills is a great form of strength training; start out with smaller hills and work your way up to the bigger, steeper hills to really give yourself a challenge.You want to be doing the hill run strength training at least half as much as you run. So if you run 6 days per week then do a hill run 3 times, even a beginner should be running about 4 days per week so try aiming for 2 hill runs every week.

There are 2 types of hill training, one uphill and one downhill. In the uphill version just keep running up the hill 3-4 times and use the run down as a little rest on your lungs. Beware though, since downhill training is the other part of it there must be something to that too. On the downhill part your muscles are used far more than on the uphill part so even though it feels like a rest on your lungs your leg muscles are being worked a lot more. When running up the hills really lift your knees and pump your arms, form is important here.

Keep in mind there is a certain risk of injury when running downhill so pay attention. Don’t start out with too steep of a hill, any more than 10% slope and you might hurt yourself. Form is important on the downhill part too; don’t lean back and slow down, use short strides and stand upright while slightly bent forward.

Weight lifting as you probably know is a great way to build muscle too, but don’t do it on the days in between runs or else your legs will never get a chance to rest; run first then lift weights right after, it will be tiring but not only will it give you more rest days, it will build muscle faster.

Don’t just focus on strengthening for your legs. Squatting and other leg exercises are great but you need to work out your core and upper body too. For your core you can do planks, sit-ups, crunches; these exercises are all great for improving running stamina especially up hills. And for your upper body do some chest presses, bent over and straight rows, lateral raises, and curls. Pretty much the go-to exercises for most people.

Finally, cross training is great too, get on the elliptical, maybe some cycling or rowing. Try to do this twice per week to start with, don’t go too hard though try and keep it at a lower intensity, and always remember to take a day off from training completely!

There are some basic tips on strength training for beginner marathon runners. Do these things and slowly increase the intensity and the time spent doing each one and you will be running your marathons in times you didn’t think possible.


Photo by David Baird



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