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Weight Lifting and Marathon Training

This article covers a lot more about Weight Lifting and Marathon Training in detail. There has been a lot of debate about the benefit of weight lifting to runners especially long-distance marathon runners. The truth is weight lifting provides little or no benefit at all to runners that want to increase their speed or endurance for distance running. In fact, a lot of leading world-class marathon runners have never hit the gym to lift weights.

Does that mean weight lifting is completely void of benefits to the runners? No, there are benefits, it just depends on what you want to achieve as a runner.

Identifying the Benefits of Weight Lifting To Runners

To understand the benefits of weight lifting to runners, we need to separate marathon runners into 3 distinct and separate groups.

  1. Highly competitive athletes who are interested in maximizing their marathon times and endurance.
  2. The pro-active athletes that usually suffer injury and want to minimize interruptions and delays during races and…
  3. The Fitness runner who is just looking to stay in shape, stay fit, and well-toned.

Runners in the 1st group benefit little from weight lifting training.  This is unless of course, they are prone to suffering injuries whilst running; then strength training will be of benefit to them. For those that have a clean bill of health, staying away from the gym will in no way disadvantage them. In some cases, lifting weights makes your muscles tighter and your run painful.

Weight lifting is usually accompanied by an increase in body mass as well. You certainly don’t want to carry extra weight for 26.2miles.  So if you are going to weight lift you have to careful not to overdo it at all.

Runners in the 2nd group will benefit from lifting weights especially the ones that are prone to knee injuries.  Weight training has the effect of strengthening connective tissue, muscle, and bone.  In addition to avoiding knee injuries, it also helps avoid hip and lower back injuries/pains, If they do occur then the injuries will not be so severe.

Runners in group 3 are the ones that probably benefit the most from weight lifting training.  These are people that are not concerned with winning races but take part to keep fit, maintain a healthy physical appearance (to be toned six-pack, abs and all) and just to maintain a competitive edge.

Weight Lifting and Marathon Training
Weight Lifting and Marathon Training

Options to Weight Lift Training

Question is; what options do you have as a highly competitive runner if you want strength training?  The answer is to train against resistance if you want to increase your endurance strength. One way is to run up a hill. You can find a hill that will take you about a minute go up and you can carry out repeated runs on it. This is will definitely increase your muscle and tendon strength.  The other option is to include routes that have hills for your training program runs.

Another option is for runners to engage in Plyometrics. Plyometrics are exercises that are intended to produce rapid and powerful movements meant to strengthen muscles, tendons, and improve the nervous system. However, these exercises can be quite dangerous if incorrectly carried out and could actually result in more harm than good. If you do not have experience with plyometric then you should always get someone to supervise or show you how to correctly do them.

The 3rd option that I can suggest for competitive endurance runners is to focus on weight lifting prior to the marathon training season. Pre-season you can run and weight lifting, then as the marathon season approaches you can taper of the weight lifting sessions and focus more on the running sessions.

What If You Really Want to Weight Lift

If you really want to weight lift, then there is a proper way of doing it. As a runner you cannot weightlift in the same manner a bodybuilder would or say a rugby player. Your sessions have to be lighter and less intense.  There are a number of weight lifting guides for runners that you will come across and you can choose one that you will be able to incorporate into your schedule.

Another thing is that your diet will have to change slightly. You can refer to the marathon training diet articles that are available on the site to find out what a regular marathon diet is comprised off. Once you incorporate weight lifting you have to reduce the carbohydrates slightly and increase the protein.  Carbohydrates supply the energy that you need when running and the proteins will build up the muscle and tissue.

Read more about Marathon Training Diet

What I would advise you is to do is to find a coach or follow marathon and weight lifting programs that you will strike a balance between the things that you want to achieve.

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