Strengthening and Conditioning for a Marathon

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Strengthening and Conditioning for a Marathon

The right strengthening and stretching program is important when preparing for a marathon. Strength training has been shown to improve running economy, prevent injuries, and improve body composition and resting metabolic rates. Strength training is particularly important for older runners. Endurance exercise, like running, does less to protect against age related loss of lean muscle tissue than strength training.

When training for a race runners should perform one to two full-body strength sessions per week. Your workouts should be staggered around your key running workouts for the week. Avoid combining your strength workout with a hard speed session or long run on the same day. Research shows it could compromise your running workout and recovery[1]

Your strengthening routine should focus on two goals. First you must focus on correcting any imbalances in your movement patterns like over-pronation or over-supination. Read my last blog post on Plantar Fasciitis for the right exercises and stretches. Research has shown that a 1:1 strength ratio between your hamstrings and quadriceps is related to optimal running economy[2]. When performing leg exercises you can compare how much weight you can lift on the leg extension exercise versus leg curls. You need to strengthen the weaker of the two muscles. Most people have stronger quadriceps than hamstrings and will usually do only the leg curl, instead of both leg curl and leg extension exercises in a workout.

In addition to corrective exercises, your workout should aim at overall strengthening throughout the body to improve running economy and endurance muscle fibers. The following is a sample workout that incorporates both :

Lower Body

If you over-pronate during running do:
-Ankle Inversions with dorsiflexion using resistance tubing,
If you over-supinate, during running do
-Ankle Eversions with plantarflexion using resistance tubing

If your Quadriceps are stronger than your hamstrings do
-Leg Curls

If your Hamstrings are stronger than your Quadriceps do
-Leg Extensions
-Hip Adduction
-Hip Abduction
-Dumbbell Front Squat
-Barbell Deadlift

Upper Body

-Bench Press
-Dumbbell rows
-Dumbbell press
-Barbell Curls
– Planks(hold 30-60 seconds)
-Side Planks (hold 30-60 seconds)
-Do 2 sets of each exercise of 8-12 repetitions

For each upper and lower body exercise start with a weight heavy enough to allow you to reach 8 repetitions per set. Try to increase the reps every week. Once you can perform 12 repetitions with a certain weight, you can increase the load enough to allow you to do 8 repetitions again. Use the routine alongside your running training 1 to 2 days a week.

Provided by Ivan Garay LMT CPT
References

Eur J Sport Sci. 2014;14(2):107-15. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2012.726653. Epub 2012 Oct 3.
The acute effects intensity and volume of strength training on running performance.
Doma K1, Deakin GB.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000376,
Post Acceptance: January 28, 2014
Relationship Between Functional Hamstring: Quadriceps Ratios and Running Economy in Highly Trained and Recreational Female Runners.
Sundby, Øyvind Heiberg; Gorelick, Mark

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24533516
See references for specific citation information

[2] http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/publishahead/Relationship_Between_Functional_Hamstring_.97501.aspx
See References for specific citation information