Strength Training During Marathon Training

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

Iโ€™m the owner of Carrots โ€˜Nโ€™ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and canโ€™t lose weight no matter what they do.

GAH!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

My head is spinning. There’s a lot happening on the work front this week. It’s all good stuff, but woah. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. Sorry for the negative intro. I guess Iย just don’t deal with stress well.


Mid-morning, I took a break from the madness at my desk and munched on a cinnamon almond Raw Way Bar that the folks from OpenSky sent me to sample. I loved it!! It had lots of flavor, great texture, and tasted delicious. It reminded me of a Larabar mixed with a KIND barโ€โ€ best of both worlds.

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A couple of hours later, I took a short break away from my computer for an early lunch. I made a salad with a big scoop of veggie hummus on top and flax oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. On the side, I had some crackers.

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After lunch, I satisfied my sweet tooth with a dark chocolate Adora disk with peanut butter and then a handful of chocolate chips.

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It’s only noon, but I’ve already eaten breakfast, lunch, and a snack. It’s funny how stress makes me want to EAT! Maybe a walk with the pug will help my anxiety levels?

Marathon Training & Body Pump

Recently, I’ve received a number of questions about marathon training and Body Pump/strength training. It seems to be a hot topic, so I decided to answer some of them in this post. As always, I am happy to help in anyway that I can, but please remember that I’m not a fitness professional.

How do you balance your strength training and running?

My long runs are typically on Saturday mornings, so I schedule my strength training around it. My goal is to attend two Body Pump classes each week, so I usually take them on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Fridays. (My gym doesn’t offer BP on Thursdays.) I prefer to take the Monday and Wednesday Body Pump classes, so my legs are ready for my long run on Saturday. However, when I take the Friday Body Pump class, I use lighter weight on my legs (squats & lunges), so they aren’t sore for my long run the next morning. (I use my usual weight on everything else.)

If I can’t fit two Body Pump classes in during the week, I usually attend a yoga class that focuses on building strength and core muscles, such as Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, etc. Yoga seems to be a good alternative and the class usually helps with my flexibility and balance, which is also important for running.

Do you feel like Body Pump interferes with your long runs at all?

Yes, it definitely does, and it took a little getting used to at first. When I trained for my first marathon, I skipped a lot of strength training workouts, but now I find it helpful to plan my workouts for the week on Sunday afternoon, so I can balance my running with strength training. It takes a little coordination, but somehow I make it work. My current training plan demonstrates how I balance these different workouts.

I know I am supposed to be cross-training and/or strength training on my off-days, but I am typically sore and want to save my legs for our next training run. Do you think I am doing myself a disservice by not doing anything on my off-days?

Possibly. If you’re really sore, I won’t strength training. But, if you’re not super sore, I’d definitely incorporate strength training into your cross training days. Building muscle helps you run faster, burns more calories, and prevents injuries!

Do you think I should do some weights and cross-training on my off-days, or do you think that with less than a month left until the race I shouldn’t incorporate anything new into the training schedule?

Personally, I wouldn’t do anything different. I’d just keep doing what you’re doing in preparation for race day. After the race, however, I’d fit some strength training into your weekly workouts!

OpenSky Giveaway

A reader left a comment about the Toddy Cold Brew System on my blog this morning, and I thought it was really cool, soย I asked OpenSky to do giveaway for it. I love iced coffee, so, of course, I want everyone else to love it too!


All you have to do to enter the giveaway is follow me on OpenSky. If you already follow me, you’re entered to win.

The Toddy Cold Brew System also goes really well with an upcoming deal for one of my favorite products ever! Oh, yes, get ready for a sweet deal on the stainless steal straws!!! Just make sure you follow me, so you can get in on the deal!

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  1. Last year when I trained for my marathon I didn’t do any strength training. This year I get at least one strength training day in and 1-2 yoga days which have definitely helped! I feel much stronger during my long runs.

  2. I definitely incorporate strength training into marathon training.

    Typically I strength train 4 days a week (2 upper body/2 lower body) but while marathon training I strength train 2 or 3 days a week.

    I find that 2 days per week isn’t enough for me during marathon training so I prefer to do 3 days: 2 upper body days and 1 lower body day.

    It’s really important to maintain your muscle mass when running, primarily for injury prevention.

  3. I’m just about at the end of my current training cycle (my half is on Sunday!). I tried, midway through, to add BodyPump into my routine, but it really flared up some issues I have (mostly tendonitis). I would like to give it another go after my race, but I’m pretty nervous about reinjuring myself.

  4. Any suggestios for those of us who don’t have a gym that offers classes for strength training? I am a newbie to race-training and running for that matter.

  5. Great post. I struggle with coordinating the two, because I really like to do 4 days of strength. In training for 2 half marathons for 5 months I’ve realized that getting in quality sessions even if it’s only 2 days a week is more important than completely skimping.

  6. I feel that strength training has really helped with my running. My legs feel so much stronger! I use a mix of dvds, but I should look into strength classes at my gym to change things up a bit.

    That stainless steel straw is amazing! I have iced coffee every morning and go through straws like crazy. I can’t wait for the deal!

  7. There is a movement in Vermont, where I go to school, to try to eliminate straws from restaurants! I think it’s a great idea, and I think it would be cool if places started using the stainless steel ones that you always use. I’m not sure how easy they would be to clean, but if you think about it straws are sort of unnecessary in the first place.

  8. Ithink when I am training…. I let my weight training go to the way side too much. I miss it. I should do it more if I miss it..even if my training schedule doesn’t necessarily say to. Time to make my own training schedules!

  9. Best giveaway EVER!
    I love iced coffee – and would totally make it myself if I had the Toddy Cold Brew System! think of all the money I would save!

  10. There must be something in the air this week! I was grousing about-er-contemplating MY crazy week, and just read another blog form a woman with an insane amount of work to get done. I think we should all meet here next Monday and have a toast to our accomplishments!

    I’m not a runner, but we have a number of Pilates programs specifically designed for runners. The best ones, IMHO, are done on the reformer and other machines which, unfortunately, cost more money, but there are plenty of mat exercises that work, as well. And we often incorporate weights. (The “Runner’s World” website has some video demos of basic Pilates moves.)
    Just throwing my 2 cents in.

  11. In the past when training for races, I’ve still maintained my strength training, but to a lesser extent so that I could save my biggest efforts (and my legs!) for running. I was pretty strict about taking a total rest on my rest day, but still did some additional stretching… and lots of sleeping! I agree with you on that last point about current training plans and changes – if it’s that close to the race and you’re not currently doing any strength training, I’d just keep things the way they are!

  12. I agree it’s important to keep up with your strength training when you’re training for a marathon; stronger leg muscles = better running form. The strength training schedule you outlined (twice a week and scheduled around your running) seems like a good balanced program.

  13. I did BodyPump on Mondays and Wednesday during marathon training. I only ran three days a week: monday/wednesday/friday. I ran the shorter distances before Pump on Mon and Wed, cross trained (Body Combat) on Tues, took a rest day on Thursday and did my long run on Friday. I think strength training really helped me to prepare for the marathon, but towards the end of training, I did cut back on squat weight to give my legs a chance to rest.

    1. @alison: I read somewhere recently (maybe it was part of Arthur Lydiard’s running way…) that recommended doing strength training on moderate/hard workout days so the rest days and long, slow distance days were truly those.

  14. Yeah I found that once I started running more, I kept forgetting to strength train. So while I was getting into FABULOUS shape, my arms and abs weren’t as toned as I’d like them to be. I try to do at least 15 minutes of lifting after my (shorter) runs, but Physique 57 is really what I should be doing 2-3 times a week when I get home (I go for runs in the morning or during my lunch break). It’s tough to fit it all in!

  15. That cold brew system looks very interesting.

    I found my knees handled long runs a lot better when I made the effort to build up my quads with strength training.

    I hope your stress levels go down soon…

  16. I agree with the soreness part. I think that in order to let our muscles repair a bit, we shouldn’t completely cut off activity, but just lightly work it out so it relaxes and repairs itself quicker.

  17. Strength training is a huge love of mine so I adore fitting it in with runs. Right now I do four weight workouts each week (splitting the body up to where each body part is trained 2x/week). When I began full on training for my half marathon I will just do 2 full body workouts a week. I really think it helps to have it in there. Great post!

  18. I don’t think I could give up strength training for running. I’ve had SO much more endurance since strength training anyway!!

    Also, awesome giveaway! I’ve been wanting to try your iced coffees fooreevver but don’t even have a normal brewing system.

  19. I definitely don’t do enough strength training. I think that was why I hurt my knees last summer. And I need to do more with stretch training! My legs get so tight during long runs. Need to invest in a foam roller too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thank you for a great post!
    I run a whole lot, and everyone tells me I need to do some strength training too. I know they are probably right, and I would be happy to be more toned:P
    I still feel like adding strenght to my legs would weigh me down during my runs and I dont want that..
    Glad you have found what works for you ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. Tina, i do follow you on open sky, but do not receive weekly or even any e-mails from them via you about promos! I also follow other bloggers and do not receive e-mails from them either! Is this right?

      1. @Tina: i followed the link and it said i was following you already! Oh well, i can still go directly to open sky and see the offers i suppose, thanks!

  22. Re strength training – I hate it! But I know I need to do it. I’m not training for a marathon right now, so I really need to get into the routine. I don’t belong to a gym, but it is totally possible to strength train at home with weights, and bands, and dvds or books. As for the iced coffee maker – that looks amazing. I love iced coffee, I must get one of those.

  23. I love love love Body Pump, to the extent that I am willing to wake up at 4:45 am two days a week to make it to the only two classes that fit into my current schedule. I am just beginning training for my first half marathon. I still have weight to lose, and I have only been running for 3 months, so I am going slow and steady. I am interested to see how BP works with my training. Your suggestion to go lighter on legs may help the day before my speed work. I may give that a go.

  24. i strength train during marathon/triathlon training but only for my upper body and core. With my latest running injury, it’s been advised that I start lower body work to work on reducing the imbalances in strength between my two legs but I’m always afraid of trashing my legs and not being able to get my run/bike in at the quality I want! I definitely need to follow your lead of reducing weight in days close to big workouts.

  25. I know it can be hard to grasp that strength training will actually help you in the long run. I have added strength training and yoga to my weeks (about 6 months ago) and I was able to run 2 1/2 marathons 2 weeks apart without any real soreness!!! I would not have been able to do this after my first 1/2 marathon (where I only ran and maybe biked a coupld times during training).
    I attempted marathon training at the end of 2009 (for Disney 2010) and all I did was run. I ended up with sacraliliac joint dysfunction (pain in my right hip/rear) and was not able to run the marathon.
    My sister is a personal trainer. She told me that building up the muscles in my legs would not only help me run faster (and do better with hills), but would prevent injury. The last 2 half marathons I did, I knocked FORTY minutes off my time in the first one, and an additional 6 minutes in the second one!!

  26. Yep! LOVE strength training. SO many benefits for runners: helps joint pain, reduces risk of injury, burns more calories, strengthens muscles to help with speed work, and it helps build self confidence (MUCH needed for long runs and the actual day OF marathon!)

    YAh for BodyPUMP ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I LOVE lifting weights. I am sort of doing P90X but I really love lifting heavy in the gym. I think it goes great with running, I just have to make sure and not do heavy legs before a long run!

  28. Do you do yoga in addition to your marathon training and strength training?

    I started my training in January and decreased my strength training and yoga. Now, I’m pretty sure those are the reason’s I’m sidelined with an injury.

  29. I just posted about something similar since I begin half marathon training next week. One of my goals is to incorporate 2 days of strength training/yoga a week. I think it’ll help alleviate some of the knee pain I felt the first time around…fingers crossed!

  30. What a great post – I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m training for my first marathon! I know how important strength training is, but find it hard to fit in. Something I definitely need to work on! Thanks for the informative post!

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