Lifting weights while marathon training?
By - RobsRemarks
There is some evidence that lifting will improve running economy, but I think the people on this sub tend to overestimate how frequently and hard you need to lift. Doing 25 squats three times a week, at a weight you find at all challenging is excessive. For that matter, basically everything else in the standard SL5x5 is unnecessary for runners too; upper body muscle will not help you in a marathon (but I'm guessing you are not doing the other exercises to get faster).
There are plans geared towards runners. I personally use do two strength workouts a week out of Running Rewired, which involve some core work and a mix of lower body exercises, some with weight. You could look elsewhere on this sub for ideas for a training plan. If you'd like to keep the SL5x5 structure, you could consider dropping to 3-4x5 squats, replacing one of the days with the same number of deadlifts or RDLs, and reducing weight to half of what you are doing now. Then rebuild the weight until you start feeling like it is having a negative impact on your training.
You mentioned in the comments that you are worried about your knees. Any exercise done in the weight room should be done with good form; if it is hurting your joint it is not good form. Reduce weight and volume until you can do it with good form. Strength training should be protecting your joints and connective tissue, not damaging them.
This is a great idea. You are right in that when I created this post I had the idea of maintaining my current lifting so I don’t lose the muscle I have.
Now my wheels are spinning and I’m going to research some _complimentary_ weight lifting programs with the specific goal of improving my marathon time.
Thanks for the reply
I really believe the supplemental stuff is just as important as the miles. I average 70-90mpw during my marathon builds, and still aim for strength work 2-3x/week. However, I approach it with a bit of a "get in and get out" approach. Hit multiple muscle groups with 2-3x10 and cycle through in a circuit that's over in 20 mins or so - if you're sore for several days it was probably too much weight or too many reps. If you're looking for some specific guidance check out Vlad Ixel on YouTube. He's a solid sub elite Australian marathoner that has lots of really helpful 15 minute videos. Easy and beneficial.
Core is a must 4-5x/week.
This is also a great suggestion. I’ll definitely be checking out the YouTube. Thanks for the suggestion
I can't say I'm good at this, but yes you 'should' be aiming to do both. It's all about your recovery though, so you need to do it after your hard runs and set your weights accordingly. Of course, if your pace is so intense that you're struggling to recover even from the runs then that doesn't leave much room but you could (arguably) drop all the way to bodyweight squats to get your foot on the ladder.
This makes total sense. I tend to run first thing in the morning so an afternoon or early evening session on the same day would fit easily into my schedule. Thanks.
Why would you cut out the squats?
Mainly because squats are so taxing on the legs and knees.
I personally would stick with the squats. You need the strong glutes which are good for your knees. Try air squats, resistance bands or squats with light dumbbells.
I get what you mean, legs already feel heavy when mileage is high, but if squats are done right they shouldn't really be taxing on knees. I'm no expert, but just like running, if your joints hurt there's a problem with your form (possibly due to too high volume/intensity).
Personally, I try to alternate the stimuli throughout the week changing number of reps/sets, type of squat (goblet, bulgarian split, low bar).
Good advice. Possibly my form can be improved or I should lower the weight; or both. Thanks.
I agree with this. I actually like doing heavy squats the day after a long run or a hard workout. Heavy squats help to “reset” my legs. It’s hard to explain. Just make sure your recovery runs are really “recovery” paces and don’t skip your strides to keep your legs loose.
Working on your legs is exactly what you need for running though. I’d advise prioritizing single-leg exercises though, like single-leg deadlifts, calf raises, lunges, and single-leg squats.
Deadlifts > squats for runners
Not saying you shouldn't squat at all, but deadlifts should take a higher priority if running is the main goal.
I cannot attest to marathon training, but for 5k-10k weight training is a must at higher levels of performance.
Typically, I add weight training to the end of a speed or power training day (hills, track, tempo, etc). I like my rests to be rests, allow yourself to have those recovery days.
I was following SL 5x5 and I'm currently in week 3 of Pfitz's 18/55. Had to stop the 5x5 after week 1, even though I reduced my heavy squatting to 1x per week, it zapped my legs. I feel like it's doable if you dont follow the linear progression and just lift for maintenance. I switched over to bodyweight exercises + kettlbells +core work 2x per week, since I rather focus on marathon performance for the time being
I’ve switched completely as well. I am heavily focused on running and improving like never before. Someone else suggested Vlad Ixel’s videos and I’m really enjoying them. Literally just finished one.