Since the very first marathon I trained for in 2004, I have always used the “cross-training days” built into my marathon training programs as rest days. I figured sleep and relaxing my muscles were an important part of training, so I took that part very seriously 😉
( I really need to think about writing the Lazy Man’s Guide to Marathon Training book)
This time around, I am using those cross-training days for strength training with only one true rest day per week. Most training programs recommend cross-training by swimming or biking which I never understood. Seems to me the running part of the program is plenty of cardio and I would get more benefits from exercises focused on building muscle mass.
I have been doing two days of strength training per week, and it’s working good thus far. In terms of benefit, I measure it by how I feel during a run and how sore my muscles are after a long run. I have felt pretty awesome both during and after my runs. The little bit of weight I have dropped has contributed to the runs becoming easier, as well. And, I think the weight loss has been helped by the strength training. So it’s been a benefit all around, in my opinion.
Despite the early signs that what I am doing is working, I’m still fairly early in the program and haven’t yet hit the 30-40 plus miles per week running range. So I’m wondering how long I can continue to see benefits until I need to shake thing up a bit; and if I shake things up, how do I go about shaking?
The thing that is perplexing me is whether or not to add intensity via more reps or more weight to my strength training as I also add on mileage. Despite my fear of an injury due to over-training, I’m thinking it may be beneficial to increase reps and weight amounts as I continue, and possibly add a third day of strength training to my weekly routine. Since 75% of my strength training is focused on my upper body and core and not my leg muscles, I doubt the risk of injury to my legs is very high. But maybe instead of a third day of strength training I should add a day of some other form of cross-training?
I’d love to hear from other runners and fitness folks. Does anyone have experience with combining strength training and marathon training, or any suggestions? What kind of cross-training are other runners doing?
Total miles: 23.5
Total number of runs: 3 (skipped a short run this week)
Longest run: 13 miles
Cross-training: two days strength training
Weight: no change (I was actually down a pound before I celebrated by 13 mile run with pizza the day before Easter, which was also spent eating 🙂 )
Toenails: still 1 black, but they’re all still hanging on!