It’s no secret that strength training is incredibly beneficial for runners
— it can make you a faster, more efficient, and more powerful athlete.
However, knowing how to balance strength training while also training for a high-endurance event like a marathon can be difficult. Lots of miles and lots of pounds can be tough on the body and if done improperly could lead to worse performance or even injury. Striking the right balance, though, can mean that you can still achieve improvements in strength training while also building the endurance needed to finish those 26.2 miles.
Here are five things to keep top of mind when putting in the reps while putting in the miles:
1. Work on Strength Training While Working on Speed
Depending on your marathon training plan, you’ll likely spend the first few months working on speed before getting into marathon-specific pacing and training where your top speeds you’ll run are just a bit faster than your marathon pace.
During this beginning stage of speed-building, focus on heavy strength training — this will help you develop more strength early on in the program. As you get to the pace-specific training of your marathon plan, you’ll then want to go into “maintenance mode”, where you’ll focus more on retaining the strength you gained during the first stage of training instead of trying to grow it. For Tempo athletes, that means seeking out Build classes that are focused on hypertrophy
, or muscle growth and strength building.
2. Run, then Lift
Prioritize your training runs and focus on strength training afterwards. This allows you to hit your runs with a full tank so that you can hit pacing benchmarks. While it can differ depending on the person or their training plan, a general rule of thumb is to give your lower body 48 hours after a long/speed-focused run and your strength training workout.
3. Avoid HIIT and Running Back-to-Back
HIIT workouts, like Tempo’s Shred classes, can be a fun and more time-efficient way to build endurance and spike the heart rate; however, they can take a lot out of you. While generally fine to swap a HIIT workout for a run, it is not recommended to do them on consecutive days so that your body has some time to recover.
4. Don’t Just Run
As mentioned above, subbing out runs for other workouts can save you time, and it can also be a bit gentler on your joints. Consider adding in Tempo Sweat classes in place of one of your scheduled easy runs once per week — they’re low impact, will be bodyweight-focused or use light weights, and are a great way to expose your body to other ways to develop strength and power.
5. Take the Time to Warm Up and Cool Down
Many may be eager to jump right into a run or immediately find the nearest seat after a long training session. It’s important to warm up properly to avoid injury and to get your body primed for the work ahead and cooldowns also help with injury prevention and getting your heart rate lowered at a safer and more gradual pace.
Tempo home gym has an array of mobility and recovery classes that are great for pre and post-runs and perfect for warm-ups and cooldowns. Don’t discount what those extra few minutes can do for you — there’s a reason why every Tempo class has a warm-up and cooldown.
What a Week of Tempo Strength Training and Marathon Training Could Look Like:
For Tempo athletes, the general recommendation is to either pause the program
you’re in or adapt your running schedule to the program.
If you’re looking for an example of a typical week for a Tempo marathon runner, we’ve outlined a sample training schedule:
➤ Monday: Tempo recovery/Mobility class
➤ Tuesday: Easy run + Upper Body Build or Shred class + a core class
➤ Wednesday: Easy run + a Burn class (Tempo Burn classes are focused on building muscular endurance and long-hold exercises — think similar to Barre or Pilates)
➤ Thursday: Quality session (a speed workout for instance) + Lower Body Build class
➤ Friday: Rest day or low-impact Tempo class — most anything labeled Sweat or Burn
➤ Saturday: A Tempo run + a Mobility and Core class
➤ Sunday: Long run + a Recovery class
How to Find the Right Balance Between Running and Strength Training
There isn’t a blanket methodology that will work for all runners. Some runners may be seasoned marathoners while others just bought their first pair of running shoes. And each body may be more suited to certain types of workouts, require less rest, etc. — it’ll take some experimentation.
The most important thing is to listen to your body no matter your experience level. If your legs feel shot after a quality session even after a few hours of rest, don’t push it. If you’re feeling sluggish after a tempo run, it may not be a good idea to do a full-on Tempo workout either. The one thing you want to avoid is overtraining and getting injured.
To get a look at the types of classes that are perfect for runners that cover our aforementioned Shred, Build, Sweat, Burn, and Mobility classes, we’ve already put the best of the best together in our Tempo Runners’ collection. You can find it on your Classes tab of your Tempo home gym.