Strength Training for Marathon Runners
Find out how to adjust your strength training to fit your marathon training plan.
Phase 3 (Weeks 9-12)
Marathon focus: Peak
Training Focus: Power
During the Peak Phase, the volume and intensity of the marathon training plan should be at its highest. Long runs may top out around 18-20 miles and additional runs during the week can leave runners pressed for time (and energy) for additional training. The entire focus now is to get the body prepared to bust through the wall at 20 miles and get to the finish line feeling strong.
Since the running volume is increased during the Peak Phase, the Power Phase in the weight room actually features a decrease in volume. This allows runners to still continue with strength training while not overloading their body with additional hours of work. With the volume in the weight room decreased, the Power Phase will focuse primarily on form and technique instead. The intensity is high since the lifts will be performed in an explosive fashion, but sets and reps are down to give runners a chance to recover.
During the Power Phase, runners should stick to total-body movements and perform them quickly and explosively. Exercises like jump squats, box jumps, and plyometric pushups are perfect since they still activate muscle fibers and help you maintain strength while not putting wear and tear on the muscular system. These body-weight plyometrics can also serve another function of improving running form. "This type of training (body-weight plyometrics) will improve muscle and tendon stiffness, which has been shown in the research to improve running economy," Kawamoto says. Since the focus is on form and intensity and not volume, sets and reps should be relatively low (think 2-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions) and rest times should be fairly long (2-3 minutes) between exercises.