Making the Gym part of the Marathon Plan

Marathon training can be so much more than just getting out there and running all of the time. For many of us, we also go to our physiotherapists and RMTs more often, eat a ton of food and also stretch, roll and ice our bodies. Some of the things us runners do are for prevention of injury and maintaining a healthy body during training. I’ve mentioned this before, but a common trend I see with my marathon running friends is acknowledging the lack of strength and cross training in their training plans. It seems to be one of those “New Year’s resolutions” that gets either forgotten or put on the back burner when we face time crunches.

Many of us are very busy people that really struggle to just get the running portion of training completed each week. Last year, while training for NYC, I did not go to the gym at all. I barely did any strength or cross training and that came back to bite me in the bottom when my IT band flared up. I spent the last four weeks of marathon training getting my hip and glutes working again to avoid my IT band getting really bad during the marathon. Any injury/niggle I’ve had always comes back to the same thing: muscle imbalances and lack of strength in certain areas. What I learned from focusing on strength training during the spring season was that I could indeed get faster by focusing more on just running the distance. In terms of 5 and 10K races, I have zero issues running the distance: now I want to run those distances faster.

When creating my training plan for STWM – I pretty much kept the same running workouts that I ran last year – except swapped some of the hill workouts with tempo runs. Sticking with four runs a week works for me. I also made sure to add strength/cross training to every single week, minus the taper week. Strength/Cross training can mean a few different things. At GoodLife, I plan on attending some BodyFlow classes during July as my work schedule is more flexible. I also will be focusing on core and upper body strength, but not ignoring those pesky glute muscles that like to relax far too often.

What are some ideas for you to consider when trying to add some gym time

to your running training?


1) Try out a few different classes

There are so many different options at GoodLife and you could easily rotate between a few classes. My favorites are BodyFlow and Zumba.

2) Schedule it in

Don’t just promise yourself that you will go out and strength train – actually write “gym time” in your training plans. Cross/Strength training should not be an after thought.

3) Get an assessment from a Personal Trainer/schedule PT time

Having an assessment done by one of the GoodLife personal trainers confirmed a few muscle imbalances that existed. Having a PT make a plan specifically for you could do wonders for your training.

4) Free A/C?

Ok, not really an “idea” but more of a positive of getting yourself to the gym, especially in those hot summer months. There is also access to ice, cold water, showers and TVs. Although I don’t like running long runs on the treadmill, I might run a few of my running workouts on the treadmill to avoid running in the hot sun.

5) See the results

Do you keep track of your training on an online tracking site, journal or a blog? Take note of how you feel once you start strength training. Does your running feel easier? Are you able to keep your running form in tip-top shape? Are you magically getting faster? Do the owwies feel better?

Write down what you experience and when it is time for race day – see what happens.

I’m hoping that with including strength and cross training in my marathon training plan, that I will smash that 5:40 marathon time from last year and stay injury free!


This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own

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  1. Lisa @ Lulus Big Adventure

    You’re right — cross & strength is so important but usually gets put on the back burner for me. One of my goals for this coming year (I start my new job on July 1 so I’m counting it as a new year haha) is to really focus more on the strength — even if it means less time for cross training. It’s just so important for injury prevention and feeling healthy and strong.
    Lisa @ Lulus Big Adventure recently posted…Life in Kamloops (So Far)My Profile

    1. ~Rebecca~ (Post author)

      That’s my thinking – if I ran 5x a week and didn’t strength train, I will end up injured. I know I can run the marathon distance. I want to do it better this time 🙂


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