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3 Tips for Adding Strength Training to Your Marathon Training

By Nicole Dobransky, 04/10/17, 10:30PM EDT


How to sneak it into your routine.

The same year that I ran my first marathon, the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, I also did my first unassisted pull-up. In fact, these two fitness milestones took place within months of one another. While many people think that there are two main kinds of recreational athletes: those who pound the pavement and those who pump iron, I’ve found that my body performs and feels best when I combine the two.

Back during my maiden voyage to the marathon, my strength-training program of choice was the home workout program P90X, which not only came with a six-days-a-week strength-training regimen, but a nutrition plan as well. I ran a half marathon the week before I started P90X and then set a new 5-minute PR on a tougher course just 10 weeks into the program — a clear sign that strength training was complimenting my training quite well.

After my first marathon, you guessed it — I was hooked. I went on to run many more half marathons (Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego still holds my half marathon PR!) and marathons, but I always have included strength training in my routine in some form, whether it be a reformer pilates, yoga, or barre class. Now that I’m a mom, I don’t have time for 1 hour + strength training workouts on top of my marathon training. Instead, I incorporate 30-minute 21 Day Fix workouts into my routine. Since these are short workouts that I do in my own garage, it’s hard for me to find an excuse to skip one when I know it’ll take just 35 minutes total to change into my workout clothes and complete it.

Here are three things that I’ve found work for me when combining running with strength training:

Do something you enjoy.


Strength training is beneficial for runners, but you won’t do it if you dread it. Find something that will keep you excited so you continue going back!

Give your legs a break a couple times a week. 

This is one of the reasons I really like 21 Day Fix — on days when my legs need some rest, I do an upper body workout or yoga. I’m still able to get strength training in without fatiguing my legs even more.

Don’t forget your core.


Runners not only need strong legs, they also need a strong core to support their bodies through lots of hard miles. An easy way to get this in is to simply do a plank hold after every run. At least once a week, time yourself and see how long you can hold it.

These are just three of the tips I have for runners who want to incorporate strength training into their routine. Head on over to my blog to check out more tips and to follow my continued journey to improve myself and my running. And if you’re curious, I can’t do a pull-up anymore, but I can do a plank with a 23-pound toddler on my back!

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