QUESTION: I have been following your Marathon Novice I training for a couple of weeks now. Things are going good, especially since I bought a new pair of running shoes a few days ago. I do have one question though, it's about strength training.
If I start a strength training regimen, I'd like it to compliment the marathon plan. I'm just worried that if I start a plan like CrossFit, for instance, it may leave me worn out when it comes time for my runs. Right now, the only time I get any exercise is when I'm running, so I'd really like to implement some core strength workouts into my weekly routine. Could you recommend a strength workout for me? I'm thinking the best days to do strength training would be Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday after cross training.
HAL’SANSWER: If you weren’t a stranger to strength training, I would say, go ahead on those days. But you don't want to start strength training (if you never have done it before) at the same time you start a marathon training program. That's putting you into Double Jeopardy. The marathon training is going to be challenging enough, especially as the long miles get into the double digits. While I wouldn't hesitate to prescribe strength training for someone familiar with the gym, if that is not you, then, no!
Once you have finished your marathon and have had several weeks to rest and recover, then that would be the time to think of strength training, particularly the core strength workouts that you mention above. Increasing strength is good both for run performance but also (and particularly) for general fitness. Nevertheless, wait to introduce strength training when your mileage is lower than during the marathon build- up.
Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website.