Considering how much running you have to do to train for a marathon, you might get slightly angry at the idea that you should fit in some extra, different exercise too. However, if you skip out on strength and conditioning work entirely, you’ll increase your risk of injury and won’t put your body in the best position to succeed on race day, whether your aim is just to get round the course or set a new PB.
The good news is you don’t have to do loads of other workouts – a short routine like the one below done two or three times a week will go a long way to strengthening your body enough to handle the requirements of running.
This workout has been created by Amy Hughes, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in Manchester (opens in new tab) who is well acquainted with the demands of marathons, having run 53 of them in 53 days back in 2014.
“Strength training is essential for runners,” says Hughes. “Endurance running puts strain on your joints, ligaments and tendons from repetitive impact, so strength work is crucial to help your body handle that. Injuries can also often occur from imbalances so conditioning helps even out any muscular imbalances. Plus, the stronger you are the more power, speed and endurance you have – it's that simple.
“Runners also forget about core work. I can't stress how important it is to include this. Your core is the focal point of your whole body. If your core is strong, everything else becomes strong. Your posture improves and it means you can run faster for longer.”
Home Workout For Marathon Runners
Stand with your centre of balance over your heels. Keeping your back straight, sit back and down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Then drive back up through your heels to standing.
Sit with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put your palms on the floor behind you and raise your hips so you’re supported by your hands and feet. Keep your hips up as you walk three steps to the left on your hands and feet, then three steps to the right.
Reverse lunge with rotation
From standing, take a big step back with your left leg and lower until both knees are bent at 90°. Then twist your torso to the right, rotate back to centre and push back up to standing. Then repeat but lead with your right leg and twist to your left.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Drop into a squat, then power back up so your feet leave the ground, jumping as high as you can. Land softly and repeat.
Lie face down supported on your forearms and toes, with your body forming a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold that position.
Plank with knee tuck
Get into a plank position, then bring your right knee up to your right elbow and hold for two seconds. Then take it back and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips until you form a straight line between your shoulders, hips and knees. Lower slowly under control. For the first 60 seconds continue to raise and lower your hips as above, and then for the final 20 seconds maintain the hips-raised position and gently pulse them up and down.
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Sets 3 Time 30sec Rest 30sec
Run on the spot, lifting your knees above waist height.
Step up onto a bench or chair – making sure it’s stable – then step down, alternating your leading foot with each rep. Keep your torso upright as you step up. Hold weights by your sides if you have them.
Lie on your back with your hands by your temples. Raise your shoulders and legs just off the ground, then bring one knee up to your chest, twisting your torso as you do so to bring the opposite elbow up and over towards the knee. Return to the starting position, then repeat with the opposite limbs. Perform the crunches speedily to make the most of the 30-second interval, and be careful not to pull your head up.
Lie on your back with your legs together and straight. Raise your legs as high as you can, then lift your torso to form a V-shape with your body. Hold this position. If it’s proving too tough you can try a modified V-sit, where you bend the legs at the knees.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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