As marathon season fast approaches and more and more people start to pound the pavements we question whether lifting weights can replace mileage when it comes to marathon training?

People often think that lifting weights gets you big and bulky however with an effective plan and the right workouts it would be an anomaly for you to turn into a body builder. A high intensity running and S&C programme can be one of the most effective ways of ensuring that you remain injury free. With long slow distance running, dysfunction can creep up on you, and it can be difficult to get rid of that ingrained pattern of movement you have become accustomed to. A lot of people are running with a limited range of motion, and then sitting at their desks in a limited range of motion. Therefore, they’re neglecting all these other things that S&C largely deals with. When squatting for example you have to get into the full hip range of motion, then if you are running for an hour it is going to be much easier to recover from the activity.

The majority of the time when you finish a marathon you are not out of breathe but you are in pain. You are usually in that pain because your body is broken down. A good S&C programme will mean you don’t break down as quickly, and that you recover quicker at the end.

We would say the minimum times you should be doing a weight lifting session is twice a week. The maximum is probably four times a week. But it depends a lot on the individual, and what their history is. One thing we would say, is that once a week is probably not enough. In every endurance sport, there are people who think doing S&C/yoga/mobility work is something that can happen once a week and that’s like eating healthily once a week.

If you don’t have access to a gym or weights then there are workouts that you can do at home. Most people when training for a marathon prefer to run multiple times a week and negate any strength training and we are not saying that your running won’t improve from this, however thinking long term about the impact on the body and the benefits in recovery we would certainly recommend adding in a few well structured and relevant strength sessions.