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When To Stop Strength Training Before A Marathon

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When To Stop Strength Training Before A Marathon


When To Stop Strength Training Before A Marathon: Strength training is an integral component of any well-rounded marathon training program, providing runners with numerous benefits such as improved muscle endurance, injury prevention, and enhanced overall performance. However, finding the right balance between strength training and running can be a delicate task, as excessive strength training can potentially hinder marathon performance if not managed appropriately. In this discussion, we will explore the crucial question of when to stop interval strength training before a marathon, delving into the key considerations that runners must take into account to optimize their training regimen and achieve their race-day goals. Balancing the demands of strength and endurance is a nuanced art, and understanding the ideal timing for tapering strength training can be the key to marathon success. As marathoners prepare for their grueling 26.2-mile journey, they often go through a period of tapering in the weeks leading up to the race. This tapering phase involves reducing the volume and intensity of training to allow the body to recover and peak on race day. While the reduction in running mileage during tapering is widely acknowledged, the role of strength training in this phase is often a subject of debate and confusion. 

On one hand, maintaining some level of strength training can be advantageous for preserving the gains in muscle strength and power that have been built up during the training cycle. On the other hand, overdoing it with strength training can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness, and potential injury, all of which can compromise marathon performance. Therefore, determining the right time to decrease or stop strength training in the marathon taper is a critical decision for runners. In this discussion, we will explore the factors that influence when to stop strength training before a marathon, including the individual runner’s fitness level, training history, and race goals. We will also consider how to strike the optimal balance between maintaining strength and allowing the body to fully recover, ensuring that runners are primed for their best performance on marathon day. By understanding the nuances of this delicate process, runners can make informed decisions about their strength training regimen, ultimately helping them achieve their marathon aspirations. 

In the world of marathon training, the timing of when to stop strength training is a personalized equation that varies from runner to runner. Factors such as the duration of one’s marathon training cycle, the type of strength training exercises performed, and the individual’s response to strength training all play crucial roles. For those with a longer marathon training cycle, which typically lasts 16 to 20 weeks, it may be beneficial to gradually reduce the intensity and frequency of strength training exercises as the race date approaches. This gradual tapering helps prevent abrupt changes in muscle conditioning and minimizes the risk of post-workout soreness, allowing the runner to focus more on running-specific workouts and recovery during the final weeks. The type of strength training exercises is also essential to consider. While compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges are great for building overall strength and power, they can be more demanding on the muscles and central nervous system.

How many days rest before marathon?

Tapering is a very individual thing, and different tapers work for different runners. Even many top elite athletes like to take one or two days off before a marathon. Experience and looking back at previous pleasing performances will help you find the taper strategy that works best for you.

The structure and duration of your marathon training plan play a significant role in deciding how many days of rest you need. Most marathon training plans incorporate a tapering period, typically lasting two to three weeks, during which you gradually reduce your training volume and intensity. As you approach race day, you’ll shift your focus from building fitness to ensuring that your body is fully recovered and ready to perform at its best.

Your experience as a marathon runner matters. First-time marathoners may benefit from a slightly longer taper with more rest days to ensure they are fully prepared both physically and mentally. In contrast, experienced marathoners who are accustomed to the rigors of training may find that they need fewer rest days in their taper.

Pay close attention to how your body responds to rest and reduced training volume during the taper. Some runners thrive on extra rest, feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the marathon, while others may become antsy and prefer to maintain a certain level of activity. It’s essential to trust your instincts and adjust your taper accordingly.

Your goals for the marathon also influence the taper duration. If your primary objective is simply to finish the race, you might opt for a more extended taper with additional rest days. However, if you have specific time goals or performance aspirations, you may choose a shorter taper to maintain some level of intensity and conditioning.

How many days of strength training during marathon training?

As runners, we’re used to logging miles every day or almost every day, but things are a little different when it comes to strength training. Runners should aim to complete 2-3 strength training sessions per week for their legs.

The key to incorporating strength training into your marathon preparation is finding the right balance between running and strength work. While both are essential, overemphasizing one at the expense of the other can lead to suboptimal results. The number of strength training days should complement your running schedule, not detract from it.

The phase of your marathon training plan plays a significant role in determining the frequency of strength training. In the early base-building phase, you can dedicate more time to strength work, with two to three sessions per week. However, as you progress into the later phases and the mileage intensifies, you may reduce strength training to one to two days per week during the peak of your training cycle.

Consider your personal needs and goals. Some runners may find that they benefit from more frequent strength training, while others may prefer to focus on quality over quantity. Your training should be tailored to address your weaknesses and areas that need improvement.

The type of strength training exercises you incorporate matters as well. Compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges are excellent for building overall strength and power and may require dedicated strength training sessions. However, bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, or resistance band workouts can be integrated more seamlessly into your running routine.

Can you train for a marathon while strength training?

Work on Strength Training While Working on Speed

As you get to the pace-specific training of your marathon plan, you’ll then want to go into “maintenance mode”, where you’ll focus more on retaining the strength you gained during the first stage of training instead of trying to grow it.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training helps strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments, reducing the risk of common running-related injuries like shin splints, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures. A stronger body can maintain better form and efficiency while running, allowing you to conserve energy and maintain a faster pace for longer. Building muscle strength can help you generate more power and speed, particularly useful in the latter stages of a marathon when fatigue sets in.

Integration into Your Marathon Training Plan

During the tapering phase (the last few weeks before your race), consider reducing the intensity and frequency of your strength training sessions to ensure that you are well-rested and recovered for the marathon. Incorporate strength training into your periodized training plan. Focus on building strength in the early phases of your training and gradually shift towards race-specific workouts as you approach the marathon date.

Balancing Act

Depending on your training phase and personal preferences, aim for 1 to 3 days of strength training per week. Early in your training cycle, you may dedicate more time to strength work, and as you near the marathon, you can reduce it to maintain freshness and prevent overtraining. Include a variety of exercises that target major muscle groups, with an emphasis on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and planks. Incorporate running-specific exercises like single-leg squats or step-ups to improve running form. Allow sufficient time for recovery between strength sessions and hard runs to prevent overuse injuries. Active recovery methods like stretching, foam rolling, and mobility exercises can aid in your recovery process.

When should I taper for a marathon?

A taper should start the day or the following week after your last longest run. Typically that run will be in the 20- to 23-mile range. Whenever you do start cutting back, you should look to reduce your long run into the low teens. An ideal number would be 13 to 14 miles.

The Purpose of Tapering

After weeks of intense training, your body needs time to recover from accumulated fatigue, muscle soreness, and any minor injuries or niggles. Tapering allows your muscles to replenish glycogen stores, which are essential for endurance during the marathon. It helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries and allows any minor injuries to heal. It provides an opportunity for mental preparation and focus, ensuring you are mentally fresh and ready for the race.

Duration of the Taper

The most common taper duration is two to three weeks, with the peak mileage weeks occurring 2-3 weeks before the marathon. The exact length of your taper can vary depending on your training plan, your body’s response to training, and your personal preferences. Some runners may benefit from a slightly longer or shorter taper.

What should you do 2 days before a marathon?

Studies have shown that training in the final days before the race not only will not help your performance, but may actually harm it by leaving you unnecessarily tired or sore. So take a break in the last two days or just go out and enjoy a short walk.

Rest and Recovery

Prioritize rest and recovery during these days. Avoid strenuous activities, especially long runs or intense workouts. Aim to get a good night’s sleep, ensuring you are well-rested. Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and overall race-day readiness.

Hydration and Nutrition

Continue to stay well-hydrated but avoid excessive fluid intake that may lead to overhydration. Monitor your urine color to ensure it’s pale yellow, indicating adequate hydration. Focus on eating balanced, easily digestible meals. Include carbohydrates to top off glycogen stores, lean proteins for muscle repair, and healthy fats. Avoid trying new or unfamiliar foods that could upset your stomach. Limit fiber intake to prevent gastrointestinal issues. Opt for familiar foods that you know agree with your digestive system.

Race Kit and Gear

Check and prepare all your race gear, including your running shoes, apparel, and any accessories like a GPS watch, heart rate monitor, or hydration belt. Lay out your race outfit and ensure everything is clean, comfortable, and ready to go. This eliminates last-minute stress on race morning.

Can a weightlifter run a marathon?

If you are a bodybuilder or powerlifter and think that completing a marathon is impossible, I have news for you! I did it! You must be ready to part with a sizeable proportion of your muscle mass that you spent so many hard hours accumulating, as well as work on improving your aerobic performance.

Weightlifters typically have a higher muscle mass and lower body fat percentage, which can make long-distance running more physically demanding. The extra muscle can add weight and require more energy to carry during the marathon. However, with proper training and nutrition, this challenge can be overcome.

Transitioning from a primarily strength-based training routine to a marathon training program will require time and adjustment. You’ll need to shift your focus from heavy lifting to building endurance through running. This transition typically involves reducing the intensity and frequency of weightlifting sessions while increasing the volume and intensity of running workouts.

Marathon running demands a well-conditioned cardiovascular system. Weightlifters may need to work on improving their aerobic capacity to meet the demands of long-distance running. Incorporating regular cardiovascular workouts, such as running, cycling, or swimming, can help in this regard.

Long-distance running can put significant stress on the joints, particularly the knees and hips. Weightlifters often have strong joints, but they may still need to adapt to the repetitive impact of running. Gradual mileage increases, proper footwear, and attention to running form are essential for injury prevention.

Do marathon runners need strength training?

It improves running form and economy.

Long training runs, marathons, and ultras take overall muscle strength. If you feel like you’re having trouble keeping good running form or your lower back is aching in the last few miles of your long run it’s probably because you need to build stronger muscles.

 Injury Prevention

Strength training helps build muscle strength and stability around the joints, reducing the risk of common running-related injuries such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures.

Improved Running Economy

Strength training can enhance running economy by improving muscle efficiency and coordination. Stronger muscles help you maintain proper running form for longer periods, conserving energy during a marathon.

Power and Speed

Strength training can boost your power and speed, which can be especially beneficial in the latter stages of a marathon when fatigue sets in. Stronger leg muscles enable you to generate more force with each stride, potentially helping you maintain your pace.

Muscle Balance

Running predominantly engages certain muscle groups, which can lead to muscle imbalances. Strength training allows you to work on neglected muscle groups, helping maintain balance and reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

Should I squat while training for a marathon?

As well as reducing the risk of injury, back squatting can help with increasing your performance in distance running. Back squatting a moderate or light amount of weight can help a runner in developing a faster tempo and being able to go for longer runs.

Considerations for Squatting During Marathon Training

Proper Technique: It’s crucial to perform squats with proper form to avoid injury. Incorrect squatting technique can strain the lower back or knees, which could impact your running.

Balancing Volume: Balance the volume and intensity of your squat workouts with your running schedule. Avoid heavy squat sessions too close to key running workouts or long runs to prevent muscle fatigue.

Recovery: Allow adequate recovery time between squat sessions and hard running workouts to avoid overtraining and ensure that your muscles are fresh for your runs.

Periodization: Consider incorporating squats into your periodized training plan. Focus on strength building during the early phases of training and transition to more race-specific workouts as you get closer to the marathon date.

When To Stop Strength Training Before A Marathon


Marathon training is a complex puzzle, and strength training is just one piece of the larger picture. Finding the right balance between building strength and allowing for adequate recovery is essential for peak marathon performance. Runners should take into account the length of their training cycle, the type of strength training exercises they are performing, and their personal response to strength training. Gradual tapering in the weeks leading up to the race, along with transitioning to lighter exercises or mobility work, can help strike the right balance. Ultimately, the key is to tailor the strength training approach to one’s specific needs and preferences. Some runners may find that maintaining strength training closer to the race date benefits them, while others may choose to reduce it earlier. Flexibility and adaptability are essential in marathon training, as each runner’s body responds differently.

By making informed decisions about when to stop strength training, marathoners can optimize their training regimen, reduce the risk of overtraining, and ensure they are in the best possible shape to achieve their marathon goals. The journey to the marathon finish line is not just about the miles run but also about the well-balanced preparation that includes strength training, recovery, and careful planning. In the world of marathon training, the ultimate goal is to arrive at the starting line feeling physically prepared, mentally sharp, and injury-free. Achieving this balance is like fine-tuning a musical instrument, requiring meticulous attention to detail. While strength training is a valuable tool in a runner’s arsenal, knowing when to taper or stop is an art that can significantly impact marathon performance. As we’ve discussed, the decision of when to stop strength training is highly individualized and should be based on a runner’s unique circumstances. It depends on the duration of their training cycle, the nature of their strength training routine, and their body’s response to the workouts. 

This process often involves a certain degree of experimentation and adaptation. What’s clear, however, is that the ideal timing for stopping strength training before a marathon is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s about finding the sweet spot that allows runners to maintain the benefits of their strength training efforts while avoiding fatigue, soreness, and the risk of injury. In the final analysis, successful marathon preparation is about achieving harmony among various training components—endurance, strength, nutrition, and rest. By understanding when to adjust their strength training routine in accordance with their marathon timeline, runners can fine-tune this harmony, enhancing their chances of a successful and fulfilling marathon experience. So, remember, in the journey to the marathon finish line, the timing of when to stop strength training is one of the many notes in the symphony of preparation, each contributing to the runner’s overall performance and satisfaction on race day.

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