Portlandathon is less than five weeks away! In addition, a collection of other world class marathons is taking place this fall including Berlin, Chicago, New York, and the US marathon championships in Sacramento on December 2nd.
To finish any marathon, one has to be fit, fast, and fearless as PRC owner Dave Harkin would say. Durability—i.e., training and racing without injury—is another important factor to throw into the mix. After all, you can only nab that PR if you make it to the starting line unscathed.
The durability of runners has been studied extensively, and one approach that has shown tremendous benefits is combining resistance training with endurance training.
So how does one incorporate the world of dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells into an already packed marathon training schedule?
The safe answer is to start slowly and gradually increase the load and frequency of your routine, incorporating your resistance training right after your harder speed and tempo sessions to allow for maximal recovery between faster workouts.
Key areas to target are the ones most commonly aggravated when you increase your mileage volume such as glutes, hamstrings, and ankle plantar flexors—muscles commonly referred to as the posterior chain.
There are numerous strength based activities that can accomplish the goal of improving durability, but here is a group of single leg, bodyweight activities that can be performed nearly anywhere.
Multidirectional Lunges – Forward, Reverse, Side to Side. My preference is to alternate legs and go slow as the benefit lies in the total amount of time under tension.
Single-leg Step-ups – These are especially helpful for those running in races with a large amount of vertical gain such as trail marathons and ultramarathons. Focus on keeping one foot on the platform while driving the opposite knee up to 90 degrees.
Single-leg Calf Raises – When comparing young versus old, the strength of the ankle plantar flexors takes the biggest hit. To avoid achilles and plantar fascia issues, make this a staple in your master’s regimen.
Single-leg Glute Bridges – To improve the effectiveness of this exercise, elevate your leg on a platform to increase the total excursion of your hip. Keep your planted foot close to your hips, bring your toes up, and press down through your heel.
Start with two to three rounds of 10–15 repetitions using body weight for resistance and increasing the weight as you adapt and develop strength. It is to be expected that you may experience some soreness the first couple of times after going through this routine, but trust the process and embrace your newfound path to durability!