The start of marathon season is a little over two months away with the Boston Marathon kicking it off on April 15, 2013. As runners prepare for any marathon it’s obvious that they develop their pace and build up their miles so they are prepared for the 26.2 miles that the race requires for completion.
It is often overlooked that a sound strength program is just as important as the running part of the program. Research has shown that muscle damage will last for up to one week following the marathon. Running for long distances also can put a lot of stress on the bones and joints in the knees and back.
The strength program should primarily focus on the core muscles, gluteus muscles, quads and hamstrings. Upper body workouts are still needed but not with the same focus. Core stability is very important for a runner because it will dictate their posture for the race. The lower body muscles need to be strong and have the strength endurance for each step of the race.
The core muscles that need to be strengthened are the transversus abdominis. This can easily be done with planks, side planks and push ups. Planks can be done for time, such as 30 seconds. Push ups are usually done in the rep range of 10 to 20. To add difficulty to these without increasing time or reps try elevating your feet.
The strength of the gluteus muscles, quads and hamstrings determine how much force is applied to the ground with each step. Each step that a runner takes these muscles stretch as the foot hits the ground and contract to push off of the ground into the next step. Exercises to strengthen these muscles include squats, lunge variations and supine bridges.
Upper body exercises should be basic and follow the push/pull mentality. For example shoulder press/chin up and dumbbell chest press/one arm dumbbell row.
While the core exercises can be done everyday the strength exercises need to be done only two days a week. The upper body routine would call for two sets and 10 to 12 reps for each exercise. The lower body exercises should be done for three sets of 12 reps. As the race date gets closer lower the sets to two but raise the reps to 15.
To help for quicker recovery between the running and strength training workouts stretching is very important. Other forms of recovery include massage and foam rolling. This should be done daily for about 20 to 30 minutes. Recovery helps to keep the muscles healthy and prolong fatigue.