Lifting weights if you’re training for marathon always helps. As a rule, strength training for half the number of days that one runs each week is advisable. For example, if you’re running four times a week, aim for two lifting sessions. there are more specific exercises that will contribute to your progress. Anything that helps increase the strength and power output of your body, especially legs, will work in your favour. Plus, the right training is going to help you avoid injury and manage wear and tear.
Step-Up: This exercise is great for both building strength and improving explosiveness in legs of marathon runners. Explosiveness helps boost your ground contact time. Your feet don’t need as much time to strike the ground and keep you running. A plyo box or a sturdy bench or chair is needed for this workout. Step up with one foot onto the box and jump at the top, using your arms to drive you upward. One can either repeat the same side stepping up or alternate it with other leg. Step height can be two feet at least or depending upon one’s comfort (10-15 reps each, two sets).
Lateral Band Walks: This compound movement strengthens your hips, glutes, and abductors. It’s a great exercise for improving stability in the hips and knees by using the resistance band. Take a resistance band and place it around your legs, above your knees. Stand shoulder width apart. Get into half squat position and walk sideways, keeping the tension on the band throughout (15-25 steps each side, two sets).
Leg raises: Strengthens your hip flexors which are responsible for knee lift when you run. Also works the lower abdominals for a more stable torso. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides or below your bottom to support your lower back. Bring your feet together and raise them up as close to 90-degree. Lower them slowly till an inch above the floor and repeat. Easier version, perform the exercise using one leg at a time (15-20 reps, two sets).
Dead Bug: Lay on your back with your hands extended upwards, arms straight. Lift your feet so that your hips and knees are bent at 90 degrees. Your shins should be parallel to the floor. Slowly, straighten one leg at a time, lowering the foot to just above the floor. Bring it back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Dead bugs are excellent for building core strength, which is vital in marathon running (10 reps each side, two sets).
People with knee or other issues should consult an expert before starting the program.
Note: Check with your doctor before beginning any exercises.
(The writer is ACSM and Yoga Alliance certified personal and group trainer)