Thursday, July 22, 2010

Speed Work & Weight Training for Marathons

I have the next 2 weekends off from races and during these long *ha* lulls, I like to kick up my training and really focus in on speed work and resistanec/weight training. So to give a little sample of my "off" week, this is what's happening...

Day 1 Monday- Maintenance 6 miles- Still a little dead in the legs from Saturdays race (and the 4 race weekends before it) so I take a nice easy 6 mile run to give the legs a stretch and recovery. I do NOT bring a watch on purpose-- I'm far too competative to do an easy run with a watch.
Why? Maintenance runs are good for getting your milieage in without breakingdown your body further. They also help with recovery if done without too much stress on the legs.

Day 2 Tuesday- All stretched and recovered? Ok, good! Speed work Sess- Treadmill Mile Repeats!!!!
-1/2 Mile Warm up @ 8:40 pace
-1 Mile Repeat @ 7:30 Pace (0.15 mile rest between)
-1 Mile Repeat @ 7:20 Pace (0.15 mile rest between)
-1 Mile Repeat @ 7:15 Pace (0.15 mile rest  plus a jog to the water fountain)
-1 Mile Repeat @ 7:00 Pace jog down the stairs to the eliptical...
-1 Mile easy eliptical at high arch-- gives the legs a good stretch after the repeats
Why? Speed work will make a huge difference in your time! It will make your body more comfortable to run at faster paces, which allows you to run for longer at your target pace. My target time is about 8 min/mile (3:30 marathon). The above paces don't seem so hard, but the more intervals you add in, the harder it is to get the legs going again). I'll add in about 2-3 more intervals, then try and quicken the paces.

Day 3 Wednesday- Legs Hurting? Perfect- now let's build 'em back up! Weight Train Intervals!
Note: Intervals include a hard mile+ of cardio at a fast pace to get toward max heart rate. This is followed by 2 types of weight training-- the first is usually some sort of total body lift and can get the heart rate going again. Between those sets I'll pick another lift exercise that is targeted on 1 body part. Then get back to the cardio and repeat! Why do this? Getting the heart rate to jump up and down is a great way to burn calories and prevent bulky muscle weight gain. Sound good? Good!

Interval 1:
-Cardio: 2 Mile warm up to the gym
-Full Body Lift: BOSU Ball Squat with Overhead Press (2 sets of 15-20) For extra fun I like to turn the BOSU ball over so I'm standing on the flat part and trying to balance on the dome. I found this fun video below...
-Target Lift: Rows- Standing with knees bent and bent over at a 45-degree angle, keep your back flat, raise and lower free weights held in each hand. Focus on pulling with your back muscles. (3 sets of 15-20). Optional: While you're already on the BOSU ball, stay on and do your Target lift on here to improve balance and work those stability muscles.

How to Do a Squat & Overhead Shoulder Press Combinations With a Bosu Ball -- powered by

Interval 2:
Cardio: 1 Mile on Eliptical
Full Body Lift: Single Leg BOSU Ball Squats with Barbell Row. 2 set of 8 on each leg
Description: Stand with 1 foot on the upside down BOSU ball (this may take some time to work up to) holding a barbell with your arms resting in front of you, palms in. Squat with 1 leg then as you rise, pull the barbell upward toward your shoulder and then lower back down and repeat the squat.
Target Lift: Reverse Flys 2 Sets of 15-20 Reps
I do these while sitting on a bench and leaning over so my stomach is pretty much touching my legs. This helps to really target those lats that help us use our arms to power through the marathon. Hold the weight with your arms at a 90-degree angle (while leaning over, they should be around your knees). Lift your arms out to the side, squeezing your shoulder blades together, then lower.
Note: Ryan Hall picked this exercise to highlight in his routine in a recent RW article.

Interval 3:
Cardio: 1 Mile on Eliptical
Full Body Lift: Walking Lunges with Overhead Press (2 X ~20 steps)
Description: I'm sure everybody knows what walking lunges are, but be sure to lift your leg up high and extend out as far as you can-- this gives you a little more kick to your upper hamstring, which is a hard place to target. As you come up, do and overhead press with either 2 dumbells are the barbell you should be holding on your back for your lunges. Wanna go crazy? Do the lunges backwards-- you may want a spotter.
Target Lift: Cable Rows 2 sets of 10 (10 right, 10 left, 10 together)
These can be done by simply sitting in front of a cable machine and pulling backward. To get a really good burn, I use the machine with 2 handle option. I'll pull with the right, then with the left, then with both at once. Really focus in on contracting the back as you pull.

Interval 4:
Cardio: 1 Mile on Arc Trainer (increasing the height every 30 seconds)
Full Body: None
Target Lift: Abs (mix it up)
Target Lift: Inner and outter thigh raises. I do these to help strengthen my hips, as they've been giving me issues lately.

Cool Down: 1/2 Mile Run Home (with very wobbly legs)

Why? Lifting makes your more powerful on hills, and does a great job at keeping you strong to avoid injuries!!! I do as many exercises on upside down BOSU balls so I can really work the stability muscles in my ankles-- which are highly prone to injury for marathoners. Note: In this workout I chose my shoulders and back for my "Target" muscle group-- these can be replaced with exercises for any target muscle group you want. I choose back, lats, and shoulders because they're helpful when running to drive you forward-- and it looks good in a baithing suit when your back is toned ;)

Day 4 Thursday- Long Run
Today I would either take a rest day then have a very long run on Saturday OR I can do my long run tonight (10-13 miles) if I'm feeling good. I'm a glutton for punishment, so I'm choosing today, wobbly legs and all.

Day 5-7 Plans?
Day 5: Maintenance run of 7 miles followed by some cardio and LIGHT lifting
Day 6: Rest!
Day 7: Tempo Run! Followed by a similar (but not as intense) weight routine as above. Total ~ 8-10 Miles plus weights.

Happy Running... and Weight Training!
"Run to Win" -Meb


  1. That's awesome. I'm only on marathon #5 but I don't know how you don't get burned out! Maybe when you only race 2 a year, it's too much training and not enough racing. Either way, great job!! I'm super impressed!

  2. This is awesome!! I'm taking your tips in and working to put them into action. Thanks so much

  3. Good interval training and have a good wekend.

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