Marathon Plan: Strength Training

Running, running, and nothing but running. Sounds heavenly doesn't it? But sadly that way injury lies. If you want your body to be fit for purpose, whether it be nailing your first 5K or smashing a marathon PB, it's crucial to ensure that you're strong enough to cope with the training.

Working at least one strength training session into your weekly schedule pays real dividends, in terms of improved performance, greater endurance and faster overall speed - but it also ensures that you'll spend more time clocking up the miles and less time crocked on the sofa. Here's our choice of the best ones for runners; all are designed to toughen you up without adding unwanted bulk.

Bodyweight Squat

  • Feet hip width apart with hands behind head
  • Engage core, back straight, look straight ahead
  • Squat down placing weight on heels, keeping knees above the feet, not in front.
  • Return to upright and repeat

Crunch

  • Lie on back, knees drawn up, feet flat on the floor
  • Place hands behind head for support but not leverage
  • Use abs to draw your head up towards the knees, and then lower slowly

Dumbbell Curls

  • Using two 5kg weights, place one in each hand, tuck arms in close to side
  • Start with one arm straight, and the other curled up with weight a chest height 
  • Lower one weight while raising the other. Continue in a slow and controlled way

Military Press

  • Using two 5kg weights, lift them up so they are in front of the chest, horizontal to ground.
  • Now slowly raise to shoulder height, outside the shoulders, keeping upper arms parallel to floor and elbows at 180 degrees. 
  • Slowly push the weights upwards to meet above the head with arms stretched out fully. 
  • Lower again to starting position.

Press Up

  • Lie face down on the floor, raise yourself up onto hands and toes
  • Feet should be hip width apart, hands shoulder width apart, directly under shoulders, and fingers pointing forwards
  • With bum in alignment to a straight back, bend at the arms to lower yourself down to the floor and back up. Repeat.
  • Get down on hands and knees, with a straight back
  • Slowly kick your left leg out backwards and upwards behind you until fully ex- tended, then pull back in. After several reps repeat on other leg
  • Make sure your weight stays even split and that you don't sway from side to side. Move the leg from the hips.

Rotating Lunge

  • Perform as a normal lunge but, with arms outstretched and your chest puffed out, twist your torso round to the side.
  • For example, if you are lunging with your left leg forward, then twist your torso round to the right.

Roll Backwards

  • Sit on the floor, draw your knees up to your chin and circle them with your arms
  • Keeping hold of your knees rool onto your back as far as you can go, before pausing fractionally at the top and retunring upright again. 
  • Try to control the movement with your abs and don't use momentum to rock
  • Stand with feet a hand's width apart and hands either on back of head or on hips
  • Take an exaggerated step forward with the right foot and on landing bend the left knee down to the floor without quite touching
  • Push up to standing through the right foot, and bring the left foot through in a similar exaggerated step, and drop right knee to floor. Continue in this manner

Squat Thrust

  • Crouch on the floor with hands on the ground and feet tucked in behind them
  • Pushing your hands into the floor jump back with your feet and land on your toes with the body fully extended. 
  • Now jump back, tucking your legs in so feet land back just being your hands.