Running a marathon while lifting weights

The following is from the Jim Wendler forum.  The athlete has never run a marathon before, but has lifting experience. I have a question about weight training for a marathon.  Marathons aren’t the only way to get back into running.

This one has been on my mind for quite some time. As if I were training for a marathon, I sketched out a very general program for myself. In addition, this fits with some of the training recommendations I made to some sprinters at London.

Follow these steps:

1. Plan out the running program for the next six to eight weeks. Once you have done that, start doing it. Based on your shape, your background, etc. – I do not know these things and only you do, so this is the first thing to consider.

2. In the first four weeks of running, aim to run three days/week. You shouldn’t lift if you can’t do it. Take it easy on the lifting and limit it to two days a week if your body is revolting. You need to acclimate to running stress during the first month.

Providing assistance

During the first part of the training, you will do three assistance movements per day. Make sure you only do movements that you are familiar with (don’t introduce any new ones), nothing that will hinder recovery, and everything that is physically and mentally easy for you. Push and pull assistance movements must be performed each day. GHRs and abdominal work should be the third movement. Choose one exercise per workout, such as hanging leg raises, leg raises, or roman chair sit-ups. There should only be 2-3 sets of each (GHR/ab) per workout; maybe 10-25 reps total.

If you don’t get sore or let it affect your running/recovery, you can do whatever you want with your upper body push/pull.

Lifts of the main building

  • All reps of the trap bar must be fast, explosive, and with complete focus. A set would never exceed five repetitions for me.
  • I wouldn’t do BBB or anything similar on Bench/Press, but you can go nuts on these (PR sets). You can let the assistance be your volume.

At this point, the key to training is preparing your body for stress and not doing anything stupid. My point has been repeated a thousand times, but it seems no one is listening. As soon as you get over that hump, you can adjust your training to suit your daily readiness.

Feeling good means you’re doing something right. When people feel good, they often complain. I’m all for doing stupid things, but they must be done carefully and rarely. You will dig yourself a hole that will take you weeks/months to get out if you screw with your recovery at this point.

When evaluating athletes’ readiness, I use the trap bar (bar speed) chins/pull-ups and bench press. You will smash your training if you find the readiness test(s) you need for yourself. If you leave it to chance, you’ll be fighting a war on two fronts and never reach the finish line.

Running, Lifting, and Becoming a Marine Officer may also be of interest to you.

Strengthen your muscles

When I train younger kids, I am reminded of what training used to be like AND what training is like for many people. During all of the years of training, it’s easy to forget or romanticize the past. Even when I was very young, I could have built muscles better, even though getting stronger was always my priority. Getting stronger would have been possible if I had built muscle.

Before everyone goes Ronnie Coleman, “building muscle” does not mean you become a bodybuilder. You apply some bodybuilding methods to your training and do so appropriately. You also need to eat so that you can build muscle. To facilitate a strength program, assistance work is done in a bodybuilding style. In other words, the muscle should be worked (not the movement).

Following Boyd Epley’s talk, building muscle became a priority for me as a coach. Muscle builds strength for power athletes, especially young ones. For many young lifters (or new lifters…not necessarily young), building muscle is the key to becoming stronger. Especially with the press and bench press. Compared to the squat and deadlift, these lifts progress slower. One of the reasons is that the lifter has a very small upper body mass.

Strength and size must always be balanced. When you are not eating/training to build muscle, and your bench/press is in the dumper, maybe it’s time to build some muscle on the body and see if that helps.

Ensure that your program increases your volume and fits your schedule.  Don’t modify it or try to blend different programs together if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Depending on your current ability, you can increase volume with bodyweight movements or weights, but be prepared to adjust your recovery for some increased soreness.  Plan and stick to it for at least three months.  Keeping a training log is also a good idea!  Make your own inexpensive notebook and keep notes in it. Last but not least – EAT.