Ever finish your marathon training looking less fit than you started? Or even GAIN weight while marathon or half marathon training?
That’s science! And there’s nothing wrong with it. Stereotypical “fit looking” people have more muscle. When we run marathons our goal is to push our boundaries, see how fast we can run and what we’re capable of. NOT build muscle.
Let’s normalize NOT looking our fittest post marathon.
But I think many of us think: I’m exercising so much, I’m going to look the best I ever have!!!
Why It’s Hard to Build Muscle While Marathon Training
Studies show that long distance running causes significant muscle damage, inhibiting muscle growth. So while your legs may be sore after that long run, you’re actually breaking down more muscle than growing.
While strength training is a necessary component for all half marathon and marathon training schedules, to truly build muscle and work on imbalances, it can be beneficial to take a strength training focused off season between training seasons. During this off season, you’ll lift more, run (a little) less, and your key workouts will be running drills and strides instead of tempo runs.
The above off season was earlier this year after I qualified for the Boston marathon at Revel Big Bear in November of 2022. I did the BODi program Sure Thing and ran less, ate more protein and veggies (loosely following Gut Protocol) and gained muscle! After my strength based off season, I felt revived and ready to conquer another demanding training season.
Some benefits of a strength training off season for marathoners:
- Allows the body to recover & get stronger for the following training cycle
- Reduces mental burnout in runners in the long term
- Allows the runner to improve running form and correct muscle imbalances
- Allows a runner to focus on nutrition & body composition goals without sacricing performance.
A great running off season has the following components:
- More strength training sessions
- Reduced running mileage and intensity
- Focus on drills and form in short run workouts
- Fun, variety & flexibility! This is your time to meet up with friends, try new routes and be a little less strict with your schedule.
Did you recently race and need to switch things up & want to get stronger?
Join my 4 Week ‘Run Strong’ Off Season Bootcamp!
I’ll provide effective & fun strength workouts that will help you build muscle, 2 professional run + strength schedules, guidance on how to maximize your off season and a fun community!! Includes a short fit test to measure your strength gains!