Many people believe that weight lifting and marathons require totally separate goals and methods for training. While this is true to a certain extent, weight lifting has plenty of advantages which can help a marathon runner in his or her running. Looking at the pros and cons of weight lifting while training for a marathon can help you decide which fitness plan is right for you.
First off, it should be noted that you rarely see professional bodybuilder sized weight lifters out running. This is because at a certain level, all of the extra muscle mass that bodybuilders have will slow down their running. This is why in football, running backs are often some of the smallest (albeit still fit and muscular) players on the team. Weight lifting to a certain extent is advantageous for runners, but if you are planning to bulk up like Arnold Schwarzenegger, weight lifting and marathons may not be compatible for you.
One of the biggest advantages of weight lifting and marathons as a runner is the fact that weight lifting has been scientifically proven to be one of the most efficient ways to burn body fat. As a runner, being lean is a very high priority goal as extra fat weighs you down while offering no competitive benefit. Light to moderate weight lifting will help you get the lowest body fat possible which is a huge plus when you are trying to lower your running times.
Another benefit of weight lifting and marathons is the fact that you can specifically focus on muscles that are going to increase your abilities in running. While a moderate level of upper body exercise is acceptable, weight lifters should be sure to focus heavily on their core and legs if hoping to increase their running abilities. A strong core is integral for our balance, coordination and a whole spectrum of other things that are quite important for all runners. Working on a solid midsection is great training for runners and will surely help you shave time off of your runs.
Don’t Forget the Legs
Just as important as exercising your core, weight training with your legs is going to also show massive speed improvements. While running helps add size to your legs, it focuses more on making your muscles lean. Weight lifting will help you add definite size to the important muscles all throughout your leg. This type of size increase (as long as you do not go too large at least) will give you more power with your legs and increase your running capability. Also, this increase in muscle size could potentially give you more stamina and the ability to run further for longer.
One thing that runners will need to worry about when combining weight lifting and marathons is the fact that your body needs rest in order to work at one hundred percent. Marathon running is very difficult work for your body and it takes a lot of energy both in reserve and afterwards to heal itself. Heavy weight lifting is also very energy intensive so having the two activities compete with each other for energy can be too much for your body. This provides another reason why weight lifting at extreme levels is harmful to your running. Avoid body building for a few weeks prior to running a marathon in order to ensure that your body is perfectly healed and ready to run. Many runners mistakenly continue weight lifting with their upper body right up until a marathon thinking that since the muscles aren’t used for running, it can’t hurt their times. Their error is that their upper body needs energy to heal itself and so it steals it away from the lower body, hindering its running performance.
Learn more about running and weight lifting at healthscapes.org. They have an abundance of imformation on all things fitness.