Adding Strength Training to a Marathon Training Plan


Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I recently purchased the RW Marathon Plan for Intermediate Runners. I also am using its app. When would be the best days to do core strengthening and/or cross-training? Here is Week 3 of the 12-week program.

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 4 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 6 miles hills
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 6 miles easy
  • Saturday: 3 miles easy
  • Sunday: 10 miles LSD (Long Slow Distance)

I would like to add some extra training to the program, but do not know on which days to make the modifications.


Although Runner’s World lists me on its masthead as a Contributing Editor, I did not design their interactive programs, as offered by TrainingPeaks. So I can only guess what the RW designer might say if asked the same question. No need to ask that person; let me make a couple of good guess suggestions:

  1. Add strength training on easy days.
  2. Do so after you run, rather than before.
  3. Cross train on rest days

Given that as your guideline, here is how you might modify Week 3.

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 4 miles easy + strength
  • Wednesday: 6 miles hills
  • Thursday: Cross train
  • Friday: 6 miles easy + strength
  • Saturday: 3 miles easy
  • Sunday: 10 miles LSD (Long Slow Distance)

I have added strength training on two of the days: Tuesday and Friday. You could strength train a third day on Saturday, although I would prefer you go into the long run somewhat rested. Cross train on Thursday, and while you could do the same on Monday, you might like at least a single day of rest, particularly after that long run. The same general modifications would prevail throughout the program. The RW editor who designed this program might suggest something different, but since you asked me, I get to respond first.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

View more posts by Hal Higdon