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Adding Strength Training to a Marathon Training Plan

BY Hal Higdon

Hal suggests the best days to add strength training and cross-training to your marathon training plan.


I recently purchased a training plan for my upcoming marathon. When would be the best days to do core strengthening and/or cross-training? Here is Week 3 of my 12-week program for reference:

  • 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.


While I would defer to the author of the particular training plan you purchased, 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 Complete Marathon Training Guide

Complete Marathon Training Guide

Training Guide

This guide is designed to be used as you train for a marathon, with in-depth information on every part of the process. Each chapter is packed with tips, workouts, and insights from expert running coaches, to give you all the tools you need to succeed.

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About 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 over a quarter of a 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 on his website.