Marathon Running Question - Age and Weight Lifting

by Joey
(Walla Walla WA)

marathon training age and weightlifting

I am 47. Long time weight lifter. Just started (about 6 months ago) to train for a marathon. Can I and should continue to lift- "somewhat heavy"? Also, is there a big difference between a 47 year old and a 37 year old?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question.

Let's cover your questions as follows:

1. Age and running
2. Strength training for runners
3. The goal is to keep the goal the goal

Age and running

marathon training age and weightlifting

I'll first answer the age-question: yes, the difference of ten years is quite a big one.

Having been through this myself, I have noticed the changes. I am a little more tired at night. Coming back from injury or a period of less running takes longer. You might start to feel some limitations in terms of mileage build-up, etc.

Does not mean that you need to despair. You might lose a touch of competitiveness. But you can make up for that quite well by training more seriously, eating better, living cleaner, etc.

And especially for endurance events like the marathon the somewhat older people can keep up with the younger ones quite well. Many 40+ age groupers are faster than the 30-40 age groupers!

It comes down to years in training, but also time available for training. The 30-40 year olds more often have to factor in small children and dependents. 40+ age groupers more often have gone past that stage and have more time and energy for their training.

This is generally speaking of course, I don't know your specific circumstances. All I am saying is, you can compensate for the physical limitations that are starting to play somewhat of a role in your 40s!

Strength Training for Runners

marathon training age and weightlifting

Now with regards to the weight lifting question. Weight lifting has got tremenduous benefits for runners. It helps to improve posture and can help prevent injuries. I am a big fan of compound movements, squats, deadlifts, and single-leg exercises. Running is a single leg sport!

Heavy lifting is fantastic for runners. The only thing you need to try and work out is how to best combine with the strength training with the running. And this can be a bit tricky. You basically don't want the weightlifting to come to the detriment of your running. So, scheduling is important. Even then, you may have the occassional heavy weights session that really impacts your run the next day.

I still have this happen at times and I have been trying to combine weights and running for years. Hey, what can I say, when you are Type A and want to improve continuously, you sometimes go overboard with the weights!

For more information about weights and running, also check out my strength training for runners page with more info.

The Goal is to Keep the Goal the Goal

marathon training age and weightlifting

An important principle to follow when you are a weight lifter changing to marathon training is to keep the goal the goal. The goal is going to be to finish that marathon. This means that this should have priority. The strength training should be wound back.

Two strength training workouts a week is great to maintain strength. When you don't have a strength training base, you will find that two workouts is enough to build strength. When you are further advanced, it is generally enough to maintain it. And importantly, it leaves enough time for running.

Want to lift more? Then just keep in mind that your running shouldn't suffer because of it. So, when you feel that you can't do your running sessions at the right intensity or you can't complete your running training because of the weight training, then it is probably time to take it down a notch.

What I definitely wouldn't do is to try and chase two competing goals, e.g. run a marathon and work on building more upper body muscle. It's just going to be too hard when you are going to mix endurance event training with power/explosivity building training.

So, my advice would be to keep up the weights, but get into more of a maintenance mode whilst training for your most important goal - the marathon.

Hope this helps.
Best of luck with the marathon preparations!
Kind regards,

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