Think about an athlete performing a deadlift. Who comes to mind? Is it Saquon Barkley, star running back from the suddenly revitalized New York Giants whose lower body strength is off the charts? Or maybe it’s the mountainous slugger Aaron Judge, training hard to lead the Yanks into October baseball. Or, how about a marathoner?

Endurance runners are a special breed. They have tremendous aerobic capacity coupled with intense mental fortitude. Running long distances is grueling on the body, and only the strongest have the will to stick to it. But too often, runners focus solely on logging miles, and assume strength training will interfere with their training and wear out their legs for workouts. 

Since we have a background in training high level collegiate and pro athletes, we set out to prove that even newbie marathoners can strength train just like elite team sport athletes. We believed they could not only succeed, but become faster, stronger and more efficient.

“Patient E” arrived at our clinic with a deep motivation to get stronger and prepare her body for the physically imposing demands of her first marathon. She has a history of running half marathons, but had no strength training program in place when she came to us. 

Patient E’s first visit consisted of a screen for stability, mobility, strength, and power. Data was collected and a ten week training program was formulated in order to target the aforementioned categories. Patient E attended one training session in person each week, where she was guided through a workout by her DPT/Performance Specialist. She was also provided with programming and demonstration videos for two additional workouts each week that was expected to do on her own. In the 12th week, Patient E’s progress was re-tested.

The numbers truly speak for themselves! Patient E improved in every facet physically, gained confidence in her athletic ability, and decreased her mile time. Check out the pre- and post-test: 

Our takeaways: 

Marathon Strength Training Data
  1. Strength training aides in making the body more resilient… and who needs resilience more than those brave souls taking on the marathon?!

  2. It’s easy to look at the numbers and be satisfied with progress. But there are other markers of success that are less quantifiable yet still hugely critical, like quality of movement and confidence. 

  3. The hybrid model (in-person sessions coupled with at-home workouts) is a highly effective method for training, particularly when time is limited and mileage ramps up. The runner receives a full strength training program tailored to their needs and goals, without having to come into the clinic multiple times per week. But the weekly one-on-one check-in keeps the athlete motivated and accountable.

With a customized strength training plan and guidance — not just hitting weights at the gym at random or using up those class credits — runners can make significant improvements in their preparedness to run a marathon, and learn to deadlift like a pro. 

— Dr. James Sinodinos, PT, DPT, CSCS