What is the best cross training for a marathon?

Hi...  I'm currently running 4-6 times a week with a long run on the weekend.  Guess that is pretty similar to most people on here!  I just set my half PB at Reading - 1:42.

Problem is - I know I should be cross training too, but am not sure what the best options are?  I've read that too much rowing can build up your quads too much (and I don't want mine to get any bigger!)

So what are the suggestions?  All options are possible image

Thanks!

Comments

  • If you're running 4-6 times a week it's not necessarily true that you need to be cross training as well. If you've just PB'd that suggests your training is working. Something like Pilates or yoga that will work on your core stability and stretching would be useful for non-running days, but I agree that rowing probably isn't going to help you much for marathon training. Cross country skiing's great for endurance, but unless you live in Norway, probably not that convenient image .
  • If you are after cardio workouts / endurance, then non weight bearing such as rowing, cycling/spinning or swimming. Personally I find rowing to be an excellent cardio/endurance tool. If you are using it for recoveries or easy/steady rows, then no, your quads won't build (about 600k rowed this year and I still have chicken legs image). I backed off the threshold and VO2 rows recently as all my hard efforts are in running approaching a marathon. Cross training can compliment your running, but don't expect it to improve it. For me it helps in getting more cardio work in without the impact of running miles

    Non cardio - pilates is good/relevant

  • Thanks Both for this - I have recently started a pilates class to help out the core muscles.  I naturally have muscular legs which I have found great for speed, but not for endurance.  I guess I just need to mix it up a little.  Swimming sounds like a good idea.....

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    I've only done one marathon, but I felt that having at least one night a week in the gym was very beneficial to me.  Perhaps  5 minute warm up treadmill, 20 minutes on various weights, 20 minutes on the bike and 25-30 minutes on the rowing machine.

    Of these, I felt that the most valuable was definitely that time, pushing really quite hard, on the rowing machine.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I wouldn't get too hung up about the size of your legs.  Unless you're doing specific exercises to significantly increase power (very high weight, low reps), they're not going to bulk up from doing any kind of aerobic exercise, even if the quads are one of the main muscles being used for that exercise (e.g. rowing, cycling).  I'm sure my legs are more footballer's legs than runner's legs, but I supplement my running miles with lots of cycling, plus rowing, squats/lunges, etc. in the gym, and I'm sure on balance it's a good complement.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Can't help I'm afraid. 

    You want to train but at the same time you don't want the effects of that training.

    Image or performance, which is it?

  • There is a guy training for london who was telling how his coach had cut his milage right back. Apparently his VO2 max was high anyway, and more running won't improve this. So he's spending a lot of time in the gym -and less on the road.



    I'll be interested to see how this works out.



    For me - cycling/spinning is a good session. If you do it right and sweat buckets. Hard on the cardio system but no impact on your legs.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    cougie wrote (see)
    There is a guy training for london who was telling how his coach had cut his milage right back. Apparently his VO2 max was high anyway, and more running won't improve this. So he's spending a lot of time in the gym -and less on the road.

    I'll be interested to see how this works out. 

    Sounds a bit silly to me, if that really is his reasoning.  Sure, there's a correlation between VO2 max and marathon performance, but a high aerobic capacity won't be enough to sustain a strong pace when the quads and calves start fatiguing at 22 miles.  I suppose it depends what he's doing in the gym but I would've thought running lots of miles and then a few more, before tapering, would be his best bet??

  • His coach is a strength and conditioning coach - so I think he's just training him in what he knows. Which isn't what you'd expect you'd need in order to do a marathon.

    I'm with you on this Phil.
  • All good stuff.... been reading a little more and I think it's working on my core where I can get the most benefit - which will help me keep my form on the long runs.  Interestingly me V02 max is pretty good - and (not wanting to read too much into marathon time analysis based on this) I should be running a lot faster - which means that isn't my issue... more likely conditioning.

    Signed up to a yoga class to go with my pilates class for the lighter training days - hoping to see some benefits from these.

  • I started yoga in November and really feel it helps. Definitely more flexible and less niggles, touch wood. In fact, when I do feel there's a bit of a niggle developing it's incredible how that sensation goes away after my yoga class.

    +1 to the poster who mentioned cross-country skiing, but as they say you've got to be living in the right part of the world.

  • swimming and cycling and then next year you can do Tri image

  • Chilibean wrote (see)

    swimming and cycling and then next year you can do Tri image

     

    I have given that some consideration - I was swimming a lot last year but couldn't string more than 400 meters or so together without stopping (in the pool), not great if I was in the middle of a lake doing a tri image

     

     

  • Sounds a bit silly to me, if that really is his reasoning. Sure, there's a correlation between VO2 max and marathon performance, but a high aerobic capacity won't be enough to sustain a strong pace when the quads and calves start fatiguing at 22 miles. I suppose it depends what he's doing in the gym but I would've thought running lots of miles and then a few more, before tapering, would be his best bet??



    Just to say that my above mentioned regime has gone well and with just over 4 wks to go all is on track for target time. I've stuck to my S&C' plan and have benefitted with sustained pace and stamina on long runs as a result of a cut back on 'midweek' mileage. Endurance has been a problem in the past and I'm on the way to cracking this. Regarding gym work there has been emphasis on leg strength and power which in the past I have tried to improve by more hill runs and intervals. I've definitely felt that less pounding on the legs have helped come the LR's. Each to their own I guess, proof will be there or not on Apr 21 st.
  • Yes, when Paula Radcliffe was injured that cross training really proved to save the day.

    Best training for running is running.
  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the insight Chappers  image

  • Right... update!  Had my first yoga class today (can't remember what type of yoga it was - I am a bloke after all....) and I can only be positive.  Once I got over the hippy type chat, the core exercize, breathing and stretching was brilliant.  I can really see it help with strength and recovery.  I think it would compliment any training plan.....

  • Core work I think is the most essential form of cross training as it can help prevent so many other injuries.  Yoga, pilates, Body balance, abs class, or doing your own thing at the gym are all good, but only if you know what you are doing.  So many people have poor technique when doing core work and then it is next to useless.

    Cycling is good if you are doing it instead of running, for example because you want to keep your mileage and impact low due to a niggle or recovering from injury

    Swimming is good if you want to train up your cardio system or burn extra calories, for example to lose weight, but it doesn't transfer to running very well from a fitness point of view.

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