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Your expert guide: Strength training for marathon runners

Lift your way to faster running times.

With early bird entries now open for next year's Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF), it's time to start thinking about how to maximise your running potential.

Of course, the best way to get better at running is to run, but most runners often overlook the importance of strength training. Strength training can add an array of benefits that will help to improve your running times, and who doesn’t want to run faster?

Strength training is going to help limit your chances of injury, and will also leave you feeling stronger and more efficient with your running technique. If you can make time to incorporate strength workouts into your training schedule, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.

I have teamed up with the official strawberry supplier of EMF, AVA berries, to provide you with seven strength exercises to add to your training schedule.

Perform each exercise for 3 rounds, resting for 1-2 minutes between those rounds.

Squat – 10 reps

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart

  • Lead with your bum going backwards

  • Lower yourself down until your upper leg is parallel to the ground

  • Then push yourself up and return to start position

Reverse Lunges – 10 reps on each leg

  • Keep your back straight throughout the entire exercise

  • Take a big step backwards

  • Then lower yourself down until you reach a 90 degree angle in your front knee

  • Pushing through your front foot, bring yourself back up to the start position

Step ups – 15 reps on each leg

  • Place one foot on the bench and lean slightly forward

  • Pushing through your raised foot, push yourself up until your raised leg is standing up straight

  • Gently lower yourself back down and return to the start position

Bodyweight hip thrust – 20 reps

  • Laying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor

  • Bracing your core, push your hips up to the ceiling

  • Focus on squeezing your bum at the top of the exercise.

  • Hold there for 1 second before returning to the start position.

Leg extensions – 12 reps

  • Set the foot pad so that it is resting on the front of your ankle

  • Grip the handles on both sides

  • Push the pad up until your leg is straight

  • Hold at the top of the movement for 1 second before slowly lowering your legs back to the start position

Russian twists – 30 reps

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor

  • Keep your back straight and refrain from hunching your shoulders

  • Hold the weight in both hands, then lean back slightly whilst bracing your core and raise your feet off the ground

  • Keeping your core tight, twist your upper body reaching your arms from side to side in a controlled movement

Plank – 30 second holds

  • Get into the press up position, but this time rest on your forearms instead of your hands

  • Look straight down at the floor so that you don’t strain your neck

  • Squeeze your bum and your abs to keep your back in a straight position

  • Hold this neutral position for the set time


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