Posted on March 09, 2023 by Jenny Cromack

It’s super exciting that Leeds is hosting it’s very own marathon for a good few years this year. The last time there was a marathon in Leeds was in 2003, so the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon will be welcomed by runners in Leeds this year! (If I wasn’t doing a Half Iron Man the week after I’d be tempted…..despite the hilly route which is promised!) Some of my bike routes cover the Leeds Marathon route and I’ve seen many a runner doing their marathon training early on a weekend morning.

Before Christmas a few of my personal training clients expressed an interested in running the Leeds Marathon, but they were concerned about how much time they would need to commit to their marathon training and how often they would need to run. They also didn’t want the training to take over their lives and still be able to do the other training they enjoy.

I’ve done a few marathons in the past and appreciate how much commitment it takes; I’ve run 3 or 4 times per week in training. Most running plans will focus on a minimum of 3 runs, and, depending on running experience, may go up to 5 runs per week. But, I’m pretty confident you could run a marathon on two training runs per week and so far so good for my personal training clients who are in training for the Leeds Marathon.

My theory behind only completing two training runs per week does have one caveat:

  • You should be doing other forms of training alongside your running. I’d suggest:
    • A minimum of one other cardio session per week, of around 60 minutes, to develop your aerobic fitness and therefore your endurance. For one of my clients this is playing squash – great for fitness levels and lots of multi-directional lunge movement patterns to develop leg strength and endurance. If you can do two cardio-based sessions per week then even better!
    • 1-2 strength training sessions per week which focus on lower body, core and upper back strength.

Doing the above will keep your body in prime conditioning for running. The cardio-based sessions will develop your aerobic system which is essential for an endurance event like a marathon.

Runners often skip strength training, but it’s essential to do this in order to keep injuries at bay, help with form and again contribute to the muscular-endurance required on the day. My training plans focus on:

  • Squats, lunge variations, deadlifts, banded walks and glute bridges to keep the lower body strong.
  • Core exercises to maintain a strong core and posture when running. When we’re tired the first thing to often ‘go’ when running is our posture/core and you’ll see many runners slumping forwards. Ensure you include core work to avoid this happening.
  • Upper body exercises with a main focus on the upper back using exercises like row variations, face pulls and reverse flyes. Again this will help keep a strong posture when running and stop the rounding of the shoulders which we often see in runners. I also include some chest work for balance.

In addition to this, I also recommend lots of stretching and foam rolling to look after those tired muscles.

Could you still run a marathon on two runs per week but without the above training sessions? Probably… may walk and run it, but you’d complete it. It just might be a bit ‘painful’ so I’d definitely recommend following the above or doing more runs.

Does the idea of completing a marathon based on 2 runs per week work for everyone? If I’m honest, I don’t think this approach would work for a complete beginner, unless they started their training 6 months out from the start date. This approach is definitely more suited to someone who already has a good baseline level of fitness. Although I started talking to my PT clients about this before Christmas, their training plans didn’t officially start until January, however we discussed that they needed to be in a position where they could run 8-10 miles comfortably before their official marathon training plans began.

So far, my personal training clients are smashing their training plan. We’re also adding in a de-load week every 3-4 weeks so they have an easier week to look forwards to every week. De-load weeks can be very motivating…you have a tough, long run to do but you know that the next week you have a de-load week…what a carrot to dangle during that long run!

If you’re doing the Leeds Marathon then we wish you all the best with your last couple of months of training and for the actual event.

If you’re reading this and fancy doing a marathon, half marathon or 10k but don’t know where to start then get in touch. We’d love to help!