Marathon Strength Training

Hello! How are you doing? I prefer blogging every week and it’s been five weeks since my last blog. I left you hanging and my apologies about that. 

Jenny and Mari at the YWCA doing marathon prep strength training

Bruised tibia update

Turns out my knee is just fine. In fact the orthopedic surgeon I saw x-rayed my knees, and he said I have the knees of someone 37 not 57 (my actual age.) Meaning I have zero knee arthritis. That was joyful to discover. 

The fall on the ice I had on January 1st, didn’t cause any tendon or ligament tears or pulls. I did hurt the knee, namely the top of the tibia area just below the knee, and since I hadn’t rested at all that aggravated the bone bruise. I took a bit over two weeks off from running, and the rest from running is exactly what I needed.

Grandma’s Marathon here I come

With this good news, I am officially in marathon training! Yes, I’ve signed up for Grandma’s Marathon that will happen on June 17, 2023 in Duluth, Minnesota. 

My last marathon was the Big Sur Marathon that I did in March 2010. I figure I will do a marathon every 13 years or so! Just kidding, who knows, now that I hang out with all these runners and have fallen fully in love with running, maybe another marathon will happen in the future. I’m open to possibilities. 

In the spirit of living in the now, at this moment, I am training for Grandma’s. That means that I needed to get more focused on strength training for successful marathoning. 

Avoiding injury = weight training

As we age, we are more prone to injury – don’t I know that. Turns out one of the best ways to prevent running injuries is to weight train and do strength exercises. My dear friend Jenny, who is doing this marathon and training alongside me, and I got three sessions with our Thursday morning YWCA run intervals coach Laurie Ladd Goudreault. Coach Laurie is an amazing running coach. 

One leg on the ground when running

Laurie took us under her wing, and set up an excellent one-legged, hamstring, quadriceps, glute, core focused series. After all, when we run, only one leg is on the ground at a time. Thus it’s important to do lots of balance and one legged routines. Turns out these exercises are HARD! And so worth it. 

Laurie advises us to keep doing this set all the way through our marathon training. She coached us to mix things up as we go. To try the session when we are rested, and sometimes when we are tired. All the while, listening closely to our bodies.

Ask your coach

If you have a coach, I strongly encourage you to ask them what they recommend for you. Doing these three sessions with Laurie gave Jenny and me the chance to ask about form and random questions that came up. 

That said, a few of you might be curious about what we are doing.  Coach Laurie gave me her okay to share what she gave us. I went on YouTube to find example demos of each one.

Give it a try

Jenny and I are currently doing two sets of each, with 12 repetitions of each exercise. We mix up the order we do the exercises, to keep it interesting. For the moment, both of us are doing a full set twice a week, on non-running days. It takes us about 45 minutes to do everything. 

In addition to what Laurie gave us, I do a few exercises from the SHE program that I’ve been doing since June 2021. As a result, my twice a week strength sessions take longer than an hour. I love these sessions, so making time is fairly easy to do. 

More strength = more confidence

I confess, I love how my body feels. I feel stronger, more confident and more present in my body. I figure this is a big win. Plus, for those who have diabetes, the more muscle mass a body has, the better the insulin works. Another helpful win.

Here’s what Coach Laurie gave us. Enjoy!

If you’re doing a marathon, feel free to add any of them to your routine. Even one or two will help.  


When we go to the YW, they have barbell weights. I like the 35 lb bar. When I go to the U of MN gym or I’m at home, I use dumbbells. Here’s a video with dumbbells as an example.

Single leg deadlift

Keeping with the deadlift theme, doing them one legged is helpful for running. I usually use 12 pound weights in one hand.

Single leg step ups

As you get familiar with step ups, you can add dumbbells. I currently use 12 lbs in each hand. 

Squats with weights

Squats really help with running. WOW oh WOW can I feel my glutes and hamstrings with these. I usually hold 12 or 15 pound weights in both hands.

Bulgarian Split Squats

Here we are focusing on one leg at a time again. This exercise is another really good one. I usually hold 12 or 15 pound dumbbells in both hands as I do this. This video really emphasizes that this exercise is for booties. Strong booty makes for strong running.  

Dead Bugs

For me, this particular exercise is the most challenging. Helps with the low abs. It requires lots of mental focus for me. It’s SO good!


Currently Jenny and I are doing front planks for 45 seconds to a minute, working to squeeze the butt cheeks together as we plank. This causes the body to get lower to the ground and have a straight back. We are working up to a minute and more.

Side planks

OMG, I didn’t realize how important it is to also do side planks! Good stuff, and yup, difficult. We are currently holding for 20 to 30 seconds on each side. Doing it twice. 

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Excellent description of all the ways you can do it wrong with this one. This is a good one for strengthening the glutes and core. 

Bird dog

This exercise is another excellent core one.  

Clam shell with band

The video has no band, but it gives you the idea. The band makes the exercise a bit more challenging. This is a really good one for the glutes. 

Bosu balancing

And the last one we do, which usually we do first, is balancing on the Bosu. We do 6 minutes total. We do 1 minute with both legs on the flat side, then 1 minute with just one leg, on each leg. Then we do one minute with both legs on the rounded side, then 1 minute with just one leg, on each leg. 

Here’s an example to get the idea:

There you go! 
Let me know what you think. I love hearing from you. 

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4 thoughts on “Marathon Strength Training”

  1. I love hearing about your journey for editing your book, and for strengthening your body. It’s almost like your body and your book are going on the same journey, strengthening, and getting ready for the next step, whether it’s a marathon, or being released out to the public. Thank you so much for bringing us along!

    • Hi Brenda!
      I agree, it is rather remarkable how the book editing and body strengthening are on parallel paths! Thanks for noticing!! And it is a joy to be on the journey connected!!

  2. Great post. Thanks for sharing the exercises and finding the videos. Almost all of these are in my PT repertoire. The one leg in the ground makes so much sense to build both strength and balance while creating awareness of where your feet are while you run! Can’t wait to get back to running with you all.

    • This is so great to read Marie!! Excellent affirmation that these exercises are super good for those who want to be runners and fast walkers! I know you are healing up well and fast and before you know it the sidewalks won’t be icy and you’ll be healed up and back out there running with us!

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