16 Weeks to Your First Marathon: Week 4 (Cross Training)

February 3, 2014

Give yourself a gigantic pat on the back for moving into you first full month of marathon training! As we begin our Week 4 training, stop to reflect on what you have been able to accomplish so far and thank your body for what it has done.  You are 1/4 of the way there!

While the last 3 weeks have been focused on strengthening and building up endurance during your runs, this week we will focus on a smaller, yet equally important part of your training: Cross-Training.  Your Sunday cross-training is basically an opportunity for you to exercise in ways other than running to help build up different muscles, rest tired ones and increase your endurance in other areas.

Photo Credit: Claire Harris

When choosing a cross-training activity, be sure that it complements your marathon training, while adding variety to your routine.  Rowing, swimming and cycling are great low-impact, aerobic activities that allow you to strengthen muscles not heavily used in your runs, while allowing tired joints to rest.

As the weekly mileage  begins to increase more and more, you may find yourself waking up with sore muscles and aching hips/knees/feet on Sunday mornings.  Yoga is an excellent cross-training activity that will not only help to lubricate joints and stretch muscles, but will help release toxins and excess fluid from muscles, which will relieve  soreness.  Choose postures that twist to flush out muscles and organs, and hold deep stretching postures to increase flexibility.  And don’t forget your savasana (corpse pose) at the end.  Letting your body rest and feel the energy it has created, while allowing your mind to relax is just as important as the physical movements.

For a great core workout with a good dose of cardio, give pilates or barre a try.  Both activities are low-impact and a MAJOR workout for your abs.  Good core strength is critical for strong runners and will allow you to run taller, stronger and faster.  Try to incorporate at least one intense core workout into your routine each month.

If a cross-training “routine” isn’t for you, try to incorporate something fun and athletic into your week.  Going for a hike, playing kickball, roller skating or anything else that you like to do is a great way to have fun while getting in a workout.  Just be sure to keep is easy in order to avoid injuries.

Most importantly, choose a cross-training activity that feels right for you each week.  Cross-training can also be substituted for easy run days if you just aren’t feeling like a run or think that you need to give your legs a rest.  Remember to mix it up and have fun!

Let’s do it! Your fourth week of recommended workouts:

Monday: 10 minute warm up, 35 minute easy run, 5 minute cool down

Tuesday: 10 minute warm up, 10x (2 minutes @ fast pace+2 minutes at easy pace),  5 minute cool down

Wednesday: 10 minute warm up, 45 minute easy run, 5 minute cool down

Thursday: 10 minute warm up, 60 minute easy run, 5 minute cool down

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 1 mile warm up, 16 miles easy run, 5-10 minute cool down

Sunday: Cross train 30-60 minutes

Keep up with your weekly marathon training and find running tips every Monday on Peaceful Dumpling!

Week 3: How to Avoid Chafing and Heal Running Blisters

Week 2: Proper Nutrition for Distance Runners – Plus Green Smoothie Recipe!

Week 1: Running Safely 

Week 0: Finding the Proper Distance for You


Photo: Claire Harris

Claire-Marie Harris is a writer, blogger and vegan cook who recently returned to her home state of Texas after living in Asia for many years. A passionate traveler, animal activist and food lover, she is the founder of Kimchi Tacos and is currently writing her first cookbook. She lives in Dallas with her husband and three furry kids where she continues her work in animal welfare. Find her on her blog, Flickr or Instagram.


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