Marathon Runners: Should they strength train?

Catherine Logan

November 5th, 2019

Research Updates…
A Randomized Study of a Strength Training Program to Prevent Injuries in Runners of the NYC Marathon

SourceSports Health, first published October 23, 2019

Clinical Question: Does a 12-week strength training program decrease the rate of overuse injuries resulting in non-completion? Does this program also improve race finish time?

Bottom Line: There is a high prevalence of injury among first-time marathon runners. The incidence of overuse injury resulting in non-completion was 7.1% in the strength training group and 7.3% in the observation group. Mean finishing time was 5 hours 1+/-60 min in strength training group, 4 hours 58 +/-55 minutes in obs group (P=.35).

Points to consider: This is a well done randomized trial. A total of 720 runners were enrolled (mean age, 35.9 =/-9.4 years: 69% female). Of the 583 runners who started the marathon, 579 completed it. 

Takeaway: This self-directed strength training program did NOT decrease overuse injuries in runners, especially for high-risk populations such as first-time marathon runners.

About the Author:
Catherine A. Logan, MD, MBA, MSPT is a sports medicine Orthopaedic Surgeon and writer. Based in Denver, CO, she is an attending at Colorado Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics at Rose Medical Center. Dr. Logan is the Head League Physician for Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) member of the team physician pool for the US Ski & Snowboard teams each year. Dr. Logan completed her Orthopaedic Surgery residency at the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program and her Sports Medicine Fellowship training at the prestigious Steadman Philippon Research Institute/The Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO. Logan is also on the board of The Chill Foundation.