Preparing for the Comrades Marathon requires a comprehensive training approach that encompasses strength training, speed work, and hill training. While these training components are pivotal for building endurance and performance, it’s crucial to time them strategically, especially as race day approaches. 

One of the most common questions I often encounter is when to stop these intense training sessions before the marathon. Let’s delve into this topic and explore the importance of strength training for runners.

Consistency is Key

Consistency plays a pivotal role in marathon training. If you’ve been incorporating strength training, speed work, and hill training consistently throughout your training cycle, it’s advisable to continue these exercises up to about 7-10 days before the Comrades Marathon. 

The body adapts to the training stimulus over time, and maintaining this routine ensures that you’re well-prepared for the demands of the marathon.

The Importance of Strength Training for Runners

Strength training is often overlooked by runners, but its benefits are immense. Here’s why strength training should be an integral part of a runner’s training regimen:

Injury Prevention: Strength training helps strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments, reducing the risk of injuries. It improves muscle imbalances and enhances joint stability, ensuring that you can run efficiently and safely.

Improved Running Economy: A stronger body translates to improved running economy. Strength training enhances muscle power and endurance, allowing you to maintain pace for longer periods and conserve energy during the marathon.

Enhanced Performance: Incorporating strength training into your routine can lead to improved race performance. Stronger muscles generate more power with each stride, enabling you to run faster and more efficiently.

Muscle Maintenance During Tapering: As you reduce your running mileage during the tapering phase, strength training can help maintain muscle mass and strength. This ensures that you’re not losing the fitness gains you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Tapering Phase and Strength Training

As race day approaches, the tapering phase begins. This phase is about reducing the training volume and intensity to ensure that you’re well-rested and recovered for the marathon. However, it doesn’t mean stopping all training activities. It’s essential to continue with a reduced but consistent stimulus to maintain your fitness level without causing fatigue.

If you’ve been incorporating strength training into your routine, continue it up to about 7-10 days before the race. For those who have recently added strength training, especially those preparing for the Down run, I recommend discontinuing it about 10 days before the race to allow for adequate rest and recovery.

Avoid Last-Minute Cramming

It’s important to note that the final weeks leading up to the marathon are not the time to start cramming if you haven’t been consistent with your training.

Intense last-minute sessions can increase the risk of injury and fatigue, jeopardizing your race day performance. Trust your training, stay consistent, and focus on maintaining a balanced approach to ensure that you’re well-prepared for the Comrades Marathon.

In conclusion, strength training is a vital component of Comrades Marathon training. It offers numerous benefits for runners, including injury prevention, improved running economy, enhanced performance, and muscle maintenance during tapering.

If you’ve been consistent with your strength training and other training components, continue them up to 7-10 days before the race. Remember, the tapering phase is about reducing intensity, not stopping entirely.

 Trust your training, stay consistent, and you’ll be well-prepared for the Comrades Marathon.

If you’re gearing up for the Comrades Marathon or any other race, ensure that strength training is a part of your training regimen.

Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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