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Over the next 6 months I will be training for my first marathon. This means I will be running 4 times a week, with at least one long (10-20 mile) run each weekend.

I have run several half-marathons before, but each time I lost a lot of my power and strength climbing. I don't want to start from scratch again as a climber. I have worked hard to get what little strength I have and I want to keep it.

But how can I keep my climbing strength while training for a marathon?

I imagine people are going answer:

  1. Just keep climbing.

I will try. But last time I lagged behind because I just can't climb hard on a day I've run >10 miles. Will at-home strength-training be the key? How hard will I have to work to just maintain?

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Could you still make it to the climbing gym for one hard climbing session a week? That could go a long way to keeping your strength up. What sort of at-home strength training were you considering? Also, do you climb routes, or just boulder (ie, is climbing endurance a consideration for you, or just raw strength?) –  DavidR Mar 7 '13 at 2:48
    
Well, I think at least one day a week at the climbing gym will have to happen. Even if it hurts. And the only "equipment" I have at home is a pull-up bar and some rock rings. –  theJollySin Mar 7 '13 at 3:36

2 Answers 2

You're framing this as a question of "how much will this hurt my climbing"? I wonder if you could use this down time from actual climbing as a chance to focus more on pure climbing specific strength training, and possibly come out of the whole process a stronger climber.

Something I tend to do is all but quit route climbing in the winter, and take it up again in the Spring. In that "down time", I'll still boulder once a week, and incorporate some climbing specific strength training. I lose a lot of endurance, but gain some strength, and usually come back in the Spring as a slightly stronger climber. If you keep your strength up, endurance will come back in a month or so.

If you already have rock rings and a pullup bar, have you thought about doing the official rock ring training plan: http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/training_giude_rock_ring.html ? Metolius published a 10 minute workout plan that includes finger strength, pullups, lockoffs, leg raises, all climbing specific stuff. It all done from a hanging position, so it shouldn't tax your lower body, and it would build a lot of climbing specific strength. And since you're planning on not climbing as much anyway, you could try and hit it a couple times a still have several rest days (at least for your upper body). You might actually come back stronger after the marathon, and be able to train endurance on routes on top of a better base of strength.

I feel like something like this (10 minutes of pure upper body strength training a couple times a week on rock rings), plus one gym climbing session a week, would integrate with your marathon training. But you'll have to listen to your body as you go.

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Just keep climbing-is sort of the right answer, but you need to fit it in to your training and recovery schedule.

I kept climbing all the way through training for various marathons. My solution was to do a climb a week in place of one of my small to medium sized runs.

If this happened to be right after a really long run then I might focus more on bouldering and overhangs (ie upper body) otherwise a normal climb (heavy focus on legs)

Good luck with your marathon.

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