Hi Hayley:

I'm training for my first marathon this fall. Yay, turning 30 bucket list! I am using Hal Higdon's Novice 1 training program, which seems to be going okay so far. I'm also losing weight, which is great, because I had a bit to lose.

However, as I lose weight, I'm noticing more flab. I was an athlete when I was younger, and I've probably put on 17 lbs above what I would call my ideal weight. The flab (especially around my stomach, love handles, and arms) isn't coming back as muscle *gasp*.

I would definitely like to trim the flab a bit, but have always hated strength training except in group classes. I am extremely competitive, so having a group to work out with always helps with keeping me motivated. I am planning on joining a new gym near me, but I am sort of overwhelmed by all the choices! 

I guess I'm asking what would be the best classes that you know of that would help me get leaner, but also help out with marathon training?



Hal Higdon’s marathon training program is THE BEST and it was my running bible for years.  As a new runner your main goal is to make it to the finish line injury free. That is it. Don’t even put a time goal on it. Just love every single second of your training and your race. When you do your next race you can start to get a little more serious. Yup, I said next race, because once you do one marathon you are a marathoner for life. As for what you should do to keep your body lean and strong without affecting your marathon training, I would suggest a high intensity interval class one day a week and a hot yoga class one day a week.  

If you have an Orange Theory near you that should be your first pick. Their coaches are usually pretty knowledgeable and their class sizes are small enough that you will get enough attention from the coaches so you won’t hurt yourself. (Lainey goes to Orange Theory once a week.) The movements in the class are functional, which will improve your running, and the intervals you do on the treadmill can replace one of your weekly speed sessions.

For yoga, I recommend hot yoga as it will help you stretch out your sore and tired muscles (be careful not to overstretch) while at the same time building strength. Also, running can cause havoc on your body’s stress levels, so allowing yourself one (or maybe two) hours a week where you are only focused on you and your mat will help keep you calm and focused on the finish line. The breath work you will do in class will transfer into your breathing while running, so you are getting a lot of benefits from just one class.  

I would recommend you keep up with the interval classes until about four weeks out of from the start of your race. At this point you will want to take out that class and replace it with a very stretchy, gentle yoga class.

It is so common for runners to get a little, as you called it, “flabby”. All of those long miles being pounded out on the pavement chisel away at your hard earned physique, but as you become a more experienced runner, running faster and more efficient with more speed work in your training, your body will change shape again. For now, however, adding in some interval strength workouts and a yoga class should help keep you looking, and being, strong.

Also, be careful as to what foods you are putting into your body. You definitely need to up the calories but your long runs do not entitle you to a free pass. It is even more important that you stay away from fatty or sugary foods while you’re training as your body needs all the nutrients it can get to make sure it is ready for the next workout. Skip the post-run coffee meetings with your running club and instead opt for a healthy smoothie that you brought with you and keep sugary “energy” and “recovery” drinks and gels to a minimum. Just use one serving on your longest of runs. Try to stick to real food as much as possible.  

Happy Training! And keep your smuttyfitness questions coming to me here