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There have been some interesting articles in RW recently about training for a marathon on 3 days a week of running - the long run is really important, but around that they've built two other days of shorter, faster runs and have also had two days x-training.

Personally I've always done heaps of x-training activities and think it does help lots with general fitness. However, if you want to be strongest then you definitely want to invest lots of time in running - unfortunately the general fitness thing only gets you so far...

One other thing - don't rush in getting up to marathon distance - try racing some 5km, 10km and HM races for a year or two first - they're fun and it's amazing how much experience you get and how you'll get faster - all of which will make your debut marathon all the more memorable!
 
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