The Essential 8-Minute Workout for Marathon Runners
To train for a marathon you must meet the demands of the run with a body that functions at its full-capacity. To do that? Flip conventional running wisdom on its head.
We runners run marathons for a lot of different reasons: to support a cause, to tackle a personal fitness goal, to compete, or to tick off an item on the bucket list.
But often, our training plans look the same: We work for months to meet our goals; increase our mileage; complete demanding speed work; and sprint hills. It’s an exhausting schedule.
But working more efficiently—instead of just more—could help runners of all skill levels. “Marathoners, in my view, are overtrained,” says Pete Egoscue, Co-founder of Elev8d Fitness.
While conventional wisdom tells us we must acclimate the to pounding of running and build upon a base mileage to prepare for the rigors of a race, those become moot efforts if performed with a body that’s imbalanced and ill-prepared.
Consider, first, what endurance work really requires of the body. In short, endurance is the ability for prolonged repetitive motion. To achieve that, the body needs oxygen efficiency, explains Egoscue, something that calls for muscle balance and range of motion in the eight major load joints. “If you don’t have that, your endurance is compromised—it’s just that simple.”
Egoscue argues that, when it comes to speed, the ultimate goal is to find peace with effort. Defined in the dictionary, effort is strenuous physical or mental exertion. “The world of athletics believes that effort produces results, yet the world of achievement is replete with example after example that effort does not make results,” says Egoscue.
In other words: “The more you strain, the less efficient you become and degradation of performance occurs inevitably.”
Look no further than the incredibly efficient, relaxed, natural nature of elite Kenyan runners for proof of this. They complete record split times, win races all over the world, yet somehow still appear to be effortless in their work.
So what produces speed? “Intention,” says Egoscue.
If your intention is the ‘fun’ of speed and the ‘feeling’ of speed, that will trump effort. Effort will drop away, says Egoscue. And, put simply, if your body is balanced—allowing for optimal oxygen uptake and proper energy production—your movement is efficient and you don’t have to “effort” so hard. “Speed comes from the ability to stay relaxed,” Egoscue notes.
That’s where Elev8d comes in. Each workout is designed to allow the body to return to its natural, balanced form. Focusing on core movements, carefully curated exercises work the eight load joints (shoulders, hips, knees, ankles) in their full ranges of motion.
But arguably more important than that, Elev8d re-introduces the idea of fun, shattering the run psyche that suggests you must psychologically prepare yourself for the grueling experience of running distance.
The body was designed to run—and designed to run distances—and with a psychological mindset that allows you to truly enjoy what you’re doing, you’re primed for a positive experience on the road.