Don’t Run a Marathon Without This New Training Method

Training for a high mileage race is grueling, emotionally and physically. This total-body conditioning method will change the way you train.

April 19, 2018 | by

Running has always been my friend. It’s my go-to form of exercise when I need a quick shot of endorphins and my antidote for anxiety.

For most of my life, we’ve gotten along well, too. I’d run when I needed a workout, a little stress-relief, or time outdoors. And even when I kicked up my mileage to train for a half-marathon, my runs delivered: good moods, improved fitness, easy distance. They never gave me much trouble.

Tired quads, achy joints, and plantar fasciitis, I thought, were worries for other runners.

But in January I decided to run the Boston Marathon—a special race for me as a Bostonian—and my runs started to fight back.

High mileage inevitably led to some of those soft tissue pangs. Exhaustion set in and sore muscles became commonplace.

I figured it had to be something I was doing (or not doing). And as Pete Egoscue, co-founder of Elev8d Fitness has told me: “Marathoners, in my view, are overtrained.”

It’s not just all of the mileage, he explains. It’s all of the repetition. Runners move for hours on end in one plane of motion. They train moving forward. They lift weights in forward motions.

What’s more, runners often have compromised posture (rounded shoulders, a forward hanging head). And, as Egoscue explains, they unknowingly hindering their stride length, turnover rate, and the power to accelerate with these dysfunctions. In short, runners are often their own worst enemies, making their mileage tougher than it needs to be.

A glance in the mirror revealed internally rotated shoulders, and I wasn’t focusing on warm-ups or cool-downs—aligning my body for exercise—as much as I should have. I was focused, instead, on simply logging the miles. I was one of the runners that Egoscue was talking about.

Related: Sign-Up for a 14-day FREE trial with Elev8d Fitness

How Elev8d Fitness Got Me to the Starting Line of My First Marathon

Here’s where Elev8d Fitness came in. Two months out from the race I started working in 8- or 16-minute sessions, four times a week. Oftentimes, I did the workout before my run.

At first glance, the exercises looked easy—even elementary. I recognized moves like Cat and Dogs or Hangouts from yoga class and wondered how useful they could really be in preparing my body for a marathon.

But, much to my surprise, moves like Elev8d Side Unders and Bear Crawls (in a 600 square-foot apartment, no less) proved quite challenging. And while these exercises felt unnatural, even awkward, at first, soon they came much more naturally—as if they had been what my body was craving.

Moving in different planes of motion (side to side, over and under, and even backwards across my living room) made me realize how much of the same work I had been doing over and over again—not only my runs but in traditional strength training.

My previous combination of yoga, weights, stretching, and core work had been time-consuming and tiring. I found Elev8d to be the opposite: streamlined, efficient, and fast.

Fitness doesn’t need to be over complicated; sometimes the basics are the best and most effective.

Elev8d also introduced me to upper body exercises that are important for running form—many of which runners eschew in lieu of lower body work.

Moves like Standing Arm Circles and Finish Line Abs made running feel more natural. After just a few sessions, my muscles felt freer, as if shedding away stress I didn’t know I was hanging onto.

After all, I knew the Elev8d workouts were working all eight of my load joints through their complete ranges of motion. And I knew this was important. But I also know that sometimes there’s a gap between knowledge and action: It’s easy to know you should do something; harder to do it and truly feel the results.

But when I hit the road with Elev8d as a part of my routine, the dots started to connect themselves. I felt range of motion. I felt my different body parts working together—from my foot hitting the ground to my ankle lifting up and my calf muscles, all the way up my legs to my torso and shoulders. Running felt easier, lighter—like something I was meant to do. It was my friend again.

In time, my body wasn’t fighting the high mileage, it was adapting to it. Training for your first marathon is not easy. It’s hard work for body and mind. But because my body was well-equipped, I even found that was having fun training—before I laced up and during the runs.

And shouldn’t that be the whole point of exercise?

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