The Marathon: Badge of Fitness Honor?

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way demeaning the endurance community or marathon athletes of any level. I think it’s possible to separate the idea of wanting to run a marathon and the perception that marathons mean more than they really are. That is all.


How is it that we’ve arrived at a worldview that running a marathon is our standard, sure-fire sign of true fitness in America? Looking at the starting line of a marathon will give you a good idea what the best of the best look like. Take a look.



These athletes are phenomenal at what they do. Furthermore, their specialization in their sport is of a caliber on par with the best of the best in the NBA, the NFL, and numerous Olympic sports. However, taking the stance that this activity is in some way achieving a fitness milestone for success is completely misguided in my opinion.

It’s worth noting (again) that I’m not knocking the desire to do a marathon or even to compete in twenty of them, if that’s what an athlete wants to do. All I’m questioning is that the idea of running 26.2 miles and logging long, slow miles to do it is an incredibly prolonged stress on the body which eats away at muscle tissue and performance across nearly all other domains except the run-26.2-miles-domain. I’m confident that the men pictured above have painfully weak vertical leaps, quite possibly suffer from significant metabolic derangement, and have range of motion issues.

I’d argue that many people that take on marathons because they just want to be more fit. They want to look, feel, and perform better. However, I’d argue that they’d much rather look, feel, and perform like these guys:

100m Event

100m Event

Yet, they want to train like this:

A Los Angeles based running group.

A Los Angeles based running group.

Again, I’ll support anyone who wants to do a long event. Heck, I want to do a long event. But, I think we are due for a perception change. The days of believing fitness and training is about heart rate and minutes of cardio is dead. It’s been dead and it’s time that we embrace what is tried a tested. Give your bodies a rest. Volume will lose to skill and intensity in the long run every damn time.

First, I think we ought to get clear on our goals. Once you’ve done that I’d challenge you to figure out if what you’re doing is really in line with that. Many of us won’t have success, simply because our plan wouldn’t help us reach our goals.. not even in a million years. Think about that.

Put your goals out there. Reach out to a coach. We can’t wait to help you!


Logan Gelbrich


Tuesday’s Workout:

Complete the following for time:
30 Double KB Shoulder-to-Overhead (53/35)
400m Run
20 Double KB Front Squats
400m Run
10 Double KB Thrusters
-Rest 1 min-
60 Squats