Running a Marathon on an Elliptical Trainer (2008) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Running a Marathon on an Elliptical Trainer (2008) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 10, 2014
Note from the Author: This essay, on the subject of my first elliptical-trainer marathon, was originally written and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2008. I seek to preserve this article as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time. 
Since 2008, I have run three additional elliptical-trainer marathon or ultramarathon sessions. They are as follows:
* December 1, 2012 – Marathon (42.2 km.) – 4:30:05
* February 2, 2013 – Ultramarathon (50 km.) – 5:10:50
* September 14, 2013 – Ultramarathon (55 km.) – 5:25:24
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 10, 2014
On August 31, 2008, I ran a marathon. That by itself was not particularly extraordinary; many people run marathons these days. My time for completing the 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) of running was slightly above average for my age – 4 hours, 24 minutes, and 51 seconds. The unique aspect of my marathon experience was how and where I ran it. This marathon was not an official event, and no one else participated in it. I simply went on an elliptical trainer in a nearby sports complex and ran the entire distance on the machine. It was a highly safe, beneficial, and rewarding experience – which I recommend to anyone who is considering running a marathon.

Why an Elliptical Trainer?

There are many advantages to running a marathon on an elliptical trainer instead of using the conventional method.

First, one does not fall prey to the vicissitudes of weather. Scorching heat, sun in one’s eyes, rain, excessive cold, snow, dust, fog, or dirt will not interfere with one’s marathon experience when one runs on an elliptical trainer.

Second, one does not risk one’s life by involving oneself with car traffic. Naturally, one cannot be run over by car while exercising indoors on an elliptical trainer.

Third, if one should by any chance feel unwell or unable to complete the marathon, one can stop immediately and seek help nearby. There is no risk that one might become stranded in the middle of the course without any way to obtain assistance for urgent conditions.

Fourth, one can always ensure that one’s body is well-supplied with water and energy. While running the marathon, I had four bottles of water and energy drinks on hand – all of which I consumed. I also brought a pack of salted almonds to keep my body supplied with salt and protein, as well as two energy bars for all other nutrients. I needed all this food, too, as I ended up burning 2665 calories in the course of the run, which for me is significantly more than a typical day’s food intake. For conventional marathon runners, dehydration and a shortage of salt in the body can often pose major problems, which running on an elliptical trainer can easily avert.

Fifth, an elliptical trainer is superior to a treadmill and to ordinary long-distance running in that one does not experience any jarring or severe impact as one’s feet repeatedly hit the floor. One’s body does not need to endure any collisions when one uses an elliptical trainer, which is supremely kind to its long-term health.

Sixth, an elliptical trainer does not make noise in the manner of a treadmill, and one does not have to contend with the environmental noise to which one is exposed when one runs outdoors. When running on an elliptical trainer, one could choose to have a quiet, peaceful atmosphere or to enjoy listening to music of one’s choice. Throughout my marathon, I listened to my favorite works of classical music on my iPod in order to keep my mind from focusing on the physical challenge of the run.

Seventh, many elliptical trainers have shelves on which one can put reading material. Because elliptical trainers do not involve a lot of jarring or bouncing, one can focus on a page of text without discomfort. During the course of the marathon, I read over 120 pages of Scott Gordon’s Controlling the State: Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today – a highly engaging book on how various societies’ constitutional structures have functioned throughout history to protect individual freedom. I now run six to eight miles on an elliptical trainer every day, during which time I either read printed material or listen to audio books. In this way, I combine exercise, work, and leisure and make the most efficient possible use of my time. By reading, as by listening to music, I am able to distract my mind from thinking about the physical discomfort brought about by the exercise.

Eighth, running long distances on an elliptical trainer is unconventional and gives one something that sets one apart from the crowd. Not many people have the imagination, curiosity, and willpower to try an elliptical trainer marathon – but a brief consideration of its advantages ought to convince many reasonable people that this approach to marathon running is preferable to dealing with all the vicissitudes and unnecessary stresses of the conventional method. By running an elliptical trainer marathon, you can become one of the pioneers of this new, efficient, rational method of intense and supremely healthy exercise. I like to tell people that, by running a marathon on an elliptical trainer, I was able to engage in pure running, isolated from all the environmental inconveniences that often accompany it.

My Motivations and the Marathon Experience Itself

Prior to my elliptical trainer marathon, I had never run a distance nearly that long. My longest prior distance was 16 miles – or about 25.7 kilometers. I had, however, been running regularly for approximately eight years prior to undertaking this endeavor, so any distance under ten miles does not stress me considerably. I am not a competitive runner, nor have I ever been on a track or cross-country team; I am a pure individualist when it comes to exercise, as its sole purpose, in my judgment, is to secure and maintain my health. I know that I will never set records; my only goal in this realm is to live as long as possible and to enable my body to serve me without pain or discomfort. I saw running a marathon as the ultimate test of my health and fitness; being healthy does not require that one run a marathon, but running a marathon does indicate that one is healthy.

The entire marathon went smoothly for me; there was not a single instance when I felt any pain – though a degree of exhaustion was naturally unavoidable. However, I never once felt myself functioning on my last stores of energy, likely because I took care to continually replenish my body’s energy stores and to keep myself well-hydrated. During most of my run, I simply thought about the music I was listening to or the book I was reading; occasionally, I performed mental calculations regarding how much time I had remaining. The elliptical trainer told me the distance I had traversed, and my Polar F6 Heart Rate Monitor informed me of how many calories I had burned, my heart rate at any given time, and the cumulative time of my exercise, so I always had abundant data with which to monitor my progress and on which to base my expectations. At the end of the marathon, I felt that I could have run another ten miles without substantially affecting my condition. I was able to speak coherently, move with my usual dexterity, and analyze the book I had read without any impediments. I therefore suspect that most severe problems experienced by conventional marathon runners come not from the running itself, but from all the environmental stresses of running outdoors for a protracted period of time without having ready supplies of food and water on hand.

If you are in any shape to run, you, too, can run an elliptical trainer marathon. As for any long-distance event, it will be necessary to train for some period of time by running shorter distances and building up your endurance as well as developing a pace that will not exhaust you within the first few miles of running. Just remember to put safety and some baseline of comfort first and to work at your own rate, taking up challenges only when you feel confident that you will be able to overcome them. Exercise is not about being tough or meeting other people’s expectations; it is about health and long life. If you keep this in mind, a lot of innovative possibilities will be open to you.

3 thoughts on “Running a Marathon on an Elliptical Trainer (2008) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

  1. Im 43 have been running on an eliptical for some time 4 months now usually 5 miles at a clip 3 times a week. The other day I tested myself and did 10 miles. I am going to take this on as a personal challenge. I will just need to block 4 hrs and find a show on Netflix to binge on.

  2. I have a few friends who run on treadmills or outdoors, but my feet, ankles, knees, bladder (thanks kids), and bosom all say “NO!” to traditional running. So when they set goals of running half-, full-, or (insanely) ultra-marathons, I say, “Thanks, but no thanks!”

    But I can run elliptical. An ELLIPTICAL marathon? That’s something I could build up to. And I think I will. Thanks for putting the idea into my head!

  3. I had the same idea (i.e. – running a marathon on the elliptical trainer). I started to train in august last year, and yesterday I finally did it: I ran the equivalent of 43 kilometers. I feel naturally tired, but I am quickly recovering.

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