Cross Training and the Twin Cities Marathon

By Sarah Ehlen 

“Oh, are you a runner?”

When I hear this question—whether it be from co-workers, acquaintances, or fellow Alchemists—I have to pause for a second before giving my answer. 

Historically, I would have answered with a resounding “no.” I grew up hating running. I avoided it at all costs, sneaking out of gym class to ditch running laps. I would have anxiety dreams in middle school the night before running “The Mile” for the Presidential Fitness Test, knowing I would be the literal last student to round the fourth lap of the track. 

It wasn’t until college that I started a new relationship with running. I went to school in Chicago, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have dance team practice dominating my free time. I, of course, wanted to see if the infamous Chicago Lakefront Trail was worth the hype, so starting the first semester of my freshman year, I set out on foot (at a very slow jog pace) to see my new home. 

Fast forward about… a decade, 2 full marathons, 8 half marathons, and a handful of 5K’s later, and I suppose it’s safe to say that, yes, I am, in fact, a runner. 

I am currently deep in my training for the Twin Cities Marathon. One thing you learn when training for a marathon is that your training schedule slowly but surely takes over your life. It often calls for four runs per week, two days of cross training, and one day of rest. And I (like many others) do it all while working our full-time jobs! 

The good news for me (and fellow runners in my non-company sanctioned Alchemy Run Club™) is that my cross training days require little brain power beyond checking the Alchemy schedule and rolling into class. Our workouts happen to be the perfect recipe for marathon cross training! I know in my heart of hearts that there is not a CHANCE I would be motivated to do my squats, lunges, push-ups, etc. without going to class. 

I have definitely encountered days in this training cycle in which I’ve had to modify or scale my Alchemy workouts to avoid sore quads or calves—no one likes to run 16 miles on jello-y legs. But ultimately, peppering my running with two Cardio or Strength classes per week has made me a stronger and more durable runner, both physically and mentally. 

Marathon training is no walk in the park. But with each passing week, my legs and cardiovascular system get a little tougher, and the miles get a little less scary. I attribute this to those mornings and evenings I get into the studio to crush a workout; always feeling better and more capable on the way out. If I can make it through “The Waterfall From Hell,” I can tackle just about anything. 

And though this solid cross training regiment is important, Alchemy has brought something even more beneficial to my training this year… running friends! It turns out running with a buddy is much more fun than running alone. There’s a pretty good crew of Alchemists out there hittin’ the pavement… Hit me up if you want to join! 


Sarah is a Coach at Alchemy and you can catch her across the Twin Cities at Northeast and Uptown! Outside othe studio, she is a middle school math and science teacher at a charter school in St. Paul. She loves working with kids, reading, watching trash reality TV, and most of all, her dog, Huckleberry.

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