Dear Fun and Fit: Quick workout question for you. I am starting to train to do a half-marathon in six months, and I’m wondering how to solve the age-old question — treadmill or elliptical machine?

I can do a mile faster on the elliptical but feel like I fatigue faster on the treadmill. Which one will get me best prepared for the half-marathon? Thank you, oh wise and great ones!

— Tina, Texas

Alexandra: Hi, Tina. I remember you from one of our very first posts. Welcome back!


Kymberly: Do both activities, as our post on the “Best Cardio Workout” discusses. You want to be as conditioned as possible, and all of one thing starts reducing the upward adaptation. “Why?” you ask.

Lookee at our other post on adaptation and fitness progression. Both the elliptical and treadmill will boost your foundational, general, aerobic capacity. For specific training, you need to actually walk and run — on a track, outside, wherever you can. You are smart to start now for the gig in a half-year.

A: I have a quick question for you. What are you doing during the other half of the marathon?

Anyway, our colleague, Jason Karp, is a specialist in running, so here’s one of his many articles that will help you prep for the race. It’s a bit technical, but you are very smart. And since all that running will make you even smarter, maybe you should read it while on your beloved elliptical. Or treadmill. Or both — one foot on each.

Oh, so this is how they talk people into running half-marathons.

Oh, so this is how they talk people into running half-marathons. (Creative Commons photo)

K: Do you have any joint issues? If so, spend more time or any sore time on the elliptical, which cuts impact. Ultimately, though, to perform best in an activity you need to do that activity, i.e. running. I’d suggest spending your initial two months on the treadmill and elliptical about half and half. And do some intervals to get your aerobic threshold up — not always steady state yet. Get on a cardio bike as well to reduce impact and joint stress as you increase miles and time.

Spend months three and four moving among elliptical, treadmill, running and power walking. By month five, spend the majority of time actually running and on the treadmill; reduce the elliptical and walking. By late in months five and six, go on the elliptical only if your joints need a break or you need a mental break. Otherwise, outside with ya, you running stud!

A: And when you complete that half-marathon, send us a wholesome gift. You’re welcome!

Readers: How do you train for half-marathons? What about ⅔, ¾ or ⅞ marathons?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to info@funandfit.org.