Saucony 26 Strong: Cross-Training for a Marathon

Betty Taylor and Christy Hunt are training for one of the later marathons this year—the California International Marathon in Sacramento on Dec. 8. So they’re at the start of their “official” marathon training right now. But that’s given them the opportunity to do some cross training in preparation for the long road to the race.

Both Betty and Christy are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals.

Vet Betty kicked off her training program with the Napa Valley Half Marathon on July 21, in which she set a PR. “The timing was perfect for, as the beginning of our training plan gave me some time to recover.”

But in preparing for her half this summer, Betty also took advantage of some atypical training for marathon runners. One of her favorite things to do his hit the gym for some sparring in the boxing ring.

“I try not to stress out if I need to move a run to another day, or substitute another activity in its place,” she says. That could include a bout in the ring or some hiking.

“My longest ‘run’ was a hike up Half Dome in Yosemite,” she says. “It was 14 miles round trip, there was a 5,000-foot elevation gain and it took almost 12 hours.”

Particularly before a training program begins, or in its early stages, its nice to mix things up. After all, you’ve got a lot of running ahead of you.

First-timer Christy has also been spending time at the gym, but more out of necessity. “The toughest part for me is trying to get my workout in everyday with three little kids at home,” she says. “I have to do most of my training at the gym.”

But the pair will soon be taking their training outside more, with two Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons on the training schedule before their big race—San Jose on Oct. 6 and Las Vegas on Nov. 17.  “We’ll have to run 7 miles before Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, since we our plan calls for 20 miles that day,” Betty says.

But even though it’s early in the training program, both are optimistic about their plan.

“My goal is to cross the finish line alongside Christy,” says Betty. “I am looking forward to sharing her journey as she achieves her goal.”

“I’ve had not setbacks so far,” Christy says. “My only goal is to finish.”

To learn more about the Saucony 26 Strong program and its runners, visit


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