Sarah Crouch Takeover

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to train with a group of elite runners?  To experience their daily schedules, workout routines, and eating habits?  Matt Fitzgerald, author of dozens of running books and owner of a 2:39 PR for the marathon had the opportunity to do just that!  Matt went to Flagstaff, Arizona and trained with a group of elite runners and documented his experience in his book, titled Running the Dream: One Summer Living, Training, and Racing with a Team of World-Class Runners Half My Age, which comes out in May.

Training with the Elite

Injuries become a common theme as we up our mileage and start getting older.  For some of us, we may believe we have set our last PR.  We can spend months or even years chasing that personal best only to realize those days are behind us.  Like many of us, Matt had similar experiences.  So, after going through a spurt of injury free running and believing that some of his best days were still to come, Matt developed the idea for Running the Dream.  

Matt reached out to elite running group, Northern Arizona Elite, about training with them and documenting is experience in a book.  Throughout the course of 13 weeks Matt experienced the lifestyle and full commitment of what it takes to be the best you can be.  

Running with individuals faster than us can be discouraging.  We can find ourselves comparing our times to theirs and this can be demoralizing. Imagine what Matt, age 46, felt like training with elite runners half his age at an elevation of 7,000 feet.  As Matt arrived to train he couldn’t even pass as one of the elite runners, let alone maintain the speed and miles they were.  However, this community of elite runners welcomed him in and made him feel like one of the group.

Matt’s goal was to do everything the pros did.  He would cross train in the morning, going through different routines of strength training, and then would run in the afternoon.  Training with these individuals took some major adjustments, but once the proper adjustments were made, Matt saw experienced incredible results.

Adjusting to the Altitude

Matt traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona, an altitude of roughly 7,000 feet from his home in California, which is at sea level.  Running at sea level is much different than running at altitude, but Matt was able to adjust fairly quickly and provided these three suggestions.

The first suggestion Matt provided was to prepare yourself prior to going to train at high altitude.  Matt spent eight weeks traveling the country and ran a marathon each weekend in a different location.  Developing a strong base of fitness can have a phenomenal impact on your training.  The second suggestion Matt provided was to begin taking iron pills.  Your iron supply is crucial if you are going to train and succeed at high altitude.  And the third suggestion Matt provided was to start slow.  Give your body time to adjust and gradually work up to your goal mileage and pace.  

Results of Training with the Elite

Being dedicated to your training can provide you with astounding results.  If we focus on our training and make getting our workouts in a priority, will can surprise ourselves with the final outcome.

This was the case for Matt.  After thirteen weeks of pushing his body and mind to their limits, he registered as an elite runner at the Chicago Marathon in 2017.  At the age of 46, Fitzgerald completed the marathon in 2:39:30, a new personal best!  He placed 146th out of nearly 45,000 participants and finished 5th in the men’s 45-49 age group.  

While not all of us may have the time, resources, or abilities to join an elite running group and give all of our attention to the sport, we can give focus to the workouts we are doing now.  By saying to ourselves, regardless of how today goes I am going to get my work out in, or, tomorrow I’m going to get up early, fight the urge to stay in bed, and go out on my run, we will also begin to experience amazing results.  If we want to continue to improve as runners and set new personal bests it is our responsibility to put in the work.  Stop making excuses and get out there and enjoy your next run!


Running the Dream (Book)

Matt’s Instagram

Matt’s Twitter

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:

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Thank you to my wonderful sponsor Tracksmith and Generation UCAN for sponsoring this episode of the Running for Real Podcast.


Tracksmith is a Boston based running clothing company that truly cares about the quality and care of their running clothes. Running can be a demanding lifestyle for our clothes, they definitely go through the wear and tear to where we may be purchasing new clothes constantly. Tracksmith designers truly work with the finest materials and think of you as a runner in mind with spots for your keys, phone, and fuel.

You can get 15% off your first purchase, click here and enter code TINA.

Generation UCAN has been with me through a lot of my races and in my every day life. This product has been my go to nutritional product for marathon training and racing when I was getting all of my best times. It gives you a steady energy without the sugar, so there are no sugar high or crashes!

Use code  TINAMUIR25 for 25% off.

I am now taking 3 months off to take some time to get to know my new baby, there is only ONE thing I will be continuing to work on while I am away, and that is my newsletter. I send it out once a week with just my thoughts, any updates, something I am appreciating, and it is just a way for me to stay connected with you all. 🙂

If you want to join go here to sign up!

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marathon, nutrition, racing tips

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