Running MORE THAN ONE MARATHON?!? Here's my quick guide to multiple marathoning!
I hope you’re having a good week, with all those running Brighton and Manchester now in taper mode, I’m sure the excitement is building! Let me know if you have any last minute questions?
This week I wanted to have a chat about running multiple marathons, how to go about it, how to recover and what are the pros and cons of taking on such a feat. Have you done this? What worked for you between races?
First off, I’m sure there will be many people out there who would say running more than one marathon per training cycle is not a good idea, whereas there are many who love running 2 or even 3 marathons over a two month period each Spring or Autumn. Hey, Ben Smith ran 401 marathons in 401 days.. so we know it’s possible!
As a side note, I have to be honest and I really can't recommend doing this.. I completely get why people do and have done it myself many times. But running a marathon is a huge undertaking. So this article is for those who just can't get enough running into the diary and want to undertake these challenges!
What I would say though is if you are planning on running multiple marathons, then make the first marathon your goal race. Make it the one you want to do well at, whatever you goal is, so line up all your training for this event.
Going into your other races with a ‘lets have some fun’ attitude will take the pressure off and give you a different perspective on running.
Have a read over the recovery article from a few weeks ago for all the recovery tips and advice that are relevant here.
Again, there will never be a one size fits all plan for this.. we are all human and react differently to different scenarios. With different body types, training backgrounds and lifestyles it will be hard to gauge exactly, but this should give you a basis of which to make a plan.
One Week Between Marathons
- You’re really on your own here! Admittedly I have done this, I actually ran a 2:41 / 2:37 / 2:36 and a 100 mile race over a 5 week period a couple of years ago.. but looking back it wasn’t sensible, pretty dangerous and a month later I was injured with an over use injury and out for 6 weeks. I learnt the hard way!
- If running back to back marathons is where you find yourself though, maybe doing Boston and London, Brighton and Manchester etc.. then your sole focus has to be recovery. Get a massage on the Tuesday. Walking will be so important here also, then adding in some very short and super easy runs by Wednesday. Sleep as much as you can, get a massage mid week and certainly don’t do any ‘fast’ running. Monday, Rest. Tuesday, Rest, Wednesday, 3-5 miles easy, Thursday Rest, Friday 4-6 miles easy, Saturday 3-5 miles easy or rest. Sunday race.
Two Weeks Between Marathons
- You will have a little time to train here, but the focus has to still be recovery. Regardless of what you do in these two weeks, you can’t really improve your fitness, so concentrate on easy activities that promote recovery. If your budget permits then schedule a massage for the first Tuesday or Wednesday after the race and again a week later. You have to let your body take the lead. If you are feeling tired, sore, then rest. For me I found the mental side of getting ready to race again very hard, so always took away any goals, other than to complete and have fun.
- A rough schedule would be to rest Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Keep walking and focus on a step goal, rather than any running goals. Run Thursday, very easy, run Saturday, again very easy, then go for a longer run on the Sunday. For a ball park on the distance, look around 3 miles / 5km on Thursday, 5 miles / 8km on Saturday, then 90 minutes to 2 hours on Sunday. All easy, low intensity, conversational. Keeping in your zone 2 heart rate zone (if you have a reliable heart rate monitor) will ensure you’re keeping it easy.
- For the week of the race I’d recommend following your taper plan for your first marathon for the same week, but don’t be afraid to add in an extra rest day if you are feeling fatigued. Running a 4 x 5 minutes at goal pace on the Tuesday would be good, but nothing faster.
Four Weeks Between Marathons
- At this level you can certainly try and add some fitness and look to have another solid race at the marathon. You still have to really listen to the feedback from your body and head as well, as mentally getting back into running hard can be tough so soon after the big marathon effort.
- Week 1 should still be entirely recovery, easy running, walking, cross training. With a 60-90 minute run at the weekend. Week 2 you could start to add in some shorter speed sessions, but you have to be sensible and if you’re tired then rest and keep the recovery focus. Week 3 and 4 you can follow your taper weeks from your previous marathon, perhaps with slightly more volume on week 3 if your legs allow, then a big taper down in week 4.
Six Weeks Between Marathons
- At this period we can add some fitness and certainly try to get back into shape for running another great race. We still need to focus on recovery solely for the first week and most of the second week. Only running when we feel like it and when the body gives the green light. Then weeks 3 and 4 you should be able to train as normal. Personally I’d pick the favourite sessions that you were doing in the marathon build up and try to replicate them here. Before again following your taper period from your original marathon for the remaining two weeks.
So there we have it, a few ideas to get you ready for your race after the race. At the end of the day we all run to have FUN, so don’t be too hard on yourself with what happens over the Spring. Keep smiling, keep training sensibly and keep on getting it done!
All the best