I recently ran two marathons within 14 days of each other and lived to tell the tale. Here are my thoughts on why I did this and some tips on how to manage this if you find yourself in the situation of being crazy enough to attempt it (no, just joking – it really isn’t that crazy). The truth is, I never really planned on running two marathons in two weeks, but it turned out well for me. After Richmond, I just really really wanted to have another crack at the marathon and when I found the NCR Trail Marathon, it seemed awesome. For me, I just felt dissatisfied (even though every word of my Richmond recap is true and I wouldn’t have changed it at all) and wanted to try one more time to get a time that was closer to what I know I’m capable of. If you find yourself in a similar situation – or you just want to run two marathons that happen to take place very close to each other, here are my tips:
- The most important thing I recommend is not “racing” both races. What do I mean by this? If you are running back to back marathons, both of them can’t be your “A” goal races. If you are planning to race back to back marathons (or half marathons, etc.), then designate one of them as the race in which you’ll really push the pace, and use the other as a training run. Running 26.2 miles hard multiple times within a few weeks is probably not a good idea and could make you a ripe candidate for injury.
- Come up with a training plan for the time between races. I structured my training and recovery from Richmond (November 15) to be prepared for the NCR Trail Race on November 29. I did a reverse taper and ran 3-6 miles four times in the 14 days I had in between races. More importantly, I rested well, got in some cross training (walking and barre classes) and I tried to hydrate very well. Michelle who blogs at NYC Running Mama gave me some tips as she had done the same thing.
- Come up with realistic goals. This is especially important if your second race is a “redemption” race to make up for a disappointing race/DNF (did not finish)/etc. at your first race. If you weren’t planning on running two races in a short time, you may need to adjust your goals. For me, I wanted to run a race that was more in line with my training. I knew that my original goal probably wouldn’t happen but I felt I could PR – and I did!
- Get some support! As I mentioned above, I chatted with Michelle about running two races in two weeks, and she was supportive. I also chatted with some other runner friends. The general consensus was you can do it if you’re smart about it. I highly recommend talking to someone who has done this just to bounce questions off of them. Running two marathons in two weeks is something that most of my friends and family think is insane, so I knew I needed perspective from other crazy runners!
- Don’t be afraid to reevaluate. I was prepared to just take it super super super easy if it turned out that the cramps I felt running Richmond happened again. Luckily, the didn’t – but if they had, I would’ve adjusted my plan. Recognize that you are putting your body through stress and until you’ve done it, you can’t be positive how your body will react. Be kind to yourself and adjust if needed.
So, would I do it again? Yes. In fact, I did it again in the fall of 2015 – I ran the Wineglass Marathon on October 4th and then ran Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th. I was able to put these tips back into action and run two well executed (for the most part!) races. I also ran two half marathons in back to back weekends in November (Richmond and Annapolis), so these tips really do work!
A version of this post first appeared at Women’s Running.
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Have you ever run back to back races?