I didn’t set out to run three marathons in thirty days at the beginning of this year.
Originally I was only signed up to do the Manchester City Marathon in November with my sister Autum but then I decided to go for a PR at the Hartford Marathon in October. Then Trevor (my husband) talked me into running the Nor’witch Marathon in Vermont one week after Hartford which then gave me three marathons to run in the space of thirty days.
If you’re thinking about doing long distance races close to each other it’s important to ask yourself a few questions to determine how wise it is.
3 Marathons in 30 Days
Three Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are you a new runner? If you started running less than a year ago doing multiple long distance races can significantly increase your risk of injury.
- Are you currently injured or just coming back from an injury? Many issues with injury can be prolonged or exacerbated without adequate rest time.
- Are you cutting corners when it comes to sleep, nutrition, stress reduction, and cross training? If you’re not supporting your body well then doing multiple races will just increase your overall stress and hinder recovery.
If you can answer no to all those questions then it’s probably fine that you run multiple races close together. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to stay successful and healthy.
Tips on Doing Races Close Together
- Don’t race every marathon. Most people can’t give 100% effort successfully with multiple races. Have various goals besides fast times such as running with friends, not overly focusing on pace, running by feel/effort, and having fun along the way. When I did this recent stretch of close marathons my “A” race was the first one in Hartford where I got a new PR. My goal for the other marathons was simply to feel strong, listen to my body, and go the distance.
- Incorporate a “reverse” taper between races. Most of us are familiar with tapering before a marathon. This is where you gradually reduce the amount and intensity of your training leading up to race day so that your body is well rested and ready to give a great effort. A reverse taper means taking it easy post-race and gradually building back the amount and intensity of training according to what your body can handle. If you’re doing a marathon or half every 2-3 weeks this may mean that you’re not doing long runs in between races (other than 6-8 miles easy). Good ways to recover post-marathon include lots of walking, stretching, yoga, foam rolling, gentle cycling, swimming, and other low impact/non-intense activities. I also find that runners recover more quickly if they keep their effort level easy or in Zone 2 for the first couple of weeks post-marathon.
- Have a plan for recovery that you start post-race. This will include getting extra rest, gentle active recovery, foam rolling/stretching/yoga, massage, cold therapy, Epsom salt baths, wearing compression gear, eating foods to decrease inflammation, consuming plenty of protein, and limiting sugar/fried foods/alcohol. If you prolong your celebrating (especially when it comes to food and drink) too long post-race it will hinder how you recover and the long-terms strength and health of your body. I’m all for balance and enjoying great meals/snacks for a couple days after the race but it’s important to reign it in within a reasonable framework if you want to give your body the best possible support.
It really was a privilege to have such a strong fall race season and be able to run three marathons so close together. But I was definitely feeling very tired by the final marathon an probably won’t do marathons so close together again.
I really want to respect where my body is at and recognize that what may have worked in my 30’s may not be the greatest idea in my 40’s. My plan is to take three weeks off from training (or more if my body needs it) before starting to ramp up again before my 50th state in January.