How to Safely Run Back-to-Back Marathons

A listener named Neisha sent in a great question recently. We read it on podcast episode #151 where I talk about my double marathon.

Hi Angie and Trevor – I have been an avid listener of your podcast from the beginning, and I still look forward to every podcast that comes out. My question is about marathon training for back to back races. This fall I am signed up for 2 half marathons and 3 full marathons (Marine Corps, Vegas, and Dallas). While I typically run 2 marathons every fall (in addition to shorter races), I am curious to know what you recommend for making my training most effective so that I can perform well in October, November and December marathons. Thank you! -Neisha

My answer . . .

How to Safely Run Back-to-Back Marathons

It’s very possible to train for back to back races and have a great experience.

  1. The first thing you will want to do is make sure that you lay a good endurance base of running over the summer. This will ensure that when you increase your mileage for the fall marathons that you’ll have less of a chance of injury. It’s not a good idea for a beginning runner to do back-to-back longer race distances.

  2. Next, train for the courses that you’ll be running adding things like hill training if needed and at least a couple night long runs to prepare for Vegas. You’ll also want to continue with some low impact cross-training to balance and strengthen the body.

  3. The third thing you’ll want to do will be to identify any “A” races that you have. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to PR at all of these events so having a specific goal for each one can be helpful. Some can be used as training runs, done with friends or paced to support your training goals.

  4. Fourth, write out the dates of your races so that you can plan tapering time before each race and also recovery time afterward. When doing close races you want to prioritize rest and recovery. My advice would be to peak your training three weeks before Marine Corps, then take a good week to recover afterward and just do short to moderate length easy runs between then and Vegas. Then you’ll follow a similar scenario between Vegas and Dallas. Since there really aren’t many training plans geared toward running multiple races in a season some people find that it helps to hire a running coach.

  5. Factors like listening to your body and taking care of any issues while they’re minor, training smart by including plenty of easy days in your schedule, cross training, dial in your nutrition by cutting way back on processed sugar, and getting plenty of sleep will all help make multiple races possible and more pleasant.
Marathon #1 of the New Mexico State Park Series

Marathon #1 of the New Mexico State Park Series

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2 Responses to How to Safely Run Back-to-Back Marathons

  1. Sonny August 24, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    I’ve been wondering about how to train for back to back marathons for a while so thanks for addressing this issue and thanks to Neisha for asking this question.

    • Angie Spencer August 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

      You’re welcome Sonny. All the best as you continue your running journey!

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