Running a marathon is something that is a huge challenge, and people need to mentally prepare for one. The first is always that more difficult, when you venture into the unknown. Once you get the marathon bug some people may run one or two a year. You hear all the time about the importance of recovery, but then there are those that do multiple marathons on multiple weeks or even days. This autumn it is likely that people have had races moved resulting in back to back marathons. If this is something you haven’t considered doing before it will be a scary prospect, and many of you will be asking the question, can I do it? The simple answer is yes you can!!!
First of all ask yourself do you want to? Not everyone will want to run back to back marathons, and if you really don’t want to then don’t. Consider which race you want to do and defer the other. Don’t do it just because it’s been moved, if this really isn’t something you want to do then don’t put yourself through it.
But, if there is a part of you that wants to, but you are just worried about whether you can, then read on and let me help you prepare. Just know that you CAN do it, so mentally prepare yourself and be confident.
Pick your goal race
The art of running back to back marathons is to treat them as a whole. Just think, you run back to back long runs in training fine, so of course you can do this. The difference is the intensity. So pick the race you want to target, and work out the rest around this. Your strategy for the back to back marathons will change depending on which you want to race. You may decide that you don’t want to race any, and just enjoy them. The easier you take it, so the relatively easier pace, the more you can do without risking injury.
When running multiple marathons recovery is absolutely essential. Consider what works for you and develop a recovery routine. I like to use compression during the race with my CEP socks. I will often put on recovery tights for bed the night after the marathon. I try to take the weight off my feet and rest as much as possible, wearing my oofos. Then depending on what I’m doing and where I am in the world, a massage is always nice. Although I try to rest as much as possible, I also find a recovery run really helps to shake out the lactic acid and leaves me feeling fresher afterwards.
As well as resting your body, what you eat and drink after is essential. Now I’m not going to say that I am the perfect role model for this. I just like to eat meat and burgers, and I have a big appetite. I also like to have a few beers after a race. The ideal fuel would be protein rich, with plenty of water.
“A” race approach
Your goal race in a season is often referred to as your “A” race. If it is your “A” race then be confident and go out as you normally would (My Top tips for running a marathon). Fuel how you normally would beforehand, and tackle it the same as you always would. If you are doing this as the second marathon you may feel tired, but you will be surprised what you can do… To this day my PB comes in my second marathon of my first Back to Back marathon. In 2013 I ran Brighton Marathon, and the following week I got a PB, and a GFA (until they changed the times) at London Marathon.
If your “A” race is your first race you then have the opportunity to take the next more leisurely, and you never know, you may feel good and surprise yourself again. But at least there will be less pressure on yourself. Treat it as a nice long run. If you didn’t do as well as you hoped in your first, then this may be a second chance.
If you are running a marathon before your goal race then treat it like a training run. Take it slow and steady and dont push to hard. Remember the idea is to finish feeling strong for the following week. You can even walk part of the way, or slow down. I’ve known people to run 20 miles as they would a training run, and them walk / jog the remaining 6.
Between races just rest and recover. Concentrate on doing whatever you usually do to recover but don’t try getting extra miles in. Sure do a shake out run or recovery run, but minimise miles and effort. Fuel well and hydrate. Rest as much as possible and sleep. You don’t need to be running in between, the recovery is far more important.
My autumn was already packed with numerous back to back marathons, so I was already busy. Now I have clashes and some I will have to cancel, but I dont have a free weekend in between September and November. I am sad to be missing Manchester and Chester which I had planned, and not all my races are confirmed.
For those interested I hope to be running…
Milton Keynes Marathon
New York Marathon
Who will be joining me. Are you going to do your back to back with me?
7 thoughts on “Top tips for back to back marathons”
What a lovely positive and cheery post with some really really good advice. I’m going to share this in my running club and home Facebook. And good luck with all those though I know you’ll smash them all, whatever smashing counts as in each one.
Thank you so much. The plan is always help inspire and motivate everyone
Thanks Paul, like the idea of an “A” race, London is mine with a sub 4 target, but have now found myself running London, Chicago and Paris in three consecutive weeks. Did Berlin last year and recovery was within the week. Will be a challenge but also a unique opportunity. Also using the next few months to trim up, build the core and do the prep.
You can do it mate. Well I am pacing sub 4 at Chicago so depending on how you are feeling then, we can get it done 💪
Hi Paul, great article. Any plans for any back to back this year 2021? I am considering Berlin and London in the fall.
Thanks mate… Well who knows. I have events scheduled for the whole of Sept and October