I have had lots of people ask me about how I managed to run consecutive marathons for 11 days in a row. Whether you are considering running multiple marathons; half marathons; 10k; 5k or any other run streak, I hope that my experience will help you prepare. Throughout this blog I will discuss what I believe to be the key to my success, and things to consider before your challenge, during and after each race. Hopefully this will inspire you to set your own multi-day challenge, or give you confidence to take on that challenge you weren’t sure possible. The most obvious thing that people always ask is how you recover to complete marathons in consecutive weekends, so no matter what your challenge, let’s see if my experience of 11 marathons in 11 days will help
Before your challenge
Before you take on your challenge you need to prepare. The most obvious is to work out what your challenge will entail. For my 11 marathons in 11 days it was relatively simple as they were all official marathons. However, if you are setting your own challenge you will need to consider your route.
I find that being organised helps to feel confident, and when you are taking on multiple days of running, this is important. I got my kit together in a #flatlay early each day, the day before my event, making sure I had all the kit I needed. I made sure I laid out my nutrition, and I kept this very simple, choosing to use Clif Bars and Clif Blocks. I knew that to get to the start would be difficult on public transport and stressful in the morning, including a 2 mile walk, so I opted for the more expensive, yet simple option of an Uber. It was not ideal, but it meant I could get to the start early, without any hassle.
During your event
The most important part of my challenge was to have a plan, and sticking to the plan is the best way to achieve your goals. Originally I had one goal; to finish my 11 marathons in 11 days. But I had a stretch target of achieving them all in sub 4. However, after the first day I tried to match my time, and this led to an additional challenge of trying to run each marathon at an even pace, to the same time.
I believe this additional challenge helped me to succeed. At times it was more difficult running at that same constant pace, it would have been easier to slow down, or at times to just let myself go and run faster. I found that running this even pace not only helped me mentally, but by having an additional focus, it kept me below my threshold. On any multi-day event you can’t just go for it each day, you need to take the whole challenge into consideration. Perhaps one day I could have ran a 3:30 or faster, I certainly think that would have been possible, but what would that have meant for the next day, or the day after. An even pace, a steady pace, is very important. For me that is a sub 4 marathon, but your steady pace will differ depending on your condition, and what the challenge is.
As well as pacing yourself, nutrition was the next most important factor during the event. I fuelled simply on water and Clif Blocks. I ran 8 laps, so just over 5k per lap. I carried a 500ml bottle of water at all times, drinking evenly so I changed every other lap, so I drank 2 litres during each marathon. I also took a Clif Block every lap at the turn point, so roughly every 5k. This meant throughout my challenge I had 88 blocks, yes I was fed up at the end. But I never felt short of energy and never had any stomach troubles I always say, during a challenge if you feel like you need a boost, like you need some nutrition, then you have left it to late.
During the event I had lots of aches and pains. It felt like a different part of my leg hurt every day, and this is always a cause for concern. However, during a multi-day event this is likely to happen, so just listen to your body and respond with your recovery. Of course it is important to recognise when it’s more than a niggle.
During any event, have confidence, and have fun. If you are smiling and enjoying the event, it makes it feel like it is going quicker and will feel easier. This was a tough challenge, and very boring at times, but I kept smiling. It was great to see lots of familiar faces as we passed each other in the laps. A smile, a wave and the exchange of some encouragement is a fantastic motivator.
After each event
Recovery Recovery Recovery.
I had a very set routine from the beginning that worked for me. I opted to not sway from it as I always say if its not broken don’t try to fix it. I am not entirely sure what part of my recovery routine worked best, or if any didn’t make much difference, all I know is that together it worked.
First of all I don’t watch what I eat during endurance events. You are burning so many calories that its important to just eat. I ate everything and anything I could get my hands on.
I walked to the station about 2 miles after each event. Part of me thinks this was not ideal, however it was a good opportunity to cool down and loosen the legs. When I got home each day I had a hot bath with bath salts. Everyone I speak to swears by cold baths, qnd how 10 minutes works a treat. Well for me, I find a lovely hot bath, with a cold beer, works a treat. After getting out of the bath I put on my oofos and tried my best to keep my feet up. I still had to get on with daily life, walking the dog; picking up the kids and so on, but always wearing my oofos.
On a few occasions I iced my knee and of parts of my leg, and to be honest, the day my hamstring hurt was a worry. Every evening I used my Pulseroll massage gun, but the magic didn’t really start to happen until I hurt my hamstring. Someone recommended using it on my glutes, which I never had, but the following day felt so much better.
After using the Pulseroll massage gun each evening I put on my CEP compression tights and I slept in them. The compression over night helped my legs to recover, so each morning they had the best chance to go again, and again and again.
A challenge like this is hard, but having support makes a huge difference. A mental boost can not be underestimated, and having family, friends and so much social media support was amazing. Watching donations come in for Cancer Research kept me motivated and all your kind words meant so much. I am so grateful for my wife and kids for their patience, understanding and encouragement. Thank you.
So the real question is what next? I’m left with a little bit of emptiness, and looking for ideas to fill the void. What challenges are you taking on? I’m really keen to hear about your endurance challenges and please do let me know if you have any questions that I can help with.