How to Run Back-to-Back Marathons

While recovering properly from one marathon before executing another marathon-specific training segment is the optimal approach to long-term progression, some runners have a daunting goal of running two or more marathons close together. 

Perhaps this is by choice because you're trying to run 50 marathons in 50 states, or you're challenging yourself with a back-to-back distance running event like Goofy's Challenge (a half marathon followed by a marathon). Maybe it's not planned, but after a disappointing first race, you're looking for redemption. 

More: 4 Ways to Learn From Your Marathon Experience

Whatever your reason for trying to run multiple marathons in a short time span, knowing how to approach the preciously short weeks between the two races is critical.

Training Before the Race

Surprisingly, your training leading up to the first race doesn't need to change much in preparation for both races. The same physiological principles of marathon training apply:  
  • You need to train your muscles and legs to handle running 26.2 miles fast   
  • To prevent bonking, it is imperative that you improve your ability to burn fat efficiently as a fuel source when running at marathon pace  
  • You have to improve your aerobic threshold

Developing all three of these abilities will increase your chances of success at both races. However, there are two things you can do in training to prepare more specifically for the challenge of running consecutive marathons.

First, as is the case with marathon training in general, the more you're able to train, the more likely it is that you will succeed. Simply speaking, the higher your training volume, the easier it will be to run and recover from the marathon. If possible, you should try to increase your weekly training volumes. 

More: Train Efficiently With Combo Workouts

Second, you should consider running some of your workouts and long runs back-to-back to simulate the recovery and fatigue you'll experience during race weekends. For example, you can schedule a longer, marathon-paced tempo run the day before a moderate long run. Doing so will help you refine your recovery protocol, and simulate running on tired legs. You don't want to do this for every workout or even every week. Pick one or two weekends to implement this training technique and make sure you schedule plenty of rest and easy recovery running after these challenging back-to-back days.

More: How to Complete a Marathon-Pace Progression Run

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