But the tips and workout plan below will help you prep for back-to-back races safely. (For what not to do, avoid the Most Common Race-Day Disasters.)
1. Choose Wisely
Stick to distances you have raced a couple times already, says exercise scientist Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D. You've trained your body to go the distance, and your mind to handle its challenges.
2. Practice Often
Eight weeks out, begin back-to-back training runs. (If doing a 13.1/26.2 double, begin 10 weeks out.) Mimic the race—if you're doing a 10K on Saturday at 9 p.m. and a half on Sunday at 8 a.m., do workout one Saturday evening, and workout two Sunday morning. Ditto if doubling up in one day.
More: 4 Steps to Condense Your Marathon Training Plan
3. Add Mileage
If the shorter race is first, run 80 percent of that mileage in workout one and 25 to 40 percent of the longer event's mileage in workout two. So for a 10KK/half-marathon double, run five miles in your first session and three to five miles in the second. Each week, keep mileage for the first run the same and add one mile to your second run—reverse if the shorter race is your second event. Five weeks out, drop mileage on both runs by 30 percent before increasing mileage again. Begin your taper two weeks out. For how to build up to a half-marathon/marathon double, see "Long Weekend" (below).
More: How Cross-Training Will Help Boost Your Mileage
4. Build Speed
Add short pickups to both workouts. If doubling up on 5-Ks and/or 10-Ks, start with one quarter-mile effort at goal pace. Each week, increase the length of the pickup and number of repeats. Build up to 3 x half-mile for a 5-K and 6 x half-mile for a 10-K. If doing a half-marathon and/or marathon duo, run quarter-mile pickups. Build up to eight pickups for the half, 16 for the full. Do pickups at any point, and run the rest of the session at long-run pace. (Try these 5 Exercises That'll Make You Run Faster
5. Pull a Triple
For three events in one weekend, do not run three times in two days during training--limited recovery can elevate injury risk. Add a third cross-training workout like swimming or cycling to offset running's impact, says Joe Puleo, head coach at Rutgers University-Camden. Time the XT to coincide with one of your scheduled races. Do it at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes.
More: 4 Rules to Avoid Runner Burnout
Build up safely for a 13.1/26.2 double (and follow the 10 Golden Rules of Race Success.)
|10 Weeks out
|9 Weeks Out
|8 Weeks Out
|7 Weeks Out
|6 Weeks Out
|5 Weeks Out
More: 13 Rules for Marathon Training
Get Ready to Go (Again)
Remember the 3 R's after one race, before the next
Restock glycogen stores immediately by replacing the calories burned in race one (roughly 100 calories per mile).
Restore hydration levels with 32 ounces of sports drink right after race (for the sodium).
Replenish sodium levels as you hydrate to help with fluid retention. Eat pretzels, nuts, or salted bagels.
More: 5 Tips to Speed Up Recovery for a Multi-Race
Find your back-to-back races.