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Multiple Marathons

Updated on January 15, 2012

Running back to back marathons

Is it safe to run back to back marathons? How much time should you allow to recover in between? A few hours after completing my first marathon I was wondering when I should start training for another one. It may have been that I was still on an endorphin high from running 26.2 miles or I could be just one of those weird people that loves pain. Either way, I was determined to do it again and struggled with the idea of how soon was too soon.

It could be compared to childbirth in a way. When you are in the midst of it you think or even shout, "I don't want to do this ever again!", but soon after it is over the pain is forgotten and replaced with joy. I wouldn't dare equate the joy of completing a marathon with that of loving a child, but the loss of the memory of suffering takes place in both. If it didn't there would be no siblings, only a firstborn. So, we go back for more.

There we were, my husband and I, the very next day after our first marathon. Hobbling like two elderly people over to the computer to look up when and where we could sign up for the next round of torture. As it turned out, finances kept us from the our second marathon until the next year, but just 3 months shy of our second we were running our 3rd marathon. Then 2 months after that, we found ourselves running our 4th, which turned out to be a PR for me and for some reason I felt great all the way through.

Some people say that you should rest one day for every mile raced. That would be unrealistic if it were taken litterally as for a marathon that would be 26.2 days of no running. I take the more realistic approach to that and tend to think that it takes 26.2 days to feel your speed is back up to par, but I usually do some easy runs a few days after to ease the soreness. After that I ease back into training and pay close attention to my body, backing off if anything feels slightly off or out of sorts. After a couple of weeks of easing back into training, I find that I am able to get back to doing some intervals and tempo runs while gradually increasing my mileage for the next marathon.

There are some great training programs out there, designed specifically for running multiple or back to back marathons. I personally used a modified form of Hal Higdon's training plan for back to back marathons. Depending on how many weeks you have in between races you may be in more of a maintenance mode than doing any actual training. That is fine and works well as you are capitalizing on the training you did from the previous race and carrying it over to the next one. I personally like that idea just because I always feel like I am in such good physical shape after the first race that it seems a waste to let it go. That being said, everyone is different and you know your own body and what it can handle better than anyone. If your body is able to tolerate a 20 mile long run every 3rd weekend while keeping up speedwork and intervals during the week than why not go for it? Is it safe? That question I believe has an individual answer for each of us and is subject to things like prior injuries, overall health, and genetics. I am going to leave the final answer to the safety question between you, your doctor, and your best judgement.

My hubby and I after the Orange County Marathon, May 2011. It was our 4th marathon together.
My hubby and I after the Orange County Marathon, May 2011. It was our 4th marathon together.
My husband in the El Paso Marathon, March 2011.
My husband in the El Paso Marathon, March 2011.


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