Training for Back-to-Back Races
May 08, 2019
You are in the midst of a training cycle for a full or half marathon. It’s going well and you are feeling awesome. The thought hits you, “since I’m already doing all of this training, why don’t I run more than just one race? Maybe I can use this fitness to run a race and then run another one 4 to 6 weeks later!” Is this possible? Is this smart? How do I train for back-to-back races?
Using the right strategy, this is an attainable task! The goals you set will dictate how achievable this task is as everyone is at a different stage in their running careers. If you are a seasoned runner who has been running for several years and is used to continuous high mileage and multiple races each year, running races about a month apart and running them well may be reasonable. If you are a beginner, this will be a more difficult task.
It will be tough to run an all-out effort for both races. Pick one race as your target race and complete the other race for fun, where your expectations are not as high. Think of the elite runners, there is a reason they run just a few target races during the year and not all out month after month.
For 1 to 2 weeks following the first race, focus heavily on recovery and do very little running. You’ve earned it! Trust the training you’ve already completed. Take care of your body, which was just put through so much. I’d recommend a combination of rest, massage, foam rolling, icing, cryotherapy, NormaTec, stretching, yoga and cross-training to replace running. Have fun with this change of pace!
For the next 1 to 2 weeks you can get back to running. This will help you mentally even more than physically as you’ve already put in a good amount of work. Keep speed workouts shorter than usual and don’t push too hard. Listen to your body and still focus on recovery.
For the final 1 to 2 weeks of training prior to the second race, you should taper just like you did for your first race. Mentally prepare for and visualize the race. Think of minor adjustments you might want to make based on the first race, but don’t experiment with anything new. It’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor once again!