Back to Back Marathons

I have gotten quite a few questions about my training and recovery plan between Eugene and Bayshore. I started to include an overview of what I did in my Bayshore Recap, but it was already a word vomit, so I thought I would come back to it in a separate post.

Eug to Bayshore

First, let me start by saying (again) that I have always been a one marathon a year runner. I had never considered back-to-back marathons and I have never run a marathon  for fun or as a training run so I had ZERO experience in how to approach this.

I got advice from a number of experienced runners on how to turn around back-to-back marathons, but in the end, I found that I generally went with Mason‘s suggestions most often. I have to give him a ton of credit for the high level plan plus the key piece of advice that my #1 goal should be to GET and KEEP my legs fresh. 

I had to accept that there really would be no training gains in the 4 weeks. And I had to trust that Eugene was one heck of a long training run and understand that recovery and maintaining fitness were crucial.

Unless you have a coach that has been previously invested in your training, only YOU know what keeps YOUR legs fresh. For some people that is increased mileage because they feel sluggish with too many days off. For some people that is decreased mileage and increased cross-training or rest. For some it is lots of yoga, stretching, walking, whatever…

For me, it meant when in doubt, default to less miles. It also meant that I needed some intensity (speed/tempo work) to remind my legs what it was like to turnover “fast”.

I was fortunate that I recovered very quickly from Eugene and was able to get in a solid long run the next weekend. If my legs had taken longer to recover (like if I had given a “normal” marathon effort), I think I would have had to take it easier the first week.

Week 1: 25 miles

  • 2 days complete rest, 3 total runs
  • Easy 5 – 7 on Wednesday & Friday
  • Spinning on Saturday
  • 14M long run w/3M @ MGP

Week 2: 47 miles

  • 5 total runs
  • 10M tempo (6M @ HMP)
  • 3 x Easy 4-7M
  • 18 mile long run w/ 6M @MGP

Week 3: 27 miles

  • 4 totals runs
  • 8M speed w/5x1K @ 5K pace
  • 2 x Easy 4 – 6
  • 9 mile long run w/4M @ MGP

Week 4 (Race Week): 8 miles 

  • 2 runs
  • 5M speed w/4×400 @ sub-5K pace
  • 3M @ MGP

I definitely ran fewer miles in the 2 weeks before the Bayshore than I did before Eugene. I knew that more than anything, I needed to be rested and recovered so when I wasn’t sure, I didn’t run. Plus, my tight hamstring had really flared up in the weeks between and I was concerned that it wouldn’t hold up.

So there you have it. I am no expert and I don’t claim that this plan would work for everyone, but I definitely went into Bayshore feeling like I had given my body the best chance it had to perform well and thankfully it responded.

Thank you SO much to Mason for the advice and wise words!

P.S. I don’t know if this was a factor, but I also ate EVERYTHING in the weeks between races. I am not sure what came over me, but I was so.hungry. the whole time. Somehow I managed to not gain any weight until the week before the race, when I gained about 2 pounds, which I am told is “normal” during taper.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in friends, Goals, injuries, Races, running, training. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Back to Back Marathons

  1. Sandy says:

    I think you had it in you the entire time and that day in Eugene was just not your day! Congratulations to you on a great comeback race! I know what you mean about being hungry!

    • Corey says:

      Thank you! I knew my fitness was there at Eugene, but it is crazy how the beast of a marathon can completely demolish you on one day and be your best friend on another!!

  2. Nicole says:

    Very helpful! I’m so glad you got a chance to try again and that it went so well! I think I over-carbo-loaded my first race, and then under-carbo-loaded my BQ attempt at OC. I need to find a balance where I eat a lot of calories/carbs but don’t feel heavy! I’m pretty sure my problem was primarily nutrition. Ah well, each attempt we live and learn! I’m also a 1 marathon a year girl – so next year I will be trying for that BQ again!

    • Corey says:

      To be honest, I hadn’t really thought that much about what I was eating the week or so before the race before. I mostly only thought about a day or two. But looking back, I definitely don’t think I was eating enough before Eugene. I was so busy and things were crazy and my nutrition definitely suffered. I am not sure I will ever have that crazy appetite like that before a race again, but I don’t think increasing what I was eating hurt at all!

  3. So interesting to read about how others train for back-to-back marathons. I ran Boston and then another marathon last weekend so mine were 7 weeks apart. I think that is easier in some ways because I was able to get in a few more quality weeks while also take a longer recovery period after the first one. It was the first time I’d ever done back-to-back and I discovered my iron levels were really low right after Boston so I was extremely fatigued and that led me to run very few miles. It all turned out well for me and I ran a PR in both races. Sounds like you had a great race at Bayshore. Somehow I missed your race recap so I’ll go back and read about it now. You look amazing in that second picture and so, so happy!!! Congrats!

  4. Jodi says:

    The lady next to you in your Bayshore pic looks so annoyed that you are having so much fun. 🙂 You really rocked it. Can’t wait to see how the rest of your races this year go.

  5. Terzah says:

    This was really helpful, Corey. I don’t know that I’ll ever trust my body to be robust enough to run back-to-back marathons, but now I know where to turn if it becomes an option! :^)

  6. Lauren says:

    I stil need to read your race report! (fail)

    This is a very interesting read! I’ve never done back-to-back marathons, but have created a plan for them (that seemed to work well!) and I would agree that recovery + getting your legs moving again is key, since there really isn’t any additional training you could do in just 4 weeks. I’m glad you had a schedule that worked so well for you. Something to keep in mind if you ever decide to do something so crazy again! 😉

  7. Great advice! I’m like you- I would cut back the mileage would try to maintain some intensity. I’m not sure that I’ll ever attempt back to back marathons, but this is certainly a good way to go about it!

  8. Pingback: 2014 MARATHONS WORLDWIDE Review

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