Is two in two too much?

alg marathon meb keflezighi Is two in two too much?

Meb's the man

Earlier this week, the New York Times posted an article talking about Meb Keflezighi and the fact that he is one of the few elites who is running a fall marathon (NYC) as well as the Olympic trials in January. The article talked about how for the elites, it’s pretty tough to peak for both events. Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanigan, Kara Goucher–they’re all either sitting out a fall marathon, or running an earlier one (Chicago for Hall).

Which of course got me to thinking about ordinary age groupers and whether or not we can or can’t do well at two marathons so close together. My conclusion? Totally individual thing.

For me, two in two months would probably be suicide. I’d be hurt or at the very least, not perform well at one (I’m guessing the second). I pour so much into marathon training, both physically and mentally, that once I’ve crossed the finish line, I need a break. Speedwork in the coming month? Runs longer than 14 in that month? Not happening for me.

But. There are plenty of examples of people out there who are managing multiple marathons a season and managing them well. Erin of SeeMomRunFar comes to mind right away. She did two marathons earlier this fall, I believe about two weeks apart, and PRd them both. She has number three coming up in NYC, and if her recent tweet on her Yasso pace is on, she’s got PR number three coming soon.

I’m jealous of a body and mind that can hold up to that kind of training and racing. However, the key is to know your limits and stick to them.

Do you race back-to-back marathons?

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  1. Love this post!
    Ya Erin & Dawn are the runners that come to my mind. Lots of racing. I love it. I’d say my body is happiest at 4-5 but …… :) I love races!!
    Emz recently posted.."Make Me Proud" – Drake {plus…. giveaway winner!}My Profile

  2. Thanks for writing this post! I have been wondering about this myself. I was wondering if I am racing TOO much. I ran my first full in May, and I still feel like I am struggling to get back on track. My next full is the Goofy in January 2012 and the training is just wearing me down. I don’t know how people run more than one marathon in a year….or ever?!

    Maybe I just need to work up to it more. I heard that elite athletes only have so many “good” marathons in their legs, but I don’t know if that is true or if it applies to the rest of us. I just hope to make it in January!
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  3. I’m with ya, Miss Z. Totally jealous as well of those who can bang out marathons after marathon with no problem.

    My goal is 3 in 2012. That is likely my limit. Praying that I can do Carlsbad in January and then (hopefully) Pasadena in May. Then perhaps another one in Nov/Dec.. Maybe Philly? We’ll see. I’m being REALLY optimistic here.
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  4. I’m still gearing up for my first marathon in November, so I’m not sure how I’ll be able to handle them quite yet. Generally though, I feel good even after 20+ mile runs, so I suppose it really is individual. To be honest, I think the mental break is even more important than the physical one!
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  5. At this point no, and I don’t plan on it. Plus, I think it’s fun now to look forward to shorter races after all of the marathon training!
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  6. I have yet to run a marathon.

    Someday. Someday.

    I have only ran one 5K this year. I stopped running once I found out I was pregnant (actually completed my 5K 8 weeks pregnant) b/c I felt like crap and didn’t pick it back up.

    So now I have to wait till baby arrives to pick back up my running routine.

    I would love to be at the place where I’m signing up for multiple marathons in a year! Not sure how closely scheduled they’ll be but I’ll worry about that when I get there =)
    Vanessa (@IsleStyleLiving) recently posted..Drastic Times Call For Drastic MeasuresMy Profile

  7. Thanks so much for the shout out. :) I love being in the same post as Meb too, especially since I am running on his team for NYC. I just wrote a post about my training today. :)

    Everyone’s body is different and I love what we can learn from each other as runners, moms and friends. THANK YOU for all that I have learned from you and for all of the support, encouragement and friendship. Hugs!
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  8. I don’t even want to do two marathons in one season much less back to back. Meb is an awesome guy and very down to earth.
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  9. I was considering doing a marathon in Oct then another one in Dec, but didn’t even get the chance to try it due to injury. Hopefully I will be able to run another one sometime, likely if I do, I will just do 1 fall marathon, and that is it for the year. But it seems like a lot of people run marathons quite often, as long as you recover properly it seems fine. And Jim of 50after40 just did 2 marathons on back to back days!
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  10. I’ve only once done back-to-back marathons like that – Steamtown in October and then Philly in November – but I’ve done several back-to-back adventure races (generally with 12-13 days in between, sometimes as few as 7 and once with about 15 hours in between). I find that with adventure racing specifically, the races are such good training sessions unto themselves that my performance is generally better in the later ones than the early ones – to a point. And once I reach that point, it gets ugly fast!
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  11. I did this a lot last year and I’m a big fan, because it means you can skip a lot of long training runs! But it also means little improvement.
    Gracie (complicated day) recently posted..Gulf Coast Half Marathon race reviewMy Profile

  12. I’m planning on running two marathons next year (Grandma’s and Twin Cities) so I hope that I will recover sufficiently from Grandma’s (which will be my first marathon ever) to run Twin Cities well.
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  13. I still can’t picture running one!
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  14. Love this post! And love the way your comments show up and include what the person commenting recently posted. I know that this multiple marathoning is true for Dorothy Beal from Mile Posts. I ran Newport in June in 3:30 and then went for another on in July to try out a progressive marathon and ran a 3:24. not sure how my body would have reacted if I ran the second one harder but I think I would have been okay. Perhaps the people who find it easier and who are able to run back to back to back really are not running them to their full potential. I mean, they are probably running them hard and feel tired but maybe their ability to run so many in such a short time in a decent time means that they probably have some pretty amazing untapped potential that is just waiting to be tapped. Or maybe not. ha ! Maybe they were just made to be able to do that. :)

  15. I’m with you on not running marathons close together. I need a good 10-12 months or more. I think it really does depend on the individual, notably what their goals are, for example, racing versus just completing (I can’t help but go all in), and how much recovery you can get in. Meb has the advantage over the age grouper that running and-recovery-are in his job desc.

    There’s my blend of (mostly unsolicited) fact and opinion!

  16. I agree with you: totally individual call. There are just so many variables at play, physical, mental, conditions, training, everything.
    I highly doubt I’d be any good at more than one marathon at a time, but never say never right?
    Teamarcia recently posted..Baby It’s Cold Out There: GiveawayMy Profile

  17. Back in 2006 I did seven marathons and three half marathons in five months. But I am a conservative runner.
    Jamoosh recently posted..SplendiferousMy Profile

  18. I’ve done two in a year (spring/fall) but there’s no way I could do two in two months.

    Like Meb, my friend Molly is running New York (her marathon debut) and the Trials. I know she’s going to kill it, both its!
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  19. 2 marathons? No thanks! I am doing 2 halves 2 weeks apart… but I figure that’s nothing if I build up to a 15-mile run.

    I do have a friend who ran the Lincoln Marathon on her way to training for the Leadville Silver Rush, and then two months later or so later did the Bohemian Alps 50K. She is one of the most mentally tough chicks I know. I do NOT have the patience (or stamina, or strength) to do anything that challenging!
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  20. I guess it depends on the person, but I couldn’t do it. Not with my hamstrings : )
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  21. To me it seems like a lot of elite marathoners are too fragile – our top ultrarunners run way more than 2 ultras a year and they are 50 or 100 miles!
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  22. Probably not for me but it wouldn’t be for a lack of trying. I know the energy it takes to get your marathon training in and the sapping of a 20 miler then doing it again right away.

    That being said if you did a marathon and then ran another 1 month later it could probably work because you would recover/taper and then run again similar to running 20 milers within a few weeks of each other.
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  23. I’ve done that many times and even with ultras. But I never raced any of the runs and just ran to finish them. I’ve done 3 marathons in two days a few times. We have one weekend every year where I can do that. I’ve done that challenge 7 times. I’ve also ran a 50km and 56km in one weekend a few times. Again all with no time goals. The main thing is to get a feel for your body and what it can do.
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  24. Gosh! Wish I could do back to back marathons. 2 per year is my max. The training takes it all out of me.
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  25. I know I couldn’t push my body to those extremes – but my body falls apart when I start pushing too hard. So it is a matter of knowing yourself and being able to read your body.
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  26. I have done closely spaced marathons in early 2000s but another almost decade has passed since I was up to doing that or at least up to accepting the potential for that kind of risk? wear and tear? What ever it is (common sense? a bigger desire to run for a life time and not a race time!) I have gotten over that need. Although I have run trail 50ks close together but they are a completely different animal!
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  27. That is way off my radar :) …if I can do another in a year or two I’ll be thrilled!
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  28. I am a terrible blogger – just saw your comment on my post last week. I’m glad I popped over here to see your blog!

    This is actually a point of contention for my fiance and I. He swears that stacking marathons is the way to go (he once did three in five weeks) because ideally you’d be peaking at the right time, so you could just keep doing marathons at your best shape. He also wants to do other crazy things like a 100 miler, so who knows.

    Personally, I’m with you on the two would be suicide front. I ran the Akron Marathon and then the Hershey Half three weeks later. I finished Akron in 4:11 and pulled out a 1:57 in Hershey, but it was really painful. I definitely need a grace period to recover from distance. Which, of course, is why I’m doing another half in two weeks.


    PS – I’m in the Akron/Canton area. :) Come back to your NE Ohio roots and run a race out here sometime!
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  29. Yeah, I felt like it took me 2 years to recover from my marathons. And I’ve done some close to each other, my expectations were just much lower. But people like wardian and RunningBrooke, I think they have very good biomechanics and are able to kick butt. :)
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  30. No back to back marathons for me!

    Yeah, right , I’ll sign up for the Bay swim. No problem for me whatsoever.

  31. You’re so right, everybody and every BODY is different. Not too long ago, I couldn’t imagine running ONE marathon, and now I have 6 marathons (or further) lined up over the next 5 months. Extreme? Maybe. I hope to stay healthy. However, unlike Meb, I am only racing two of those! The more I get into ultra running, the more I realize that my body tolerates higher mileage quite well, as long as I keep it slow and steady! But I’ll be ready for a break come April! :0)
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  32. I am with you: “totally individual thing”. For me it is also impossible to race every week, I would risk an injury.
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  33. i absolutely agree with you, i think its an individual thing. i just completed two marathons in 2 weeks, and… despite adequate training, i did OK in both. not my best (not a PR in either) but not my worst. i wasnt able to train all out to do my very best in either race, so i enjoyed just being able to get out there and do it.

  34. Right on. The important thing is knowing and learning what your body can handle. I’ve been googling a lot this week on when to run a marathon after a marathon and there are so many conflicting things out there. It comes down to knowing what I can handle and perhaps testing myself like never before.
    David H. recently posted..Welcome to the gun showMy Profile

  35. Well… I only run a marathon every 2 years, so it’s definitely not for me. My first 2 years, though, I did both MCM and Disney, so that was 2 in about 3 months. It was a lot, but doable. My hubby did 4 marathons in 3 months back in 2006-2007, but he’s nuts :) I totally agree with you that it’s a personal thing, although I do think that the more races you do, the more you’re likely to get hurt.
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  36. You know me, I do multiple marathons all year long. I am doing my 3rd marathon of October this weekend. I think it depends on how you train your body. The human body is an amazing machine and can adapt (sometimes) when pushed. But be sure that you cannot do this overnight. It takes years of building up and learning how to recover and begine running again soon after a marathon. It is definitely not for everyone and I am sure for some, their bodies just won’t allow it.
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