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. says

    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!
    Sara recently posted..Keeping the Pace: Now What Do You Do?My Profile

  2. says

    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.
    Allison Johnson recently posted..FractionsMy Profile

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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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  5. says

    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!
    Nelly recently posted..Drinking the Newton KoolaidMy Profile

  6. says

    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!
    Abby @ Have Dental Floss, WIll Travel recently posted..USARA National Championships 2011, Part 2: Operation StealthMy Profile

  7. says

    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. :)

  8. says

    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!

  9. says

    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!
    Jen recently posted..Look up there ^My Profile

  10. says

    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.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..70.3 Longhorn (Austin, Texas) GoalsMy Profile

  11. says

    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.
    Johann recently posted..Foto FridayMy Profile

  12. says

    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!
    shelly recently posted..A Copper LiningMy Profile

  13. says

    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!
    Allie @ The Constant Pursuit recently posted..Will run for chocolate (and wine).My Profile

  14. says

    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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  15. says

    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)
    That Pink Girl recently posted..The Day I BQ’dMy Profile

  16. says

    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.

  17. says

    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.
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  18. says

    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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  19. says

    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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