Since we’re getting into the spring racing season I thought sharing this post again would be helpful. Racing frequently can take a toll on your body and if you’re looking to run races close together it’s important to know what to do in between. Here’s my experience racing two half marathons (both all out and going for a PR) two weeks apart.
Moments after I registered for the All Women and One Lucky Guy Half Marathon I googled “running two half marathons two weeks apart” and found very little help in the results that surfaced. Most of the advice talked about running the first half marathon slow and then really “racing” the second half marathon two weeks later or the scenario talked about three weeks between half marathons instead of two. My circumstance was a little different: days before registering for my second half marathon I had raced (and raced hard…or bonked hard, I should say) the CHaD Half Marathon on October 20th. I had not planned to run another race after CHaD, but here I was wanting another chance. So I signed up for the All Women and One Lucky Guy Half Marathon in Newburyport, MA on November 3rd. My goal was to race that 13.1 just as hard as I’d raced CHaD, only smarter [I succeeded in running a smarter race, you can read about that HERE.]
I read a few articles and developed a plan loosely based on one particular article you can read HERE. The plan was specific to running two half marathons, three weeks apart, but I was able to adapt it to what I thought I needed. More important than the running plan however was my recovery plan. A the end of the CHaD Half I felt wasted. I had completely and totally spent everything I had finishing that race. And my quads were sore, ridiculously sore. My husband (a plumber by day, but in his past life was a personal trainer and still has his CPT, CSCS certification…those letters means he knows his stuff) attributed the soreness to my fueling issues the night before the race. I just didn’t eat enough and I paid for it on race day and for four days after the race: I was seriously sore and constantly hungry. Here is what my two weeks looked like:
Recovery: A general rule of thumb is that you need one day of recovery for every mile you have run. So I was banking on the fact that my legs wouldn’t feel recovered until the Saturday November 2nd, the day before my second half marathon. This mentality allowed me to really let myself rest and not push on my runs. It can be tempting to want to prove that you can still run fast right after you have raced, especially when your legs are tired and the paces that you’re running feel ridiculously slow. Allow your body to recovery. Every run should be easy. Let your body dictate the pace and don’t force yourself into running pick-ups or strides if your body isn’t ready. Don’t over-do the cross-training either. The first week I rode the bike and ran back to back, I wouldn’t do that again. Walking is enough of active recovery I didn’t need to ride the bike, if anything it just prolonged recovery.
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Nutrition: For most of the week I focused refueling with carbohydrates and proteins. After each run I drank a protein shake. I wanted to supply my body with a little extra protein to help repair some of the damage from the race. Normally I have a single egg on peanut butter toast after most of my morning runs, but a scoop of protein powder in a smoothie provided three times as much protein as my normal post run meal. I tried to make sure my carbohydrates were a complex and beneficial. I also upped my vitamin C intake in the form of red peppers and kale to help give my immune system a boost. During the second week I made sure to snack on carbohydrates and ate a good solid meal the night before the race.
Running: I decided to run two, 20-25 minute runs the first week of recovery and two 30-35 minute runs the second week of recovery. I didn’t want to over do it, but I also didn’t want to do nothing. There was definitely some doubt that settled in during those two weeks. Considering that I had just come off a taper, I hadn’t really run very hard in almost three weeks. Four runs didn’t “feel like” it would be enough. But it was. It was the perfect balance of shaking out my legs from the CHaD Half and keeping them fresh and ready for the all Women Half.
Sunday: CHaD Half Marathon 1:41:26
- Monday: Compete Rest. Foam Rolling. Wore compression pants all day.
- Tuesday: Complete Rest. Foam Rolling.
- Wednesday: Complete Rest. [Monday thru Wednesday my quads were still ridiculously sore. Going down stairs was amusing.]
- Thursday: Long Walk.
- Friday: Easy run. 2.06 miles in 18:29 (8:57 pace) This run felt a tough. My legs felt tired and sluggish. Foam Roll.
- Saturday: Active Rest. Rode recumbent bike and did core and upper body workout.
- Sunday: Easy run. 3.01 miles in 27:03 (9:00 pace) Legs still feel tired. Foam Roll.
- I also saw my massage therapist on Tuesday and my Chiropractor on Thursday.
- Monday: Yoga DVD. Foam Rolling.
- Tuesday: Easy Run. 3.69 miles in 31:21 (8:29 pace) Felt a bit more recovered, still a little sluggish.
- Wednesday: Complete Rest. Foam Rolling.
- Thursday: Easy Run. 4.01 miles in 33:41 (8:23 pace) and 6 strides Legs felt fresh and fully recovered.
- Friday: Complete Rest
- Saturday: Easy Run. 2.5 miles in ~19 minutes Felt good, wanted to keep running but cut it off at 2.5
Sunday: All Women and One Lucky Guy Half Marathon 1:39:56
I think part of the reason I was successfully able to PR a second marathon in two weeks was due to the fact that I followed a pretty strict recovery plan and didn’t over-do it. I also think I had a much better mentality going into my second race, my goals weren’t outcome-based, I was racing in the moment. I think also that seeing my massage therapist and chiropractor was helpful and facilitated a quicker recovery.
What is interesting to me is that I’ve felt remarkably different after the half marathon last Sunday compared with how I felt after CHaD. I’ve run three times since then and I have had no where near the soreness or fatigue that I felt after the CHaD Half Marathon. I think that has everything to do with nutrition leading unto, during and immediately after the race. I got it right the second time.
Right now I’m taking each run easy. Just letting my body recover. In fact the entire month of November and into December will be nothing but easy runs: no speed work, no tempos. I’ve raced pretty hard all summer and it’s time for a little break:)
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Have you ever raced two marathons close together?
Sarah is a certified running coach with the RRCA and USATF. She and her husband Mark Canney, CPT CSCS collaborate in coaching clients of all ages and abilities to help them reach their running goals. You can learn more about their coaching services HERE.
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