Double double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble. No, no, this post isn’t going to get all Shakespearean on you. We’re talking about doubling up, here. And no, we’re not duplicating Coriander’s recent post about incorporating doubles into your training, either. Rather, today, we’ll discuss doing back-to-back half-marathon races.
Specifically, is it possible to race back-to-back half marathons and if so, how should we go about our training and recovery to maximize our performances?
In case you’re wondering, I’m thinking of doing the Capital City Half in Columbus on May 4th and the Cleveland Half on May 19. I’m researching and writing about this for you and me!
I’m particularly worried about the short break between races because of a past experience that didn’t quite go well. Back in Spring 2010, I ran the Boston Marathon at the end of April followed by the Capital City Half Marathon, one week later. I totally, totally DIED in that half. I ran over 30 minutes slower than my slowest half marathon and had to walk/run about the last two miles. My body was NOT having it.
If you’re considering doubling up on longer races this season, you might get my logic. Since I’ll already be “in shape” (at least I hope to be – this wedding stuff sure is cutting into my running time, not that I’m complaining), I figure it’s a good plan to try and squeeze out two top performances. But I’m worried I’m doomed to the same fate I suffered two years ago. But it turns out, I might not be.
A good rule of thumb is that it takes about 1 day for each hard mile raced to fully recover from a race. So we’ll need at least 2 weeks between half marathons. What I suggest, and what I plan to do to race my two half marathons within 15 days of each other is to:
Day 1: run a very short recovery run or take the day completely off.
Days 2 – 7: Gradually rebuild easy mileage, with a shorter speed workout or some strides later in the week and a 10 miler the weekend in between races.
Days 8 – Race # 2: Repeat what your training plan called for the week before Race #1
Besides the running in between races, here are some tips to optimally recover quickly so you can avoid the march of death in the second race!
Hydrate. It’s super important to hydrate after the race, just as important as it is to hydrate during the race, actually. Water is always good, but, personally I like to sip on coconut water, which adds electrolytes.
Stretch. I’m not the best at this, I’ll admit it. But, the older I get, the more I realize how very important a good post-run stretch can be. The more you stretch post-race, the easier it will be to walk the next day, and, therefore, run a few days later.
Eat Something. Within an hour of finishing, consume something with carbs and a little protein. Whether a banana and peanut butter, a bagel and cream cheese or just a sports bar, the sooner you get the nutrients down the sooner your body can replace glycogen and repair your battered muscles. For some reason, I’m a big fan of sushi for a post-race dinner. There’s really no science to it, but the combination of carbs and protein always makes me feel like a million bucks.
Get a massage. I’m a BIG believer on this one, and, no, not just because it feels good. Okay, maybe a little bit because it just feels good. Even if you don’t want to dual out the money for a professional deep-tissue, book yourself an appointment with your foam roller and go to town! This reduces the pains of delayed onset muscle soreness, drawing blood to damaged muscles.
Stay away from alcohol. I know! I’m so sorry, but that post-race beer is a bad idea. You can celebrate after race #2. In the meantime, stick to super hydrators like sports drinks, coconut water or plain old pipe juice (that’s tap water).
I’ll be back in May with my race reports!
Have you ever raced two back-t0-back half marathons? How did it turn out for you? What are your tips for maximizing your performances?