What’s a triathlete to do when the season is over and the next triathlon is 8 months away? A marathon, duh. Better yet, 2 marathons within 6 weeks of each other. Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?
You may be with the crowd that thinks, "running two marathons within 6 weeks of each other is no big deal" along with Dean Karnazes and a few other ultra runner nuts. Or, you may be on the other side of the fence that thinks, "what idiot runs two marathons within 6 weeks of each other, or even in one year!?". Now we're talkin!
On October 15th, the same yours truly ran the Kansas City Marathon as part of the Man Vs Triathlon project (I know, Triathlon and you are running marathons, but what else are you going to do in Kansas City in October??). My personal recap HERE.
The KC Marathon wasn’t exactly on my calendar, I was barely eyeing the half. But, after having stomach issues for the last couple of 2011 races, I knew I could do better on long distance courses. Plus, I was having withdrawal from competing in races and needed a goal to keep focus on fitness during the offseason. You know.. a carrot.
Here’s my take on how to train and approach multiple marathons within a short time period, and somehow come through on the other side with no major issues.
6) CONSISTENCY IN TRAINING
By no means do I consider myself a super-athlete or more than your average age group endurance junkie. I don’t have stellar VO2 max (that I know of – never tested) and I produce lactic acid like everyone else. I think my best asset is consistency. Right now I don’t have the expendable time to add more training volume, but what time I do train is aimed at a goal. No junk miles. Tempo, sprints, hills, long and slow or whatever the goal, I don’t “run to run” or “bike to bike”. I mean, I like to work out, but when racing, you need a purpose for the workout.
5) DON'T OVERTRAIN
Completing a marathon in decent time doesn't always require the 20, 18, 16 and 15 mile long runs days. Without running more than 16 miles in the previous 6 weeks and only running more than 16 miles twice in the previous year, I was able to churn out a 4:15 and 3:52. My staple was the 12 to 13 miler with a 16 to 18 2 weeks prior to race day and I raced 2 70.3's and a handful of half marathons and olympic triathlons - a good base.
YES, you will suffer the last couple miles without the added distance, but you will also reach race day with far less injuries and better rested. While I’d love to drop major time year to year from races, bettering last year with less training is more than a lot of people can hope for. Last year around mile 23 I had to stretch my hip flexors every mile. I wasn’t cramping, but my strides were not efficient at all. This year, I didn’t have to stop outside of the aid stations or the two pee stops I made. Improvement with less training!
4) INJURY PREVENTION
Am I asking for injuries? Probably. But I had off days often, stretched, weight lifted and use massage to avoid injuries.
3) RACE GAME PLAN
My goal was to negative split the course from the half mark to finish. At the 13.1 mark I hit 1:58 (started slow, didn’t dodge and weave at the start through the crowd, paced myself and took it easy). I finished 3:52. With fancy math, my second half time was 1:54. Negative split, yes. Is 4 minutes impressive? Debatable. It’ll work for now. I wanted to finish and not feel like death for the last 4 miles. I was also attempting to mitigate the “wall” at mile 20. Lucky me I forgot about the 2.5 mile uphill at mile 20 that KILLED me.
Over the course of this season, overcompensation was the name of the game as I was ingesting too much gel, liquid nutrition (other than just water) and energy bites. My staple for training is Push Endurance mixed with GU powder. It works great for long training runs and I don’t use gels for training runs. Only makes sense I should be ok without them on race day. I alternated the my home brew with Gatorade at each aid station and usually walked to entire aid station. The only gel was 45 minutes before the race start and none after that. Gels – you don’t need them with proper liquid nutrition.
When you are single, post race recovery might involve a nap, some alcoholic beverages, stuffing your face with your favorite foods, laying on the couch and channel surfing until you nod off. When you have a family with little kids and a household to stay on top of, recovery includes finishing the floor trim in your garage entry, moving storage stuff to your mom’s basement and yard work while trying to keep the kids alive and happy. Certainly keeps you from getting stiff from sitting on one place for too long! In reality, you need to rehydrate, eat sufficient recovery foods/supplements and rest when you can. Avoid major workouts for the next 3 days post race, depending on your level of fitness.
Was it stupid to run 2 marathons 6 weeks apart? Na. It worked out, but it was a tightrope walk to stay healthy and get the training miles in.
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.