Thursday, February 25, 2016

Back To Back Races: The Good, The Bad, The Crazy

6 Days Apart: Space Coast Marathon & MOAT Off-Road Half Marathon
Last Sunday, I ran a marathon and this Saturday, I will run a half marathon.  I have done this a couple of times in my running "career" and each time I do it, I am reminded why I don't do it very often, lol.  Now, I am by no means an elite runner, but I am definitely out there pushing it each time I race.  And by the time it's all said and done, man oh man do I feel it!  But with that being said, there is also something fun and exciting about multiple distance races in a short period of time.  In fact, there are even groups specifically for runners who enjoy filling up their weekends with half and full marathons.  Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs are two groups I am aware of and I am sure there are others.  Since I know I am not the only crazy runner out there, I thought I would share, in my opinion, the pros and cons of running back to back races as well as some tips to survive both (or several) race weekends.

No Taper Madness
With such a quick turn around from one race to the next, one does not have much time to focus on a proper taper.  We all know how crazy tapering can be for a distance runner, so in a way, it may be kind of nice not to go through the 2-3 weeks of "taper madness."  The decrease in mileage and intensity, however, certainly helps prepare our bodies for the big event.  O the plus side is our mind is already in race mode, hopefully our legs follow suit!  My advice when there is no time to properly taper, do the best you can to rest up and scale back that week or two between events.  Kind of like an abbreviated version of a taper, better than nothing!  Also, be sure to listen to your body.  If your legs, head or heart aren't feeling it, a day or two off before your next event would probably do you more good than harm.

Goals (aka PR's)?
I talk A LOT about setting goals in my blogging, but sometimes I suggest throwing them out the window.  This is one of those times.  Back to back races can not just take a toll on you physically, but it can burn you out mentally as well.  Since we are not professional runners here, it's important we remember why we do these events.  The answer is typically because their fun and it's our passion.  Of course it is nice to PR and don't sell yourself short if it feels like a good possibility out on the course.  But after you just ran a half or full distance and are about to run another, you have no idea how your body (and psyche) will react to another weekend of high mileage in a high energy (and competitive) atmosphere.  So my suggestion would be to just go out and have fun, see what you can do, make some friends out there and enjoy the journey!  The is, after all, why most of us run anyway.

Bring on the Bling
If you're like me and most of the other runners out there who do this for fun, we also do it for the bling.  Let's face it, we like big shiny rewards for our efforts, hehe!  An obvious plus to doing multiple races is receiving multiple medals.  So you may acquire some blisters, exhaustion and soreness along the way, you will certainly have some pretty new medals to show for your hard work and badassery!

Eat All the Food
Again, I make mention of proper nutrition and moderation in my blog, but another fun thing about multiple races are the post races goodies.  Of course I do not suggest a week or two of a pure pizza and beer diet (I would be in heaven if I could do that), but enjoying some good eats not only serves as a reward but also helps to replenish all those calories burned out on the course(s).  My advice is to have a cheat day after each race where you can enjoy some of your favorite indulgences.  Do try your best to keep portions in check during these cheat days and once they are over, do your best to get back on track with your healthy nutrition.  Also, don't forget to stay hydrated with beer, I mean water and electrolyte drinks!

Find Out What You're Made Of
You never know your limits until you push yourself to them, and running long distances back to back will certainly push you to the limit!  Like I said above, there is definitely something exciting about multiple high mileage weekends.  Running a half or full is a big deal in itself, so to do more than one in a matter of days is a big freaking deal!  It takes guts, grit and maybe a little insanity.  But you will feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment when it's all said and done.  You will learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of.  And if you happen to do exceptionally well at one or both races, well then all the more reason to be even more proud!

Learn From Your Experiences
Every experience in life is an opportunity to learn and running is no exception.  The more races you run, the more opportunities you have to gain knowledge, confidence and experience that can help to better prepare you for each subsequent event.  You learn more and more about what works for you for everything from training to nutrition and hydration to recovery to even your mental game, and everything in between.  Back to back races, though taxing physically and mentally, give you real time race experiences and of course opportunities to learn and grow as a runner.

Have Fun!
I know I sound like a broken record pointing out the obvious that we are not elite athletes here.  We are weekend warriors doing this for fun, fitness and friends.  Of course we would be lying if we said we don't like to push ourselves, we are crazy distance runners after all.  But all in all, we are doing this for ourselves and nothing more.  So keep that in mind.  Be proud of how hard you are working.  Feel special that you are doing something challenging, unconventional and only for the crazy brave.  But most importantly, enjoy it all.  We are so lucky for the gift our bodies give to us, so don't take it for granted, soak it all in and have some dadgum fun!

Rest and Recovery
Last but certainly not least, once it is all said and done...GET SOME REST!  Holy Guacamole you deserve it!  Sleep, eat, drink water, foal roll, ice bath, massage, yoga, lay in bed.  Whatever it takes and whatever you can make time for, do it.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.

If you need more tips on training and recovery, contact Coach Christina today.  Be sure to follow her running and fitness journey on her INSTAGRAM page.  Happy running everyone!


  1. I ran the glass slipper challenge last weekend and this weekend am running rock n roll NOLA half. I'm slighty gimpy/my IT band is bugging me, but I have no time goals for this race, just want to have fun!

    1. Wow, you are amazing! I hope your IT band gets to feeling better and you have a great experience at NOLA regardless!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.