Rebound Race

A buddy, fresh off completing his first marathon, emailed me yesterday to ask my opinion on whether it would be too soon to run another at next month’s Grandma’s Marathon.

A handful of people I know are now looking at running Grandma’s after completing the Fargo Marathon. And since Grandma’s hasn’t reached its limit of runners and registration closing June 1, it’s time for anyone on the fence to make a decision.

In short, I don’t think a month between marathons is too short. In many ways, I think it’s ideal: The hard work has been done, given a runner trained well for the Fargo Marathon, because no more long runs are needed. The important thing is recovering from the first marathon and maintaining one’s fitness base.

So I went back into my vault of worthwhile articles I’ve kept over the past 3 years and found one published in the November 2008 edition of Runner’s World magazine. Before discarding the magazine, I cut out an article titled “Second chances,” which included a training schedule for runners looking to run another marathon 4, 6 or 8 weeks after completing the first.

Here’s what it suggests for a 4-week separation between marathons:

Week 1 – rest and run easy, with a long run of 8 miles

Week 2 – complete 3 midweek runs (up to 8 miles each), long run of 12 miles. One of the midweek runs can be a 6-mile run, with 4 at marathon pace.

Week 3 – the same as week 2 with the exception of the long run, which should be 8 miles (this would be completed the weekend before marathon No. 2.

Week 4 – this is marathon week, so run two 4-mile runs, two 2-mile runs and rest on the other days.

Most experts say if you raced hard in your first marathon, then runners should wait at least 6 to 8 weeks before trying again. However, if runners didn’t put in a full effort, then 4 weeks is OK.

But I also think there’s a couple of other exceptions:

  • Veteran marathoners who have a lot of miles on the legs can train less between marathons, especially if they were in good shape heading into the first race, or first-timers who handled high mileage without injuries or any significant problems.
  • And it’s also OK for those who want to go out and run a marathon for the pure joy of running one – perhaps to celebrate their accomplishment in the first race or simply soak up the atmosphere and tradition of a race like Grandma’s.

Like any key event, it’s a good idea to set realistic goals for your performance. Multiple goals allows us to keep our running in perspective and have fun. So many factors can influence a race and there’s only so many we can control. As we know around these parts, you can’t control the weather so the best we can do is prepare and then go out and execute our plan based on what factors we can control.