What It’s Really Like to Train for Two Marathons in One Season

Have I mentioned I’m running a marathon Sunday? Because I’m running a marathon Sunday.

As in…three weeks after the last time I ran a marathon. After being injured for a good portion of the summer.


I took off most of July from running on the advice of my physical therapist and running coach. Some people have questioned why I pay a coach when I can download a plan off the Internet or devise one myself. I’ve had amazing results since I started working with Jess, but having someone to help me make smart decisions coming back from injury was completely invaluable. I trust Jess implicitly, and I knew that between her and my PT, I’d be able to get through this experience as safely as possible.

That said…

The Good 

  • I managed to go from cleared to run a 5K August 1 to running a marathon on October 11. Though I always wondered how quickly I could get marathon-ready, I was never ready to test it with anything shorter than a traditional 16-week program.
  • I ran two half-marathons and did a triathlon in those 10-ish weeks, with the tri just five weeks after I was cleared to run again.
  • I ran that marathon faster than my first two!!!
  • Just one week after Chicago, I ran 15 miles. That is INSANE to me. (Granted, I took it easy for me, but still, I ran 26.2) The year the NYCM was canceled, I struggled to get through 8 miles a week later.
  • Though I had some pretty intense calf pain the week after Chicago, I really haven’t felt much rougher for the wear.
  • I’m proud of myself for even attempting this. I know I can do it, which is a big change from three years ago, when I was TERRIFIED to try for two in one year and dropped down before even getting to the halfway point in Rehoboth. (But if I have to be fair, I think I knew I was going to do that.)

What I Didn’t Expect

  • Confusion: am I tapering? am I recovering? What am I actually doing? Am I coming or going?
  • ^^ How do I eat for this?
  • Two marathons with only two weekends in between equals awhole lot of not running/exercising. Since the week of Oct. 5, here’s roughly what my weeks of training have looked like:
    • Oct. 5: taper – 2-3 short runs
    • Oct. 12: recover – 1 run during the week, 1-2 classes, 1 weekend long run
    • Oct. 19: OOH a semi normal week of running! ~3 runs during the week, weekend long run
    • Oct. 26: taper again! 2 short runs during the week, THREE REST days, a shakeout on Saturday morning
  • I didn’t expect that the above schedule would drive me a little nuts. I’ve had one week of normal-intensity workouts, and I am craving that normalcy.

If you’ve ever run back-to-back marathons, what have you learned (especially that surprised you?)

9 comments on “What It’s Really Like to Train for Two Marathons in One Season

  1. DCRunner

    I did this a few years ago with MCM and Philly. I broke 4 hrs (have only done that 2x in 29 marathons!) and felt great. You get all the kinks out in the first race and the 2nd one is much easier! Good luck!

  2. Nikki @ will run for pizza

    I learned that I CAN do it. Simple as that. After the first marathon, I had some knee pain about 3 days later when I tried to run. So I ended up MAYBE doing 2 runs during the 4 weeks in between, but I was still able to PR in the 2nd marathon AND have ZERO knee pain during OR after.
    And some of the mistakes I made in the first one, I was able to try something different in the 2nd one, so that was nice that they were close together so that it was all still fresh in my brain.
    You’re gonna do great! Stay strong and positive and most of all, HAVE FUN!

  3. YVRunner

    My husband and I ran two marathons a month apart in 2013, Vancouver the first weekend of May, and Calgary the first weekend of June. Totally agree re: the weeks between being super confusing- I think we did one 13 miler, a handfull of 3-8 milers and a bunch of yoga between.

    I had a bad mental race in Vancouver, which was disappointing after a strong training cycle, and was happy to have a second chance at a PR (which I did! woo!). Husband had some issues with the altitude change (we live and train at sea level, and Calgary is in the foothills), but was still able to finish the race in good spirits.

    For what it’s worth, I really liked getting two medals out of one training cycle. It made committing to a long training cycle feel a bit more “worth it”

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      I have a post going up today about how I don’t really ever want to do two in one cycle again (because I felt robbed of my endorphin rush after the second!), but agreed that two medals out of one training cycle is pretty awesome. I was talking with my PT yesterday and if I had to choose between training for a spring and a fall or two fall marathons, I’d definitely go for the latter.

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