Ask Mario: Can I Push Hard For Two Races In The Same Week?

It's possible to run two longer races in the span of a week, but it's important to gauge your effort and recovery accordingly. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Q.

Mario,

I signed up for a 1/2 marathon on October 5th and the Army Ten Miler October 12th. Was this a good idea? Should I run in between races or just recover? I plan to run an easy pace on the half and push hard on the ATM. Can I push hard for both? And, was this a dumb idea? Thanks.

Jose

A.

Jose,

The short answer is: It’s not a dumb idea! You just need to play your cards right.

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no fitness to be gained (or lost, really) in the week between your races. While you could push hard in both, in general I agree with your plan to run easy for the half marathon and go all-out for the Army 10 Miler. It’s a sound strategy that should put you in a position to get the most out of yourself and achieve the best possible result on October 12.

That said, depending on your racing experience and recoverability, I think there are two ways to approach the half marathon and the days following it:

1. Run the half marathon at your standard easy pace from start to finish. Take the pressure off yourself, stay relaxed throughout and keep the effort conversational. Look at it as an easy Sunday long run surrounded by a bunch of your newest, closest friends. On Monday, run easy or take the day off—whatever is standard practice following your weekend long run—and perform your last significant workout before the Army 10 Miler on Tuesday (E.g. 3 x 1 mile @ 10K race pace with 2 minutes recovery between repetitions). Take it easy on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, throw some short pickups into the middle of a short run (E.g. 6 x 30 seconds at 5K race pace with 90 seconds recovery between reps). Take Saturday off from training or run easy before toeing the line on Sunday for the 10-mile race.

2. Use the half marathon as your last race-specific tuneup for the Army 10 Miler. Do this by running at your standard easy, conversational pace for the first 10 miles of the half marathon and tackle the last 5K NO FASTER than your goal race pace for the Army 10 Miler goal pace. This will leave you slightly more fatigued than if you had run the entire 13.1 miles at an easy pace, but it shouldn’t totally trash your legs either. Recover accordingly for the next three days with some short, easy runs (or a day off if you need it) and tackle a short workout on Thursday (E.g. 5 x 2:00 @ 10K race pace with a 2:00 recovery jog between reps). Take it easy on Friday and Saturday and enjoy a day off from training if you feel like you need the extra rest.

3. If you DO happen to get carried away during the half marathon and run hard from start to finish (hey, it happens to the best of us), dial it WAY back in the days between the two races. Take a day off from training if/when you need it, otherwise run easy and give your legs a chance to bounce back from the long effort. Perform four to six 20-30 second pickups on Friday before the 10 miler to stretch your legs out a bit and get them ready to go again on Sunday.

Hope this helps answer your questions. Have a great race(s)!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.

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