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Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:35 pm
by pdotteson
Howdy -

First time posting.. long time follower of this forum.  Thanks for all that you do.  :)

Wondering how possible it would be to race a 20 miler followed by a marathon with only two weeks rest in between.  I'd prefer to have 4-5 weeks to recover for a double, but due to a couple of wedding conflicts my only other chance to race is two weeks after or not at all.  After that I won't be able to focus on running til fall.

Not sure if it matters, but I'm shootin for sub 1:56 on the 20 and would hope for sub 2:40 on the full.  Mileage is in the 70-80 range.  If it were two fulls, I wouldn't even consider it.. but 20 to 26.2 seems doable.  Thoughts?


Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:14 am
by ultraman
My first time on the forum too and have adopted the same strategy but with a 30 miler 4 weeks out and ran a pb of 2hrs30, given a few years ago.Now about 7 years on i ran a marathon on the 10thFeb in 3hr02 and 24thFeb in 3hrs05 and have been severely criticised and warned about muscle damage and injury on the way.I have never felt stronger but the key was prior to that i ran 6 weeks of 93mile weeks with no speedwork and long progression runs of 15 to18 miles with the last few miles at 4min per km.In the past i have done numerous interval work and although i ran a faster marathon did not have the strength that i have now even though i am a few years older,i just find that intervals can bring on injury quickly.I also found that even after my marathon i was able to ran a fast 5km 6 days later.I am a strong believer in that we are what we repeatedly do and that miles make champions.

Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:19 am
by Wellpark
Hey Pdotteson,

As Ultraman suggests, its all about strength and aerobic power and your own ability to recover. I know many guys that  knock out 20 - 30 mile runs every weekend and race Ultra's (30-100m races) weeks apart and do relatively well but they know there is a cost. As with anyone who is racing regularly, they need to adapt their expectations and focus on the 'key race'.

I appreciate that you are asking about racing a 2:40 marathon with a sub 2 hour 20 mile run two weeks before, which is a bit trickier ;-) If you are a 2:30 marathon guy who can knock out 2:10 20 mile runs in training without too much bother, you should be ok.

Which race is more important for you to hit your target?, what is your running background 70-80 miles/week is solid, but how long have you been running at this level, what paces are you currently training at and how are you recovering from them?

If your target times are realistic then I would suggest you consider your recovery process between races as critical to your success. As early as possible following the 20 mile race, (possibly even during) start focusing on getting into optimum shape for the marathon. Nutrition, rest, rehydration, ice, physio, recovery runs, metnal preperation are all important.

Just like every training run, every race has a purpose - you will need to be disciplined re achieving your goals, particularly for the first race, stick to your plan, don't push the envelope or dig too deep, even if you feel good. If you do push it in the first race, accept that this will affect your marathon performance and don't beat yourself up about it.

All the best


Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:38 am
by pdotteson
Thanks for the feedback ultraman & Wellpark. 

It makes a lot of sense to pick a priority race, and for me it would be the 20 (hometown race which is usually won around 1:56).  So I suppose, it comes down to what I can manage in the 26.2 without the usual recovery..

I wish I could say that I maintain 70-80 year round, but with my job and family I can only dedicate 5-6 months to serious training.. the rest of the year is just 30-40.  With only one serious training plan per year, it always feels like such a shame to only race one 20/26.2 - figured it would be worth a shot, unfortunately this year it has to be 2 weeks apart.

Interested to know if a 20 mile race doesn't cross the same "line" or wall in terms of the physical stress of racing 26.2.  Know what I mean?  If it doesn't, I suppose I would attack the second race (26.2) with the same confidence as the first.  However, seeing that this is the first time I'll be trying a double so close together, I'll take your advice and not overdo it - nor be disappointed if it doesn't go as well as planned.  Always fun to test our limits I suppose.

Thanks again for the help


Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:06 am
by ultraman
There is a term used a lot amongst elites and thats racing yourself into shape.
It is well known that Kenyans run about 3-4weeks out 20-25milers at marathon pace at altitude simulating what they would do
their marathon at.If the consistency/training is there you might be suprised how quickly you recover from "racing" a 20 miler.
Trial and error is what i use a lot but sometimes more error than trial but then again thats what makes it fun :)

Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:53 am
by Wellpark
The combo is the right way round for you to be able to recover more quickly for the marathon. If the 20 miler is your Key race, go for it and don't concern yourself re the marathon until after the race. If all is well, focus on a recovery cycle of training, continue to 'sharpen' - you will hold a lot of your fitness and may even run quicker for the 26.2 than you expect.

We will be interested to know how you get on, so please post your results back here. We may be able to help and encourage you in between races to stay in good condition for your second effort.

I am not a big fan of long tapers for races but this depends again on the consistency of your training as you approach the key race. Again it is an individual thing, we could probably tell you what works for us and give you anecdotal stories about what worked well for others, however only you can say what works for you. All part of the journey.......

What would work for me:

Lead up to race:

Short taper of 10 days max for the 20 with Tinman style training at least six months before the Key race.

During the race: In these circumstances, one of my drinks would be a recovery shake (some protein with water not milk). Anectdotal but has worked well for myself and other Ultra guys re starting the repair process early but I would not reccommend this to you unless you have time to try this out in training and condition yourself to be able to do this, you need to train yourself nutritionally also. So make sure that race nutrition is taken care of.

Immediatley After: Recovery drink/Nutrition essential, ice, compression and light massage to flush the legs, continue with this focus until the next race.

3-4 Days after the race: 4-6 mile Very Easy recovery runs with Easy striders until the legs start to respond and regain their bounce don't set yourself a number of days go by feel and listen to your body.

4-10 Days Before the race: a mix of low volume MP/Tinman Easy TEMPO/CV runs prob not more than one of each and not for more than 8 miles total run in a day to keep you connected to your fitness and leg speed.

6 Days out: One run of 12 miles with 2-4 miles at marathon pace the rest of the run Very Easy.

2-3 Days Out: 4 Mile Easy runs with 4-5 sets of striders of approx. 200m. You should be feeling bouncy and wired to race.

1 Day out: I like to run just 2 miles with some race pace running and striders, something that Tinman has had me do for Key races and I always feel fired up and ready to go if I am good shape.

We wish you well.


Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:21 pm
by pdotteson
Just wanted to give an update on training for this "double" experiment:

I've managed to stay injury free, with only minor issues/sickness.  Keeping mileage in the 70-80 range with some solid LRs (18, 20, 22, 18, 20, and a planned final 22 this wknd)  Tempos have been really encouraging with a recent 8@20MP at 5:48, and 10@20MP at 5:43, with a 10 planned this week and a final 12 (peak workout) planned 10 days out.  10k and HMP intervals have been faster than or consistent with my goal pace while staying controlled..  Here's hoping that everything comes together. 

Thank you Wellpark, for the detailed example of the recovery/buildup toward the marathon.  I am feeling confident now that I can make this happen.  Interestingly enough, there was an article in this months Running Times about serial racing.. (or doubling).  Again, more fuel for the fire. 

Thanks for the support,


Re: Racing 20 to 26.2 back to back

Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:38 pm
by Tinman
pdot -

If you have a strong mileage background, it's possible to race well with two weeks between your 20-mile race and marathon race. I suggest you run the 20-mile race at 95% effort, and that will help you recover for the marathon race.