I have written many posts (Multiple Marathon: European Edition / Multiple Marathon: Asian edition to name a couple) on how to handle the travel and some of the training related to the running of multiple marathons. There have been several occasions that have had me running multiple marathons in a short amount of time. I enjoy it for the test for my body and to do as much as I can in as short of a time as possible. Plus, there are so many races and so little time! There are some marathons that really interest me but are very close together. So, the only thing to do is to run multiple marathons in a short space of time!
I recently got a couple of questions from readers about running multiple marathons, specifically, should they do it or just keep running single marathons per training cycle. While I am by no means the expert, I thought it would help to break down the pros and cons of each as well as share where I am currently at.
Multiple Marathon Monday: Run Multi or Single?
Running Multiple Marathons
The Marathon Maniacs club is made up of many thousands of runners who have taken the leap from running one or two marathons per year to doing multiple marathons in that time frame and some have even run multiple marathons in consecutive days. There is no question that it is of growing interest to runners to do multiple marathons in a short time frame. The question many marathoners ask, though, is why?
- Not all marathons follow your schedule – by this I mean that there may be certain marathons you want to do but they are within 5 weeks of each other. Or maybe you are in a certain part of the country or world on a business trip and that trip coincides with a marathon on your bucket list (even though you are only 6 weeks from your goal marathon). When these situations arise, what is a marathoner to do but run multiple marathons? 🙂
- Running multiple marathons lends for greater experiences – If you are traveling to run 8 marathons in a calendar year, you are being able to experience 6 or 7 more cities by foot in the time that many marathoners are running 1 or 2.
- Gathering more hardware – I love marathon medals and running multiple marathons in a shorter time gives me the opportunity to rack them up!
- Meeting more marathoners – There is no question that running multiple marathons gives you the opportunity to see the same runners over and over. That can form great bonds of friendship as well as open up carpooling and hotel-sharing opportunities for other races!
- No pressure to go for a particular time – If you are running 3 marathons in 6 weeks, you know that the chances of you PRing in any of those races is not very good so there is no real pressure on you to run for time. Instead, just enjoy the route and the company.
- Get out of a groove – If you have plateaued in your racing performance, it may be just the thing you need to start running multiple marathons for the pure challenge of seeing what you can accomplish under a different level of stress.
- Chances for injury are higher – When you run a marathon, it puts your body and muscle groups under extreme stress. Running multiple marathons in a short span of time can increase your chances for injury.
- Lose your PR chance – If you want to PR in the marathon, running multiple marathons may prevent that from happening in those marathons. That is not to say you cannot PR when running multiples – I had a friend who ran a marathon and bombed in it due to weather, so three weeks later he ran another marathon and PRed at it. If you treat an earlier marathon as a long training run (and take the last 4 or 5 miles slow enough), that may actually be very helpful to you when your goal marathon comes.
- Can be difficult to work into quality training schedules – Many great training schedules have your performing each run for a specific reason. Running a marathon during such a schedule will prevent some of those training runs from fulfilling their purposes.
- May not ever reach your full marathoning potential – if you start out running multiple marathons in a short span of time, you may not ever reach your full potential and best time in the marathon. But, you may be completely satisfied with the results you have in your multiple marathons – it is up to you. One such case is Michael Wardian. He has a marathon PR of 2:17 and has run many back-to-back marathons within a few minutes of his PR. He gets asked all the time if he ever thinks of focusing on a single marathon to drop his PR. He says he enjoys doing what he is doing.
My Current Route
I am an impulsive marathoner. Only once have I planned for a marathon more than 16 weeks out and not let another marathon jump in the middle of it. I love the variety of marathons and I love the flexibility of my body to be able to run a marathon almost whenever I want. While I will continue to do so (in fact, I may have an interesting points/running challenge next year that will involve multiple marathons of the solo kind), I have decided to take a break from multiple marathoning. I really want to know what my full marathon potential is. I know I have sacrificed some of that by running 7 marathons within 13 months after I first started running. So, I am going to take some time with some good coaching and focus on specific races to run the best marathons I can. At least that is the plan now… So what is your marathon plan for the next few months? Multiple marathons or single marathons? These are just some of my thoughts on the subject and would love to know yours.