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September 26, 2023

“If you ever see me in a boat again, shoot me.” 

After 6 minutes and 2000 metres of lactic acid inducing agony, it's not surprising that these were the first words Steve Redgrave was able to utter after adding another Olympic rowing gold to his collection. If you're a marathon runner you can relate. Those last few miles can be absolute hell and the whole time all you can think about is how you'll never run another mile again. 

That is until you cross the finish line, catch your breath and look at your time. Regardless of whether you just ran a blistering fast PB or only barely it back in one piece, you're probably going to start planning how you could do it faster next time. 

But just how long should you wait for before running another marathon?

The answer as with all things running depends on you as an individual. If you are just wanting to run as many marathons as possible in a year, you could probably run one every day but don't expect record times. And if you're focus is on speed rather than volume you probably want to wait a bit longer and allow your body to fully recover. 


Less than two weeks   

Unsurprisingly your fitness levels play a huge part in how quickly you recover from both training and racing. If you've been covering 80 plus miles a week, injury free and feeling great then you will most likely be fine to run another marathon within two weeks, no bother. Once you're body becomes accustomed to running big miles, you can run a marathon practically every day if you really wanted to (and had the time). Just look at Ricardo Abad, who ran 607 back to back with no days off. 

Even if you are super fit and adapted to the higher mile runs, you are still unlikely to be setting PBs if you go out and run another marathon so soon after your last one. 

Two to Four Weeks

Sometimes a race just doesn't go to plan. Blisters happen, fuelling can go wrong, the temptation to go out fast can be too strong and sometimes it just isn't your day. Either way if your run was hampered by silly reasons and stupid mistakes and you have enough experience as a runner you can treat the bad race as a long training run and start tapering immedieatly for another marathon after a run like this many of us feel the desire to get back out there and 



However if you've just ran your first ever 26.2, give yourself plenty of time to recover and build up the distance again. For most beginners looking to make improvements I wouldn't recommend considering  a second marathon for at least 12 weeks. 

How did you cope with the first run?

Not all races are equal, nor is the toll that they put on your body and nervous system. 

  • How hard you pushed yourself
  • The terrain and steepness of the course
  • The temperature and humidity 
  • Whether you hit the wall or cramped up
  • How well you cooled down afterwards

All the above can drastically affect your recovery time after the race and leave you unable to train as effectively as you'd want. If though the stars were all aligned and that first run felt light, easy and you didn't push too hard, you'll recover in a fraction of the time and be able to get back out on your feet in no time. 

Strategise Your Timing

If you want to run a second marathon simply for fun–not a PR–schedule it about four weeks after your initial 26.2. This gives you time to recover without losing your endurance, says Jenny Hadfield, coauthor of Marathoning for Mortals. Ditto if a sour stomach or painful blister sabotaged your first effort: Consider your initial attempt a training run, then rest up and toe the line again a month later. If you want to train harder to run as fast as you can in your second marathon, however, give yourself eight to 12 weeks between races (six if you're in great shape).

Resist Shortcuts
Running back-to-back marathons abbreviates the typical schedule–once you've recovered from the first race, it's nearly time to start tapering for the second. "The priority has to be recovery," Pfitzinger says. If you have four weeks between events, recover for two and taper for one. If you have six weeks between starts, recover for two and taper for two. Runners with eight to 12 weeks between events should block out three weeks each for the recovery and taper.

Maintain Intensity
Runners aiming for a time goal in their second attempt should prioritize intensity over distance during the weeks (or days) of training between the recovery and taper. "Your body will forget how to run fast before it forgets how to run long," Allison says. In addition to your weekly long and easy runs, do an interval session (like 400-meter, 800-meter, or mile repeats) to remind your brain what a quick turnover feels like, and an "up-tempo" workout (five to seven miles with 20 minutes spent at 10-K to half-marathon pace) to keep your lactate threshold high. Start your mileage at about 75 percent of the peak volume you reached during your first marathon buildup, and work up to no more than 90 percent before beginning your taper, says Allison. If possible, log at least one 16- to 20-mile run. If you feel tight or fatigued, back off.

Manage Expectations
The less time between races, the lower your expectations should be. If you're gunning for a PR, you need a plan. "You don't have much room to get it wrong pace-wise on race day," says Pfitzinger. If possible, run a test 10-K three weeks out and use your time to determine if you're on track for your goal. One week out, assess how you feel–do you have any niggling injuries or lingering fatigue? Are you feeling energized through the taper? If all is well, devise your race-day plan and stick to it. Once it's over, no matter the results, take a break. You deserve it.

Tips for racing consecutive 13.1-milers

->Double up only if at the peak of training for your first race you ran at least four days a week, logged 25 miles a week, and completed at least one 10- to 12-mile run.

->Schedule your second race three to four weeks after the first event.

->Recover and taper for one week each.

->During your training week(s) do one long run, one to two recovery runs, and one day of short intervals (400- to 1600-meter repeats). If you have three to four weeks between halfs, run one 10- to 12-miler.

RUN BETTER: Generally speaking, the harder you ran in your first marathon, the more time you should allow before running your second event.

25% of Respondents have completed two marathons within 12 WEEKS, according to a runnersworld.com survey.