Racing Two Marathons Back-To-Back

Racing Two Marathons Back-To-Back

Have a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I have a dilemma. My running friend and I signed up for the Suffolk Marathon on Long Island. It’s flat, and we planned to do it together. However, she got into the New York City Marathon, and I did not, so I decided to run NYC with her for charity. Do you think it's advisable to run both marathons since they are only seven weeks apart? I guess we could drop down to the half for Suffolk, but we both want to do the full. Are we crazy to do two marathons in such a short period of time?


I suspect you already know my answer—or hope you know my answer, because there is no way I am going to tell you to downsize. My daughter Laura has gotten rejected three consecutive years by NYC, so I know how much gaining entry into that iconic race means to runners. Yet your original focus was Suffolk, so why not continue with those plans. I love it when two (or more) runners decide to do a race together.

Here’s your plan: Pick one to race and the other where you hand-slap the spectators. Every marathon does not need to be run on the edge. Over a long career, I have run many marathons where I coasted home 30 or 60 minutes slower than my best times. When you treat a marathon as a 26.2-mile workout rather than a 26.2-mile race, you can skip the agonies of the taper and carbo-load as well as the stiff legs afterwards.

Let me recommend the Multiple Marathons program on my Web site, which suggests how to train when you have 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks between marathons. TrainingPeaks also has interactive versions for those intervals as well as 3, 5 and 7 weeks between marathons.

My approach would be to run Suffolk for a fast time, then do NYC at less than warp speed. Your choice.

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.