QUESTION: I just completed my third marathon this May: Flying Pig in Cincinnati. I am planning on doing my next one in October. I haven't chosen which one yet, but I probably will run a race in the middle of October. So my question is, when should I start training again, and how should I prepare? Do I just start the training program over again? What are your recommendations for doing more than one marathon a year?
HAL’S ANSWER: It's fairly common for runners to do a spring and a fall marathon. The way to approach it depends a little bit on your running goals, but in general you want to take a few weeks to recover from your first marathon in a sort of reverse taper where you start to rebuild your weekly mileage to the point where you can segue back into proper training. (I offer Post Marathon Training Programs, both free on halhigdon.com and in an interactive version through TrainingPeaks to assist runners in making the transition.) That done, you can either dive back into an 18-week marathon build-up, or perhaps take a couple of months to work on speed that often goes neglected by those of us focused on 13 and 26 mile races. If you have time, fit in some 5-K and 10-K races with or without special programs leading up to them. A graph of your training, thus, might resemble a roller coaster with peaks and valleys as you relax between successive training programs.
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. Archived Q&A's from Hal can be found here.