5 Tips for Training Between Your Last & Your Next Half Marathon

© Dreamstime.com

© Dreamstime.com

Plenty of training plans exist for a single race, but how exactly does one train for back-to-back races? It is possible to run races on consecutive days, weekends, or within a month happily and without injury.


With a little advanced planning and preparation, it can an enjoyable way to take advantage of fitness gains in a training cycle. Most runners will not be attempting their best time in this fashion, but it is possible depending on your fitness level.

I tested the waters with racing on consecutive weekends and later, graduated to consecutive days. As a former 1-race-per-year runner, this really was a game changer in both training and racing. I personally only race hard two to three times a year and enjoy many races as supported training runs.

For runners looking to make the leap into consecutive racing, here are a few tips I can offer:

Back-to-Back Runs

Run your long run as normal and follow up the next day with a distance at least half as far as your long run – i.e., run 12 miles on Saturday and 6 miles on Sunday. The idea is to get your legs used to running when they are tired.

Restore Immediately

Most runners cross the finish line and eventually eat and drink as they feel necessary. When running consecutive races, it is important to restore electrolytes and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing. Pack your drop bag with the essentials and make yourself consume them no matter how good you might feel.

R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate)

It’s easy to stand around and chitchat with a bunch of other like-minded runners after the race, but the sooner you can R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress, elevate) your legs, the better. Take 20 to 30 minutes to R.I.C.E. before you ride in the car for an extended period of time and 2 to 3 times more throughout the rest of the day.

Walk

If the race is the following day, walk 10 to 20 minutes in the late afternoon or early evening and stretch gently afterwards. If the race is the following weekend or 2 to 4 weeks out, walk 20-45 minutes after the first race day.

Exercise Caution

Runners are a stubborn lot. Know the difference between sore and pain. One is a minor annoyance, the other can force you to hang up your running shoes for longer period of time if you attempt to do too much.

Every runner is different in their ability and their training, but listed below are a few generalized plans for running half marathons 1 day apart and 1-4 weeks apart.

1 Day Apart

Restore electrolytes and carbohydrates immediately following the race and exercise R.I.C.E as soon as possible, up to 4 times throughout the day. Eat small, carbohydrate heavy meals throughout the day and hydrate often. Walk 10 to 20 minutes in the late afternoon or early evening and get to sleep early.

1 Week Apart

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
20-30 minute walk 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest

2 Weeks Apart

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
20-30 minute walk 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest or cross-train
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
5-8 miles rest or cross-train 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest

3 Weeks Apart

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
20-30 minute walk 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest or cross-train
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
6-10 miles rest or crosstrain 3-6 miles rest or crosstrain 4-7 miles 3-6 miles 2-3 miles or rest
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
5-8 miles rest or cross-train 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest

4 Weeks Apart

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
20-30 minute walk 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest or crosstrain
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
6-10 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles rest or cross-train 4-7 miles 3-6 miles 2-3 miles or rest
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
8-10 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles rest or cross-train 4-7 miles 3-6 miles 2-3 miles or rest
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
5-8 miles rest or cross-train 2-5 miles rest or cross-train 3-6 miles 2-5 miles rest

4 comments… add one
  • Alex M October 4, 2018, 9:53 am

    Thanks for this. Are you recommending these runs at a slow pace, a quicker pace, or race pace? Many thanks

  • Gary Davis November 21, 2016, 11:32 pm

    I am contemplating running the MCM 22 Oct followed by a half on 12 Nov. Is that too soon?

  • Ashley March 23, 2016, 9:54 am

    I am wondering the same as Fredrick… I will soon complete my first half and if all goes well, planning on another in the fall. What should my training plan look like so that I don’t have to start from the beginning again?

  • Frederick January 17, 2016, 7:44 am

    Thanks for the advice and suggestions.

    What do you recommend as a training schedule for someone who has trained up for a half marathon, completed the race, and wants to stay in shape for races a few months away? 20 miles/week with an 8 – 10 mile long run? More? Less?

Leave a Comment

MENU