Reader to Reader: Marathon overload?

Running a half-marathon two weeks after your first marathon - laudable or foolhardy? Here's what you thought


Posted: 15 April 2007
by Jane Hoskyn


This week's question comes from a forum member whose event schedule is looking a bit crowded...

"I'm doing the Edinburgh Marathon on 27 May. It's my first marathon, and the training is going OK, though I had two weeks off due to injury. I've got it in my head that I want to do the Southend half-marathon on 10 June – exactly two weeks after Edinburgh. I've been told by my friend's bloke, a seasoned marathon runner, that it's a horrendous idea. Is he right? Given that it's my first marathon, I've no idea how quickly I'll recover."
Soon to be skinny


Your best answers

  • You need more post-marathon recovery
    There's no point. You will get round, but you won't do yourself justice. The rough rule of thumb is that you need one day's recovery (that doesn't mean no running at all, but avoid any major exertion) for each mile of racing. You wouldn't find a pro racing a half marathon two weeks after a marathon – and if they can't recover, nor can the rest of us. – Johnny J
  • The marathon will take it out of you
    You could always enter it now then withdraw on the day if you still feel like s**t. However, you must respect the marathon distance – it is very taxing, and will affect you afterwards more than you think. You will find yourself eating like a pig for a week after. I had two weeks off running afterwards and six weeks off racing. Body and mind were grateful. If you just really want to do a half, leave it another month. If you really want to race in Southend, there is a fast 10K along the seafront in October. – B (Ewok's Mate)
  • BUT... Slow runners can do more frequent marathons
    Faster runners probably take longer to recover than slowies like me, and I suspect your friend's bloke may fall into the fast category. A really hard-run marathon could take a month to recover from. But running 13 miles at a slow pace two weeks after a marathon is doable. – Nessie
  • The half is the perfect cure for post-marathon blues
    Go for it. I've always found it really hard to get myself motivated to go out after a big target race like a marathon, and having another smaller target to keep you going is a great idea. Treat the half as a bit of fun and don't set a real target. Don't push in training at all; the training you've done for the marathon will see you round easily. Pros push themselves far closer to their limits than us mere mortals do, even though it feels as if we're trying just as hard, so of course they need more rest after a marathon. – exiled claret
  • Treat the half as a training run
    Yes, go for the half marathon two weeks after your marathon. Treat it as a steadier training run, and make sure you sleep, eat well and drink sensibly after the marathon. I'll bet you'll be fine. – Eric Green
  • Forget about PBs and just enjoy
    Unless you're at elite level, running should be for fun and health not all about PBs and following the rules. If you want to do it, you will. A couple of easy recovery runs in between and you'll be fine. Because there's pressure you may find you fly round. I have a 43-mile race coming up three weeks after a marathon, so I certainly won't aim for a PB at the marathon &ndash but will I enjoy it? Hell yes. – Loon Dod
  • Manage your recovery right, and you may surprise yourself
    Give it a shot. I PB'd in my last marathon, and three weeks later PB'd in a half. I think it's how you manage your recovery from the marathon that will be critical. Minimise the post-marathon alcohol intake to avoid unnecessary muscle soreness, and do no running for at least 5 days afterwards. Then do some sort easy runs to end the first week, with a couple of longer ones the week after. You won't have lost any fitness in the two weeks after the marathon, so have lots of rest and you'll be fine. – Goldstar
  • Run the half in your marathon T-shirt
    Wear your Edinburgh Marathon 2007 finisher's T-shirt to the start of the half-marathon (or even for the race itself) so that everyone knows the score, and just enjoy the run. – karinsmilesbetter
  • Whether you should do it depends on your approach to events
    You are highly unlikely to PB, or even get near, but you are equally unlikely to die. Your friend's bloke sounds like someone who has to beat a target in every race. That's fine, but it's not the only way to be. – ergo-phobic


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I'm doing the Edinburgh marathon on 27 May. It's my first marathon and the training is going ok despite having had two weeks off due to injury.

Today I've got it in my head that I want to do the Southend half which is on 10 June - exactly two weeks after Edinburgh. I've been told by my friend's bloke - a seasoned marathon runner - that it's a horrendous idea and I should forget about it. Is he right? Given that it's my first mara I've no idea how quickly I'll recover.
Posted: 06/04/2007 at 17:19

I dunno about that
youmay be ok


I did a 10k a week after my first disastrous marathon, and i was ok
Posted: 06/04/2007 at 17:25

As long as you accept the fact that you might feel carp and have to jog slowly or walk the half (or not do it at all), there's no reason why you can't enter it. Like Hipps, I've run halves shortly after marathons and lived to tell the tale, albeit I'm a very slow runner.

Faster runners probably take longer to recover than slowbies like me, and I suspect your friend's bloke may fall into that category. A really hard-run marathon could take a month to recover from to the point where you could race a half, but to be able to run 13 miles at a slower pace 2 weeks after a marathon should be do-able.
Posted: 06/04/2007 at 17:33

There's no point. You will get round but you won't do yourself justice. The rough rule of thumb is that you need one day's recovery (that doesn't mean no running at all but avoid any major exertion) for each mile of racing.

You wouldn't find a pro racing a 1/2m two weeks after a marathon and if they can't recover nor can the rest of us.
JJ
Posted: 06/04/2007 at 18:34

I'd say go for it. I've always found it really hard to get myself motivated to go out after a big target race like a marathon.
Having something to do afterwards may seem a good idea. I've also found that when I have dragged myself out after a long hard race, after the initial soreness has worn off, I've flown round my training routes.

I'd take it as a bit of fun, you don't know what to expect, so don't set a real target to push for. Do some fairly gentle runs in-between, don't push in training at all. The training you've done for the marathon should see you round easily. If you struggle, well, it's still nice to get out and do something, if you feel strong a few miles in, well then push along and see what you can do.

On the point about the pros not racing so close to a marathon, you need to remember that they push themselves far closer to their limits than us mere mortals do (even though it feels as if we're trying just as hard). They are also doing it to compete at the highest level (and earn prize money), you can do it just for fun!
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 08:32

I (slowly) ran my first marathon last October then PB'd at a half marathon a fortnight later, so I'd say go for it :-)
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 10:05

You could always enter it now then withdraw on the day if you still feel like 5h1t.

At best you'd be getting around at a training pace.

However, beware ...

- If the course is the same as 2004, part of it will be downhill along gravel tracks, I think it's at about mile 8. The course isn't traffic free, and it's not the ideal choice for a half 2 weeks after a marathon. There are two great big blooming hills you have to climb at the end as well. Two weeks after a mara, having to go up those would be hell on earth, flipping painful.
- You must respect the marathon distance, it is very taxing, and will affect you afterwards more than you think. You will find yourself eating like a pig for a week after. Anything and everything will be going down your gob.
- A rough rule of thumb I went by is to have 2 weeks off running afterwards and 6 weeks off of racing. Your body and mind will be grateful.

Is there any particular reason you want to do that half? Bear in mind that it doesn't go along the sea-front (nowhere near, in fact!)

If you just really want to do a half, leave it another month. If you really want to race in Southend, there is a fast 10K along teh sea-front in October.

Hope this helps.


BB.
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 12:38

And don't forget, it's very likely that there will be a Southend Half 2008!
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 12:39

Thanks all for the opinions!

B - I'd like to do it partly because I quite like Southend (even if the race doesn't go along the seafront, I can always go there afterwards for the obligatory chips) and partly because I've been unable to do any half maras in the run up to Edinburgh due to being horribly disorganised and they were all full by the time I tried to enter. The next one after Southend I could do would be a local half in August which is 6 laps of Hackney Marsh in August and not sure that sounds too appealing, not least because it will probably be boiling. And then I'm doing Windsor in September.

I actually did the Southend 10k last year and really enjoyed it, despite buggering up my knee at about 8k and having to walk for quite a bit.

Think I might enter anyway and get a number and if I feel like doing it I will (at a very easy pace mind) and if I'm too knackered I'll just stay in bed.

My friend is wanting me to do the London to Brighton bike ride the following week too but I'll have to have a think about that one :)


Posted: 07/04/2007 at 18:52

Not sure I like the sound of those hills though... particularly the downhill.
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 18:54

Yeah, the hills are a bitch, and don't forget it's held at the height of Summer, I was badly de-hydrated for a week afterwards, I lost a considerable amount of weight in water that day.

There's not that much that's downhill on the track, I don't want to scare you! :-)

It's one of those ones where someone has decided to organise a half in a town and then tried to make up a route, rather than someone thinking "wouldn't it be great to have a half marathon run along these roads?"

In short, you could miss it and it's not the end of the world. Unless you're desperate to see a bit of Southend farmland! Hahahaha!

It finoshed on an athletics track, if that floats your boat.
Posted: 07/04/2007 at 21:40

I'm doing a half marathon 3 weeks after London (my 3rd marathon) and that's cutting it fine. I think 2 weeks after and you'll really struggle. You'll either hold back on the marathon to save a bit for the half, or work hard on the marathon and be too trashed to do yourself justice. Surely you can find another half to do, on a nice coastal town if that rocks your boat.

If you must insist on doing it, I agree with what already has been said, you'll have to take it easy on the half and treat it as a training run, else you'll damage yourself. If you're going to do it, how about the first week after the marathon, say Thurs, get a little 4 miler in, then a slow 8 miler on the Sun, just to get your body back into things and to use it as a tester for the following week. A couple of piddly little jogs in the week and then the half on the following Sunday.

Click onto the Hal Higdon marathon recovery plan, this may help you.
Posted: 09/04/2007 at 08:50

soon to be skinny
the hackney marshes half is a great event
you get your own lap counter
Posted: 09/04/2007 at 08:51

if you want to do it, do it.

you are highly unlikely to PB, or even get near but you are equally unlikely to die. it might be a case of getting round, not racing, but that's not the end of the world.

your friend's bloke sounds like someone who has to beat a target in every race. that's fine, but it's not the only way to be.
Posted: 09/04/2007 at 09:29

Running unless Elite level should be for fun and health not all about PBs and following the rules. If you want to do it you will, a couple of easy recovery runs in between and you will be fine and because its so short and no pressure you may find you fly round. I have a 43 mile race coming up 3 weeks after a marathon will I pb the marathon no because I am not tapering for it and their are 4 races in the 5 days leading up to it will I get round the 43 mile race yes because I will have 3 easy weeks after marathon, Will I have enjoyed all the races hell yes.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 08:52

I have pbed running back to back marathons

but im at the VERY slow end of the market
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 08:56

DId Bracknell half 2 weeks after FLM about 3 or 4 years ago, as as supposed 'recovery'
and despite running a (then) pb for the mara, I still managed a pb in the half too!
Sure, my legs were stiff but I ran the half not expecting anything so was probably more relaxed than ever.

Not sure I'd do it again, but if you do, don't set yourself a target for the half.

Posted: 10/04/2007 at 08:58

similar thread from a couple of weeks ago

Opinion very much divided - I'm saying nothing as I fully intend to run a hilly Trail race of approximately half mara distance two weeks after the Windermere marathon at the end of May.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 11:01

I did the Great South Run (10 miles) a week after the Cardiff Marathon last year. From memory I did one recovery run inbetween. GSR was below 10M PB pace but faster than marathon pace (that said, the conditions weren't great - it rained heavily throughout).

Although I got round OK and didn't disgrace myself time-wise I think it was a mistake overall, as I was completely wiped out for weeks afterwards. Even a belated week off running after a few weeks of terrible times in training didn't stop me succumbing to a lurgy.

I'd say that unless you're prepared to do one of the two races really gently (which I wasn't - I'm no good at 'races as training runs') then it could end up being a mistake. That said, I've entered GSR again this year, which is a week after the Abingdon marathon ... but I intend to practice what I preach, and jog around Portsmouth rather than race it.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 11:12

I did the Keswick half-marathon (which is significantly hilly) three weeks after PBing at FLM in 2004, having done rather more training than is usually advised between times, and came very close to beating my PB.

It's only two weeks after FLM this year, and I could be tempted to amble round enjoying the scenery :o)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 11:15

I would go for it. However after you have run the marathon you really won't feel like running for a while - it's a mental thing! If you have a race a couple of weeks after then I think it might even be quite good as long as you don't have any huge expectations about personal bests and treat it as a way of running off the effects of the marathon and setting yourself up to start running regularly again.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 13:51

I would go for it, but maybe not race it hard just run it as a training run?

Are you on the WW boards as well btw? If so I am Dani_The_Girl - you sound familiar!
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 14:45

Always good to have something 'next' already lined up ....if not the temptation is to sit on your backside eating yourself stupid and calling it rest. Before too long your 2 months down the line 1/2 stone heavier and depressed. Run your half no need to do much training and run it the way you feel comfortable with.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 14:46

I'm doing the Stratford half, the week after London and I shouldn't read threads like this one!!! ;) It'll be fine, I'm not going to be beating any records, it's just for fun.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:40

ha ha soph

be careful your legs dont fall off








(see you at stratty)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:42

You might find that you can do OK just two weeks after the marathon (though personally I would recommend either taking on a shorter race, or else giving yourself another week to recover) ... but don't be tempted skimp on your marathon recovery. I'd strongly recommend at least 7 days complete rest after the marathon, a couple of cold baths, and then in the remaining time try one or a maximum of two easy training runs (6-7 miles) just to loosen up and to check that your body is ready for the half marathon. You'll have loads of residual fitness, but you'll also be nursing some damaged muscle tissue and depleted energy reserves.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:46

I'll strap them on if needs be PH.
See you there.
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:49

Make sure you wear a t-shirt with London Marathon 2007 on it so you can at least show everyone how cool you are. Marathon? No sweat. :o)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:52

Andrew
good point

very good point!!!!!
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:54

Soph, you've got me thinking about Stratty after London aswell, you bad girl!

(I've got a mate doing her first full there, so I could cheer her in.)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:56

stop being such a wimp LL and do the full at stratty;)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:57

Hipps, I'm not made of the same robust stuff as you!
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:58

course you are dear
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:58

Who you calling a wimp PH? Some of us have dodgy knees!! :-p
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 15:59

Do it LL, it'll be fun. We can do it in our London Official kit. ;)
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:00

says the woman who is planning a half a week after a marathon

Not surprised you have dodgy knees then

tee hee



I have actually pbed in a half the week after a marathon



Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:01

Am thinking about it! In the process of mailing my mate to find out when she's going up, yes you're right, it would have to be in London kit!
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:02

and done a pw

that was at stratty

oh dear
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:02

I can deal with the PW, so long as the course is entertaining. Are you doing the half in Stratford PH?
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:04

No, I am not doing the half



the course is very entertaining-a local disco and everything
Posted: 10/04/2007 at 16:05

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