IS IT POSSIBLE TO DO TWO MARATHONS IN THE SAME RUNNING SEASON?

Preparing one marathon is already a formidable objective! The distance of this legendary race - now very popular - should not be taken lightly. Yet some runners - bulimic for kilometres - wonder if they can run two marathons in a year. Here are some answers to the question.

PREPARING FOR A MARATHON

You will always hear some runner say they prepared for a marathon at the last minute, in 6 weeks, without any real training programme. That's suspicious: they have probably run several thousand kilometres, know themselves inside out, and are perfectly capable of running such a race. Or perhaps they are a novice and don't know the first thing about the distance and what it takes…

Of course, you know that sort of preparation is not recommended. Running a marathon requires a lot of effort and suitable preparation, making a wide-reaching transformation of your body. If you only run once a week on the weekend, it takes a whole year to prepare for your first marathon. One cycle of general preparation, then a cycle of 10-kilometre preparation (to develop your capacity), and then a half-marathon cycle (for learning to run longer distances) are necessary before beginning specific marathon preparation. Each cycle lasts between 10 and 12 weeks and is followed by a break of one week, which adds up to nearly fifty weeks of preparation.

 

MANAGING THE AFTERMATH OF A MARATHON

The marathon will be your ultimate objective throughout the year of preparation. If the race goes well, you will probably feel like you have recovered quickly. But beware: the fatigue accumulated during a whole year of training, plus a race of several hours, can be deep-seated and should not be taken lightly. A period of recovery is essential for getting back in shape and avoiding injury.

 

SO, MORE THAN ONE MARATHON OR NOT?

2 marathons dans l'année

Technically, the answer is simple: yes, it's doable. Marathons are organised in two distinct periods of the year: spring and autumn, to avoid the heat in summer and cold weather in winter. There are only six months between spring and autumn, i.e. only half the time required to prepare for the first marathon correctly. But this time, you're not starting from scratch. So you only need to do 2 to 4 of the training cycles mentioned above. You must reproduce a specific marathon preparation cycle of between 10 and 12 weeks. But first you must complete a faster (10-kilometre or semi-marathon) cycle to gain speed. The marathon cycle tends to slow you down.

To summarise our calculations: with a break of 2 to 3 weeks after your first marathon, followed by a "fast" (10-kilometre or semi-marathon) cycle of between 10 and 12 weeks, then a one-week break, followed by a "marathon" cycle of 10 to 12 weeks, it is possible to prepare a second marathon in 24 to 28 weeks. Which fits between spring and autumn!

In any case, don't forget to listen to your body and watch for any signs of abnormal fatigue,in which case, you absolutely must slow down. And if you are crazy about Greek mythology and long races, you can always try the Spartathlon: a 246-kilometre race between Athens and Sparta! So get your trainers on…

Sébastien

This article has been written by Sébastien, Department leader at Decathlon Beauvais (France) and trail runner

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