A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Training for back to back races

on November 22, 2014

This week, I’m doing 4 miles and 8 miles for my back to back runs to prepare for the Rebel Challenge. I looked at the training plan and realized I only have 4 more back to back, big mileage runs between me and the race! (I’ll take a step back week for Thanksgiving and another in December because I’m on call, before I hit taper time) My current plan is to work my way up to 6 miles Friday/11 miles Saturday to simulate the back to back race experience. With only 4 more long runs to go, it’s past time to start seriously thinking about what needs to be different about training for a back to back to race, rather than straightforward half marathon training. I definitely need to think about a) how to pace them both so I’m comfortably able to finish them both and b) how to optimally recover after both races so that I’m actually able to stand up and walk off the plane when I land back in Omaha Sunday night (yes, I’m flying from California back to Omaha in the evening after running the half in the morning Sunday – I may regret that decision).

I’ve heard lots of discussion of training and racing tips with the Disney challenges on the Mickey Miles podcast and have read lots of blog posts about the 10K/half marathon experiences, so I had a pretty good idea of the things to consider but I turned to the wise and mighty Google just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. There are links to a couple of the articles I found helpful down at the bottom of this post!

Choose your challenge distances wisely: Most articles I read suggested that you only take on a back to back challenge if you’ve had experience in both distances, so your mind already knows you can handle the race. It would be intimidating to have my very first half marathon be part of a challenge where I ran a 10K the day before, although I know lots of people have done it. I’ve done two 10Ks and two half-marathons, so I’m definitely physically and mentally comfortable with the distances I’ll be doing in January. If you’ve never done the longer distance in your challenge before, you might look into a local race that’s the same distance or near to it (like a 10 miler) so that you could test yourself before the challenge.

Simulate your actual race experience in training: If your races are back to back and at the same time both days, train that way. If your races are back to back with one in the morning and the other in the evening, be sure you practice it that way at least once. I’m trying to time mine so that they’re approximately 24 hours apart, as much as possible, to replicate the RunDisney schedule.

Keep your pace in check: Most experts don’t recommend setting your goal as a PR for either race. The achievement, especially the first time you tackle something like this, is in finishing the challenge, not a specific time. The microtrauma from the first race is likely to leave you a little sore for your second, more so if you really push it in the first race. I don’t have a time goal for either of these races. I just plan to have fun, take lots of pictures and finish with a smile and a bunch of medals.

Don’t stop moving immediately: It’s tempting to immediately get off your feet to rest for the next race, but that’s likely to leave you stiff and achy. Instead, be sure to walk/jog to cool down after the first race and keep your legs loose. Stretching, yoga or foam rolling afterwards can also help speed recovery. My running wish list, coming up Monday, features some things to help me with just that in California. 🙂 As it will be first trip to Disneyland, I doubt I’ll have any trouble keeping active through the day – my bigger concern will be overdoing it in a desire to see it all at the park!

Refuel and rehydrate quickly: It’s going to be even more important than usual to rehydrate and to replenish your glycogen stores. After all, you’ll be calling on those glycogen stores again in just 24 hours! After the first race, try to get in some quickly digestible carbohydrates in the first 20-30 minutes after you finish plus additional carbohydrates and protein in the 2 hours. This will help replenish your glycogen stores and rebuild some of the muscle that may have gotten overworked in the first race. You may also consider starting your fueling earlier and fueling more often DURING the second race, as your glycogen stores may be a little less than usual despite your best refueling efforts. This is something you’d definitely want to practice so you’re sure your stomach will be happy with it. Also save any big celebratory foods until you’ve gotten through the SECOND race – you don’t want to upset your stomach celebrating the first race so much that you can’t finish the whole Challenge! In an ideal world, we’d do this after any long run but I confess I’m bad about the refueling part. I tend to drink some water with Nuun and call it good because I’m not particularly hungry immediately post-run. This is definitely something I need to work in the next few training runs.


Rest: Not only does this mean I shouldn’t walk every step of Disneyland Saturday after the 10K, it also means I need to take a nap and/or go to bed early Saturday night so I’m rested for Sunday. This is going to be more tiring than the average race experience and I need to respect that with some added rest for my body, both on race weekend and during training for the next 6 weeks.
Be sure you have back ups of everything: In addition to bringing two pairs of compression socks (one for post-10K to help recover for the half; one for post-half to help my legs get through the plane ride post-race), I’ll also need to bring two pairs of shoes in case it’s rainy or muddy or I just don’t want to wear the same shoes for back to back runs. Giving your shoes a day to recover between runs is always a nice idea, but again something I’m not great about. I need to start practicing in different shoes on different days.
Dole whip - Totally worth it!

Dole whip – Totally worth it!

So, I’ll totally be indulging in celebratory foods Sunday after I finish the half marathon – I’ll have definitely earned it! What are the can’t miss treats at Disneyland? Anybody survived the back-to-back races before? What advice can you share?


Runner’s World: Are you a two timer?

Runner’s World: How to fuel for back to back races

2 responses to “Training for back to back races

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: