I believe back-to-back long runs are the heart and soul of endurance training. They can be grueling or fun, it’s all in the art of preparation.
I have been running back-to-back long runs for about a year now and they work something like this.
- Saturday 3.0 hours. Sunday 2.0 hours.
- Saturday 3.5 hours. Sunday half-marathon race.
- Saturday 4.0 hours. Sunday 3.0 hours.
- You get the idea. You can use a good plan from runnersworld.com.
Based on my experience, here is how to make back-to-backs not only bearable but enjoyable.
Change your “speedy” mindset: These runs aren’t about speed. They are about time on your feet and running on tired legs. Last year I followed the 25 minute run / 5 minute walk pattern and it worked well. I didn’t get injured and I was able to keep going.
Mix it up: I vary my course almost every weekend. Sometimes I do hills, sometimes trails, sometimes the road, sometimes all three at once. I like to throw in a race on occasion too. Last weekend the KP Half Marathon was my Sunday long run.
Go early: I head out around 6:00 AM for anything longer than 2 hours. Otherwise my whole day feels shot by the time I am done. It is hard to get moving, but once I am out there I enjoy the silence of the morning and get into a groove.
Run with other people: This is key! I have found two ways to do this. (1) Run with people as crazy as you who want to go long. (2) Pick people up along the course. This requires a coordinated effort on your part, but it is worth it. This Saturday I am picking up one partner at hour one, another at hour two, and meeting my club at hour three.
Ask your partner or spouse to crew: For anyone who has children, this will be key. My husband has recently joined my effort without even realizing it. Bless him. This Saturday, I am running four hours and finishing at our boys’ basketball tournament. My husband has graciously agreed to get the boys to the game, and bring me water, a change of clothes and a Starbucks. I, in turn, will manage the post-game kid activities. Teamwork at it’s finest.