Back-to-back long runs

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

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.


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