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Jul 7, 2013

The Back-to-Back run

As most of you know, I've started my marathon training for Marathon #5, the Monumental Marathon in Indiana.  I'm going to start a weekly log to discuss how my training is going and also what I've done and what I have to do and I'll share that with you each Monday.

One of the things I wanted to discuss today is the back to back run.  Now I've done plenty of back to back runs since I started running.  For the last few years, I've run pretty much a four day stretch meaning I've run Monday through Thursday or whatever fits that week.

While this is back to back, it's not really what I think of what I think of a "Back-to-back" run.  I see these as two concerted efforts for two runs in a row.  Much of my weekday running has been just to get miles in and to keep a base.  This is a huge difference from trying to hit a goal.  For example, this past week, I ran 5 miles at marathon pace on Friday and then I ran a 10 mile run on Saturday.

In most of my past marathon training, my long runs have been cushioned by a rest day so that means I would typically rest on Friday, run my long run on Saturday(10-20 miles) and then rest on Sunday.  This time for marathon training my goal is to not cushion that long run.  According to Hal Higdon, who I am following for his Intermediate II schedule, the purpose is to learn to run on tired legs.  There are several other programs that also subscribe to this theory.

I was really surprised how I felt after my long run and how I did for my pace run as well.  I was able to hit a 7:37/mile pace for my Friday 5 miler AND then I ran my 10 miler at an 8:35 pace.  The goal for Friday was actually 7:49 pace(which is my BQ time) but the more I think about it, I'm probably going to have to run the marathon a little faster(but not 7:37) than this pace to qualify and also allow for some fatigue at the end of the race.

Of course, that's why I'm running the pace run to begin with so that when I do my long run, I'm tired.  AND THAT I WAS!  Actually, I think I did Ok overall since I can run my long run up to 1 minute per mile slower than marathon pace but I could not believe how tired I was when I started and by the end of the run I was exhausted!  Typically I've not been that tired since I've been cushioning the long run.  I think it's a key difference between just trying to keep a base of miles and trying to hit particular goals.

So I learned something very valuable right at the beginning of this 18 weeks of training that I have not experienced before -- that is the pace run then the long run is going to be a great tool to help keep me used to running tired.  I guess you would say to somewhat simulate the end miles of the marathon.

What have you done to improve your running whether it be a marathon or shorter distance?


10 miles on the bike this morning.  Took a nice ride out my door to Riverbend Park.  I didn't realized they have as many trails as they do.  I've determined I might be last in my triathlon in August.  I'm so slow!  Ha!


Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. I'm slower! I did a 10 mile ride 2 days ago at a 11.9 mph pace. Woot woot.

  2. I'm glad you had a nice ride at River Bends. We keep meaning to get out there and run the trails.

    As for the back-to-backs, I'm learning how this will work right along with you. I'm glad the first one went well. I'm used to not running the day before or after a long run too. It will be a learning experience and hopefully we continue to hold up!

  3. Also did back to back runs this weekend, both of them 2 hours Saturday's felt easy and I covered 26km (16miles) the on Sunday I did 25.2km (15.5miles) I always aim at running the distance (or time) of the 'big' race I an training for on the weekend. I have a 4 hour trail race coming up...

    1. I'll get up to 10 and 20 miler coach. Not sure I see myself running a marathon before the marathon.

  4. I looked at a training plan that had the Fri/Sat run like that and decided it wasn't for me. I think for more experienced runners it's probably great. I am running Tues, Wed, Thur though, just shorter miles. Hope it works well for you.