Two of my favorite races are in April–the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and the GW Parkway Classic. I used to choose to run one or the other, but I love both so much I’ve figured out how to run back to back races. Since I’m joining the Friday Five link up hosted by Eat Pray Run DC, Mar on the Run and You Signed Up for What?! I’ll share my five main strategies.
Last year the Cherry Blossom and Parkway Classic were on back-to-back weekends. This year they are two weeks apart (the Parkway Classic is on Sunday!) but I still put these same tips to work.
1. Train for the harder race. The Cherry Blossom is known for being flat and fast, and it is–even if that 20 ft climb at the end feels like a mountain. On the other hand, the first 5 miles of the Parkway Classic has rolling hills, and there is another hill at mile 9 that many runners opt to walk. I try to make sure that my spring training includes hill repeats and hilly long runs so I am ready for the Parkway Classic, but I also do speed work so I can push my pace at the Cherry Blossom.
Parkway Classic Elevation Profile (source)
2. Set different goals. Last year I set course PRs at both races, but my Parkway Classic pace was slower. That’s OK because every race is different and should have a different goal. The Parkway Classic course is hillier, the weather tends to be warmer, and my legs probably are still recovering from Cherry Blossom. After keeping a 7:52 pace at Cherry Blossom this year I am hoping to run the Parkway Classic at an 8:00-ish pace if my legs (especially my IT bands and sore calves … ) cooperate.
3. Take an ice bath or Epsom salt bath after the first race. On my way home from the Cherry Blossom we stopped to get ice for my post-race ice bath.
I wasn’t really psyched for my first ice bath of 2015, but I knew it would help my legs recover from the hard effort I put in. If ice baths aren’t your thing, you can take an Epsom salt bath instead. (I wish they worked as well for me, but they just don’t.)
4. Stretch, foam roll, and refuel. With back-to-back races, I have to be careful with my post-race eating and make sure I am eating healthfully in the days between races. I also try to take extra time for stretching and foam rolling, and this year I managed to squeeze in a sports massage on the weekend between races.
Ragnar–the ultimate back-to-back racing experience!
5. Take a few days for active rest and/or easy activity. When the cherry blossoms are still in bloom, my favorite active recovery after the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is to take an easy run, walk, or bike ride to see them again.
Wearing my Cherry Blossom race shirt for my day-after recovery walk.
Sometimes I’ll do a shake out run two days after Cherry Blossom, but this year I didn’t run until Thursday. (I did my strength routine on Tuesday and indoor cycling on Wednesday.) After that I was back to my usual routine, but kept my workouts on the easy side.
So, that’s how I train for back-to-back-race, recover between back-to-back races and sometimes PR at back-to-back races. Do you have any other tips?
Have you run back-to-back races?