Double Problem, Double Enjoyable: Working Again to Again Races

pictures: Dan Heaviland (l); Mile 90 Images (r)

Within the fall of 2017, Ann Marie Chappell gained the Hawk Marathon Path Race, setting a course file. Lower than a month later, she gained the Rock Bridge Revenge 50Okay, once more ending with a course file. Within the span of just some weeks, Chappell had raced over 57 miles, fairly efficiently.

Whereas there are quite a few multi-day races and challenges the place runners race in two or extra occasions over the weekend, many runners, like Chappell, are creating their very own race calendar challenges by setting two or extra purpose races over just some weeks or months. These runners end one race, akin to in Chappell’s case, a marathon, and as a substitute of taking a prolonged break, eye one other race simply across the nook.

The difficulties with the purpose of working a number of races in a brief stretch of weeks embody an extended coaching cycle, making an attempt to carry an prolonged peak, elevated danger of damage, and the prospect of psychological burnout. However coaches say back-to-back racing isn’t unimaginable, and could be fulfilling.

“Racing is enjoyable, particularly compared to coaching, and athletes are at all times going to proceed to chase that subsequent private greatest,” says Seth Kopf, proprietor and working coach at Kopf Working. “I feel it’s pure and actually vital to ask ourselves, ‘What am I able to? What are my limits?’

“Working back-to-back occasions is hard and pushes us to see what we’re able to and simply how far we will go.”

Tune-up or Mixed Problem

Historically, many runners use one race as a tune-up or  “constructing block” to a PR on the subsequent race, says Joanna Zeiger, coach with Race Prepared Teaching and creator of The Champion Mindset: An Athlete’s Information to Psychological Toughness.,

Zeiger says, nevertheless, that back-to-back races don’t must be about hitting a purpose time in both; the mixed distance creates its personal distinctive and satisfying problem. “Not each race must be a PR, and at a sure time in an athlete’s profession, PRs turn out to be increasingly more troublesome,” she says. “Consecutive races supply a brand new problem that doesn’t require a greatest time.”

In Chappell’s expertise, she meant to make use of the marathon as a tune-up for her 50Okay, however she mentioned race day circumstances had been prime for her to “go for it.”

“The environment and the enjoyment of everybody on the Hawk (marathon) actually introduced out the easiest in me that day,” she says. Rolling by the primary race on a excessive, she confronted the second with out feeling run down.

Another excuse she was in a position to give each races her greatest effort? Each runs had been path races.

“The path floor itself is much more forgiving, and though I wanted just a few days to get better from the cardio stress of the path marathon, my physique bounced again much more rapidly than it did after any of my highway marathons.”

A Lengthy Climb to a Broad Peak

Chappell gained each her races with a particular coaching plan and what she calls a “devoted and conscientious method” to energy coaching, restoration and relaxation. Following a conventional “periodization” mannequin, she divided her coaching cycles into phases, akin to working economic system particular work and lactate threshold coaching.

Her coaching peaked simply earlier than the marathon and tapered for 2 weeks earlier than race day. Between the marathon and the 50Okay, she backed off intense exercises and ran by really feel the week after the marathon.

“I had no runs deliberate forward of time, and no coaching targets,” she says. “I gave myself time to run straightforward with the understanding that I had simply raced a marathon.”

In the course of the weeks between the races, she logged almost 75 miles in a single week, however the week earlier than the 50Okay, she reduce her mileage to lower than 50. Race week, she mentioned she solely ran 4 instances.

“I knew that my health wouldn’t go away in just a few brief weeks earlier than my second race, so my foremost purpose through the interim was to get better and really feel able to go once more for the second race,” she says.

Physique Whispering

As tough as it’s to reach to at least one race day wholesome, getting ready for wholesome begins at back-to-back races takes extra care, coaches say.

Chappell says simply as vital to her coaching was taking days off—generally choosing as much as two full relaxation days in every week.

“I additionally hearken to my physique,” she says. “As cliché as this sounds, it’s a ability that must be cultivated and maintained as we develop and alter over time. I’ve been working and racing for 25 years, and thru this time, I’ve discovered which form of fatigue or discomfort are OK and anticipated and which sign that it’s time for a break, a back-off in depth or a reset.”

Runners want high quality sleep and relaxation, notably throughout lengthy coaching cycles, Zeiger says.

“If an athlete is beginning to really feel burnt out throughout a coaching cycle, it’s OK to again off or take just a few days off to reset,” she says. “Make coaching social and enjoyable and don’t put an excessive amount of emphasis on any single exercise. One exercise gained’t make you, however it might break you.”

Photograph: Dan Heaviland

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With two or extra races looming so shut on the calendar, it’s straightforward to face psychological burnout, however Kopf says runners can push back weariness with yoga and meditation.

George Berg, proprietor of teaching website Working Wild, additionally suggests working new routes to maintain coaching recent and preserving an encouraging working firm round you.

“Keep as distant from adverse runners as you’ll be able to,” he says. “These are the runners that complain about each race and why they aren’t getting PRs or a BQ continuously. Encompass your self with constructive runners … The minute you make excuses is the minute you don’t obtain success.”

For Chappell, her success in each races got here from trusting her coaching and a ardour for working.

“I by no means had a time purpose in both race,” she says. “I solely needed to carry my greatest to no matter scenario introduced itself to me on race day.

“And, on the finish of the day, I didn’t measure the standard of my expertise by a ending time or place. It was the richness of the method, the spectrum of expertise, and the whole pleasure with which I ran that’s what stands out to me.”

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