The Beginners Guide to Multiple Race Events

Rick asks: I’ve registered for my first multiple race event at the end of February. On Saturday, it’s a 15K followed by a 5K, then a half marathon on Sunday. I’m wondering how to train for something like this. To date, I have run two half marathons and a few 5Ks, with 14 miles as my longest training run. I usually run three times a week, but I would consider increasing that for this event.

Multiple event races have become quite popular and provide a unique training challenge. Training properly beforehand is very important, as is formulating a good postrun recovery routine to help you stay fresh for each event.

Keep in mind that multiple event races generally mean a moderate paced effort rather than an all-out race effort. Run conservatively on Saturday knowing you have two races that day and another event on Sunday. If you are feeling good on Sunday—once beyond the midpoint of the half marathon—then you can consider picking up the pace.

Your three-day run schedule sounds like it has been working well for you, so my suggestion would be to simply add one additional day of running per week. This increase should be enough to boost your training for this event without increasing your weekly volume too drastically.

This additional day can do two things for you. One week it can function as a back-to-back run day by using it to run two days in a row. Then, it can be used to do a double run the next week by doing a morning run and an afternoon run. The following week you can drop back to your usual three-day-a-week runs for an easier week.

Given the distances of these events, 20 to 22 kilometres should suffice as your longest run distance. The distance of the fourth run day can be between three and five miles. (Others can adjust this plan slightly if they have longer or shorter distances for their multi race events.) Follow the plan below for guidance:

Week One (back-to-back): Run Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Week Two (double run): Run Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the morning and evening.

Week Three (cutback week): Run Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Week Four: Return to the first week and repeat the cycle.

Adequate nutrition and hydration are essential for peak performance. Experiment during your training with run nutrition products to determine what and how much you need to avoid glycogen depletion. (We have more on that here.)

Developing a solid postrun recovery plan when doing multiple day events is also crucial for success. Consider incorporating a cooldown phase (walking or easy running for five to 10 minutes) after each run, stretching, wearing compression socks, foam rolling, and/or massage when you have time during training. These are all excellent practices to aid your recovery.

Fatigue is also a limiting factor and often compromises running form. Strength training can help you maintain better running form and; therefore, run more efficiently and yield better results.

Adding strength training to your workout routine twice a week could be very helpful when racing multiple events.

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