How many marathons per year is it reasonable to run?

How many marathons per year is it reasonable to run?

We all know a runner who runs several marathons a year, sometimes more than ten in a year. While this may suit them, it is not necessarily an example to follow for everyone. How many marathons per year is it reasonable to run?

We will detail the average recovery time after a marathon, the optimal time for marathon preparation, and deduce the number of marathons it is reasonable to run in a year.

How long should you recover after a marathon?

The week after a marathon, you often don’t feel like running. Listen to your body; if you don’t feel like running, it means your body needs to recover.

In general, you should allow almost a full week of post-marathon recovery. If you feel like running a little, you can do some light runs at basic endurance. But be careful, even if you still feel a bit euphoric after your marathon, don’t overdo it! If you resume too quickly with interval training, you may experience a setback 3-4 weeks later.

After a very light week, you can start some small interval training sessions from week 2 or 3. However, it is recommended to take another two weeks gently with not too difficult sessions.

Therefore, you should allow at least about three weeks after a marathon before you can start preparing for another marathon.

How long should a marathon preparation last?

In general, you should allow between 2 and 6 months of preparation before a marathon. In a context where you are already used to running marathons regularly, the ideal specific preparation will be between 3 and 4 months, but it varies depending on the time you aim for, whether it is 3h30 or 4h, for example.

Therefore, you can theoretically combine 3 weeks of recovery + 3 months of preparation, so technically up to 3 marathons per year.

For example, this could be a marathon in March-April (Marathon of Paris, London, Boston, Rome, Barcelona,…), then in July-August, and then in November-December (Marathon of New York, Valencia, La Rochelle, Deauville,…).

The difficulty will be finding a marathon in the summer, as in the heat it is often contrary to marathon performance. However, you can find 40km trails, the maratrails, which have the advantage of being a bit at altitude and therefore a bit cooler.

How many marathons per year is it reasonable to run?

Therefore, it is reasonable to run 2 marathons per year if you are in shape, or even 3 marathons if you can find a marathon in the summer.

It is not recommended to run a marathon, even leisurely, in preparation for another marathon. Indeed, this can generate significant fatigue, and you should keep as much energy as possible for your target marathon. However, you can add a half-marathon in preparation, for example, one month before your marathon.

If you set yourself the challenge of running more, it is also possible. You may not necessarily maximize your personal record, but you have the right 😉. In this case, try to recover at least 1 to 2 months between two marathons. This leaves you the possibility of running 5 or 6 per year. Between each marathon, you should continue to work on your endurance and marathon paces.

Some runners run more than 10 marathons a year; they may be forces of nature but run the risk of getting tired and having to slow down in a few years. Therefore, do not necessarily look at what others are doing. Do what suits you to progress in the medium term and avoid injuries.

If you are looking to prepare for one or more marathons per year, you can download the RunMotion Coach app to get a personalized training plan. You can prepare for a main goal and add intermediate goals.

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Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for communication management.