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How to race 4 marathons in 4 weeks

How to race 4 marathons in four weeks? The answer is simple - it’s impossible! However, racing and running marathons are two very different things.

Starting this Sunday, I will be running 4 marathons in 4 weeks:

  • Berlin Marathon: 25th September. Sub 2:20 target!!

  • London Marathon: 2nd October. Pacing sub 2:38 bus!

  • Chicago Marathon: 9th October. Pacing sub 2:40 bus!

  • Cape Town Marathon: 16th October. Pace TBC closer to the time, depending on what shape I’m in.

What have I gotten myself into??!!

I’ve always said that the hardest part to running a marathon is the preparation and build-up to it. Actually, the race day is just a cherry on the cake. If you’ve trained for a marathon properly, you’ll often find, like me, the training seems way tougher than race day. On race day, there’s a vibe, you’re running on fresh legs (generally), you have people around you, music along the route. It’s those solo sessions, those really tough workouts, those tough mornings when you’re doubtful about running - those are the times that truly count. Don’t get me wrong - no matter how prepared you are for a marathon, if you’ve given it your all, that last 10km segment is always tough!

And there lies the answer to the question: it’s all in the training.

I've been training for just over six weeks for the first of my four marathons: Berlin marathon.

Whatever I put in over those next six weeks will just make this whole experience more enjoyable. It’s all about building the best possible base that I can so that I’m prepared as best as possible for what’s to come. Once the marathons starts, there’s no going back! I’ll have to trust my fitness levels, and what will be will be. There’s enough motivation right there for me to make every single day count until this point.

Just 1 week until the magic kicks off!

Thankfully, Berlin is the one I’m targeting, and this is the one I will be racing! I have made it very clear that I will be targeting a sub 2:20 marathon, and the search for 60 seconds has already begun. After Berlin, regardless of what happens, I will be running the other marathons, not racing them. In fact, I will be pacing certain times to help fellow runners, specifically those who I coach, achieve their goals.

At London Marathon, I will be running a sub 2:38 bus.

At Chicago Marathon, I will likely be running a sub 2:40 bus, but this is dependent on what sort of shape the runners who I am helping, are in.

Who knows how fast or slow I’ll run at Cape Town - let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Hopefully, I’ll have enough in the tank, more so mentally than physically. But what better way to finish off the four-marathon series than in Cape Town.

If you look at the world’s best like the Kipchoge’s of the world, they only race two marathons a year and there’s a reason why: a marathon block takes a lot out of you! Racing more than two a year could just set yourself up for failure. Running more than two is fine but racing them makes it almost impossible to perform at your best.

My thinking behind running all four of them was as follows:

After Rotterdam, I had to have another crack at breaking 2:20 and what better place to do it than Berlin marathon! Such a bonus that Kipchoge is going to be there too!

London Marathon, I’ve said to myself, I’ll do as many times as possible. It’s my favourite race in the world with an atmosphere that is hard to match anywhere else. The fact that I’m pacing this year is slightly different to the way I have approached it in previous years where I have gone all out.

Chicago Marathon is a deferred entry. I know there are a lot of people going across to Chicago from the UK. What a vibe it’s going to be! I am also on a mission to get my Marathon Majors six-star-medal, so Chicago was always on the list for me.

Finally, I finish off with Cape Town Marathon. I’m going across with Team Africa Marathons from the UK. They gave me this opportunity, and it seemed too good to turn down. There’s a group of around 6 of us going.

Apart from Berlin, I’m keen to help others achieve their goals where I can. After Jake Smith paced me for a 10km section at Rotterdam, it made me realise just how helpful that was.

Recovery between races is going to be the most important factor to running them successfully! Pacing a sub 2:38 bus at London the week after going all out at Berlin is going to be no easy task. Usually, I would finish a marathon and then have a complete blow out. However, I’m going to have to keep things civilised, at least until after Cape Town marathon! Good sleep, foam rolling, massage gun, recovery boots, sports massage, good nutrition, epsom salt baths, and a whole lot more will be big things to focus on the days between the marathons – together with the jetlag.

No excuses, no regrets - let’s give these 4 weeks one FULL send!

One thing that most certainly is going to help me get through these 4 marathons in 4 weeks is rewarding myself afterwards. I’m doing this by booking a holiday house in Cape Town and spending an extra few weeks there. It’s just as important to break your body down, in the same way that you built it up. Marathons take a lot more out of you than you think. Starting up again too soon can be detrimental to your running.

So there you have it: four marathons in four weeks. It all sounded amazing at the time, but after writing this I’m really hoping I don’t suffer too much - ha ha.

You live life once! Sit back, enjoy, and, of course, I will do a YouTube vlog on each race. Let’s give it our BEST shot! Hope to see many of you at these races if you’re around.

Good luck to all runners who are doing them.

Onwards and upwards,

Coach Nick

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