¿Cuántos maratones puedes correr al año?

The well-known Spanish athlete and coach Toni Peña, 3rd record of Spain in marathon (2:07:34) guides us in a relevant discussion.

Running 42 km (42,195 meters) is a demanding test for anyone. It takes a lot of wear and physical and mental preparation.

It is normal shortly after crossing the finish line, whether excited after completing your goal or a little frustrated not to have done so, you start defining your next challenge.

You might want to enjoy again a good feeling, or anger may drive you to find another opportunity. But for how long can your body and your head withstand the strain of running a marathon? How many marathons can you run every year? We asked Toni Peña, runner and coach, and 3rd best Spanish marathon record (2h07’34 ”) his opinion, and this is what he replied.

How many marathons can you run every year?

Not that there’s a mathematical rule to determine how many marathons can be run in a year, as each person has qualities and circumstances. However, there are certain factors that determine the time between marathons:

– Duration of the specific cycle: for me, a specific marathon cycle lasts 12 weeks or 3 months. Obviously this cycle begins when the athlete already has an existing base and is used to running.

– Post-marathon recovery: after a marathon a recovery period and some free training is required, forgetting the training plan and leaving your head and your body free from pressures so it can regenerate. This period can easily comprise 2 to 4 weeks.

Given these two phases, we have that we need at least about 4 months before tackling a new marathon.

What can happen if you practically chain a specific cycle with the following one?

If you simply give yourself 3 or 4 weeks of recovery and then start a new specific cycle, you are exposed to the following risks:

 Let your head stop you: the head can be as much or more important than the body in preparation for a marathon. Specific cycles require much mental pressure and if you do not let time pass between them so that the head also rests, it is easy to fall into the demotivation, or watching your performance go down without understanding exactly why.

– Increased risk of injury: too much continuous load for your body can damage it and not give it recovery time will increase your risk of injury.

Poor performance: if your head and your body are constantly under demand, your performance will suffer it.

Having spent those 3 or 4 weeks of recovery and active rest, the ideal would be at least 1 or 2 months of training without being specific cycle. Take the opportunity to do more work in strength, fitness, controlled rhythms and lay a good foundation to address a specific new cycle.

What if I feel good after a marathon and try to do the following one soon?

After a marathon well prepared, the feeling usually is that you’re very good physically and is relatively normal to want to address another one. More or less for a month, your fitness will be very good but then comes a major letdown.

Now, however well you’re so during that month, it is advisable not to face again the intense wear of a marathon. You can take advantage of your fitness to address some shorter race while you’re recovering.

If the body demands it, it is not a bad idea to run some sprints or even 10/12 km races as the body, with the rebound effect of the overcompensation after all the preparation of the marathon, has a few weeks of good feeling and good performance.

Facing another marathon during that month may be truly costly in terms of injuries, or you might find during the race that your legs do not reply, and heavy notes. It’s not that you may assure what would happen because with this distance all has a bit of a lottery in it. It could be the case that you get it right and even will realize an acceptable time.

Statistics and logic, though, tell us that facing in such a short time two tests so demanding as a marathon can lead to serious injury. There is no worse helplessness that wanting to train and compete and be months in a dry dock for an injury. When I say months, they can easily be six or more.

Racing a marathon, for me, means giving all of oneself. Going around to do some running is different, but even that can lead to injury because you are running a lot of time

I do all these valuations considering that when one gets the number, starts to give the best of oneself, you do not go out running or jogging for the sole purpose of finishing.

I think it is a serious mistake tp finish a goal, and a few days later be set in the following specific cycle.

The final question: how many marathons every year can you do?

I ran two marathons a year and I think that if you want to prepare well (each of us according to our abilities and circumstances), this is the recommended number. And if you want to prepare it very well and enjoy more time for your leisure and other commitments, it’s better one per year.

You should consider that the minimum between marathon and marathon is 4 months, you could still get to make just 3 per year but that would be practically chaining specific cycles and that may easily be costly for you, in the form of injury or poor performance. I do need to say that it is necessary to have enough time for this considering that you are a popular athlete and have other commitments beyond sport.

In my view, two marathons a year is the ideal number. You will have time to prepare and time to recover. Remember that the outcome of your next marathon will depend on how you recovered from the last one.

In my case, I ran the spring and summer marathons. All my season was organized based on these two competitions to be at that time in peak form. Then there could be smaller sub-targets or shorter races or crosses during the season but the key dates were these two marathons.

After these goals I had a rest period of 4 or 5 weeks, but it was not total rest. I did alternative workout. After these 4-5 weeks I charged towards the new target.

AUTHOR: Toni Peña, 3rd best time in Spain in marathon (2h07’34’’), designs personalized online plans of training and gives feedback at


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