Your Second Marathon: Where Do You Go After Number One? 7 Tips to Get You There

You Did It! You are a marathoner! It was hard, it was exciting, it may even have been grueling, but you did it. After a few days spent rejoicing, sharing your experience, showing off your medal, and impressing your coworkers, you may be thinking, “What’s next?”

Your Second MarathonOkay, so maybe you will deal first with your sore muscles (in my case my toes were so sore I could hardly walk), blisters, and chafing, but if you are like most people, you will eventually decide to run your second marathon.

For most people, the goal for the first marathon is simple. Just finish. But when you make that commitment to a second one, most people will want to finish faster.

To run your second marathon faster, you will need to make some changes to your training plan. Here are seven tips for getting to the finish line of your second 26.2 faster than your first.

Wait. Yes, you read that right. In your excitement to start training for number two, you may feel like you want to get going right away. Don’t do that. Give yourself and your body a few weeks to recover from your race.

Pick Your Race. Choose a race about five or six months out. Consider the size, geography, and location of your race carefully. If your goal is to run faster, a smaller, flatter race with cool temperatures is your best bet. This may not be the time to run in a race that encourages you to stop and pose with cartoon characters or princesses. Just sayin’.

Add Some Speed. While your first marathon was probably all about increasing your mileage, you will need to add some speed work if you want to finish faster. There are two types of speed work that I would recommend: Tempo (lactate threshold) runs and Interval runs. Tempo runs are longer, steady state runs, from two-five miles, done at about your half marathon pace. Interval workouts are typically done on a track, and are shorter, generally 800-1600 meters for marathon training, at about your 10k pace, with a short rest between intervals. Marathon pace runs are also great workouts that will increase your stamina and teach your body what your goal race pace feels like.

Add More Mileage. To run a faster marathon, you will probably need to train more than you did for the first. And that means more mileage. Add mileage gradually to avoid injury. You can add mileage by adding an extra training day and by increasing the distance of your individual runs. Don’t do both things in one week. Add an extra day first, then you can work on increasing the daily mileage.

Take a Break. Take a cut back week every third or fourth week. Cut back on your mileage by about 20%, giving your body an opportunity to rest, which is vital to getting stronger and avoiding injury.

Get Personal. This is a good time to skip the cookie cutter training programs and design your own plan (or hire a coach to do it for you).  If you create your own plan, be sure to keep a few things in mind. Depending on your running experience, your training plan should be from 12-24 weeks long. You should start with a base building period, where your focus is on increasing your mileage. Follow that with a period of higher intensity, where you will include your speed training workouts. Don’t forget to schedule your taper period, from two to three weeks out from your goal race, where you will gradually decrease your training volume.

You will also want to figure out your mileage. How long should your long runs be, what your total mileage will be at your peak, how long will your other weekly runs be. When you create your schedule, work in your two or three key runs: your long run, tempo run, and interval training, and build the rest of the schedule around them.

Other Stuff. Strength training workouts, yoga, stretching, and foam rolling can help you run a faster second marathon by keeping you strong, flexible, and injury free. Pay attention to how you feel and don’t ignore a small injury or it may become the thing that keeps you from achieving your goal.

If you follow these tips, I can almost guarantee that, all other things being equal, you will run a faster second marathon.

I wrote a series on running a faster marathon. You can find it here or by using the tab at the top of the page. And here you will find a few of my favorite speed workouts.

Need more individualized help? I can create a personalized training program that is designed to get you to the finish line faster. I am both an RRCA and USATF certified coach.  Click here or the tab at the top of the page.

Are you ready for your second marathon? Do you want to get faster (whether it’s your second or your tenth)? Do you have any tips to add?

 photo Signature_zps65e035a8.png

Need a coach to help you reach your running goals?

LogoI am an RRCA certified running coach and I also hold a Level One USATF certification. I have more than 12 years experience coaching runners of all ages and levels. More information...


  1. says

    Good post. Not in the cards for me, but I like reading about it!

  2. says

    Such a great post Debbie. I remember that my first marathon was all about getting to the finish line but wasn’t really sure where to take it after that when thinking about subsequent marathons. I wish that I had read this back then!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Life Jacket RequiredMy Profile

  3. says

    Great tips for me as I’m still in the planning stages for my second marathon! I definitely need to run more mileage this time around. I’m also picking a race that is very local so I can spend the night in my own bed. Last time I shared a bed with a sick toddler. Not the best way to spend the night before a marathon! :)
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…The Most Meaningful MilesMy Profile

  4. says

    Awesome tips! I think giving yourself time between the first and second is SO key. My second marathon netted me that elusive BQ!
    Marcia recently posted…5k Run/Walk to End LupusMy Profile

  5. says

    Debbie, this post is spot on! I ran my first marathon in 2010 and am 9 weeks into training for my second one now! I’m doing more speedwork, more stretching and strength training, I’m using a personalized plan rather than the one-size-fits-all plan I used last time, and my weekly mileage is well above what it was 3 years ago.

    I can honestly say I totally feel the difference and think I’ll have a great result in my second marathon! I’m so glad I read this post, because it gave me extra confirmation I’m training right!! Thank you!
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted…Marathon Training Week 9 Update – ReflectionMy Profile

  6. says

    I’ve been flirting with the idea of running a marathon. Flirting 😉

    Blood blisters. I got my first one a few weeks back. I wore the wrong socks and paid for it (if that’s really what it was from!).
    Kierston @candyfit recently posted…Life In Slow Motion….My Profile

  7. says

    You are totally spot on here! I especially love your advice to wait. SO many people are on that high post-marathon number one and pull the trigger too quickly on number two. Then they’re right back in the thick of training and end up hurt.
    misszippy recently posted…Don’t be afraid of a little dirtMy Profile

  8. says

    I loved your comment about skipping a race that encourages you to stop and pose with cartoon characters or princesses. I loved my Run Disney races, but they are definitely NOT for someone looking to improve their speed. Great points.
    Haley recently posted…Weekly Workouts 9/9 – 9/15My Profile

  9. says

    Great post. I’m always training for one race or another and was just wondering this week if I should be taking it easy every few weeks. Now I know!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge