So I signed myself up for a 5k road race, but it turns out i have a track meet the following day. Would i be able to go hard in the 5k and go hard in the track meet too? If not, is there anything i can do in-between to help my recovery before the track meet?
Your decision here may rest on a few important factors:
- Your normal runs the day after a race. Do you take the day off, go for a short shakeout run, or just train normally?
- Your level of comfort with both of the distances you're running.
- How you feel after the first race - both in the hours after and on the next morning.
Normally, I race on a Saturday, and do my weekly long run on the Sunday. This means that in a case where I also have a Sunday race, I'd be both mentally and physically prepared to have a harder run, because that's kind of what I already do! In high school (I speak as a college runner), I'd almost always either take the day after a race off or do maybe a short shakeout run; this meant that I was not prepared for doubling up in multi-day meets. Now, my next-day long slow distance means that if I really had to race on back-to-back days, I might feel better about it.
I've raced on back-to-back days before, but only for events that are short for me - middle-distance events like the mile and two mile. I find that these tend to have less of a toll for me personally in the days after I race one. Comparatively, my runs in the days after an 8k or 10k are both shorter/slower and more difficult for me; I feel them in my calves. I recover quicker from shorter races than longer ones - but that's just me. I'd be more likely to race the day after a 1500 than the day after a mile.
Whenever you run multiple races on any day - and when you intend to go all-out in all of them - you should make sure that you continue to assess yourself. After the 5k, think about how your body's feeling - in terms of both general fatigue and specific signs that you could be in injury trouble. If you don't feel good enough, don't race the 1500! Don't feel pressure to go through with it if that's the path to injury.
Anecdotally, at a meet this past weekend, a teammate of mine raced the 5k on Friday and the 1500 on Saturday. The 5k was good, partly because she's a good long-distance runner. The 1500 was not good; she ran slow, felt fatigued going into the second race, and said she regretted it. But that's just one data point; I know other people who have done the same and been just fine. As I said, it depends.
- Think about your normal training regimen for the day(s) after a race.
- Consider how you've felt after running the 5k in the past.
- Reevaluate your fitness several times between the end of the 5k and the start of the meet the next day.
- Be smart: don't run if you're going to push yourself too hard.