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036 Dr. Todd McGrath - Running Back-to-Back Marathons: Keeping Runners Running
Episode 365th April 2023 • The Passionate Runner • Digital Authority Group, LLC
00:00:00 00:26:54

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Episode Summary

Dr. Todd McGrath is a primary sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. He’s also an endurance athlete who works with runners at all levels, including elite to the ‘weekend warriors.’ Dr. McGrath has also served as team physician for the U.S. Soccer’s National Teams. Dr. McGrath has a strong personal and professional interest in endurance athletes. Today, Dr. McGrath joins the show to talk about running marathons closely together, what needs to be considered, and advice on how to recover faster and maximize the time in between marathons.

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Key Takeaways

00:57 – Whitney Heins welcomes Dr. Todd McGrath to the show to share his extensive background in sports medicine and advice he would give to those considering running back-to-back marathons

07:43 – The physiological impact of running back-to-back marathons

12:02 – How long is the ideal break between marathons after not running your best race

14:07 – Tips and best practices for ‘getting your legs back’ after running a marathon

15:32 – Identifying when a race isn’t going well

17:07 – Risks of running marathons too closely together

18:34 – Injuries and overtraining

20:31 – The six-week mark

22:06 – Why recovery is the key to running back-to-back marathons

25:27 – Whitney thanks Dr. McGrath for joining the show and sharing his experience

Tweetable Quotes

“If you decide early on during the New York City Marathon that things aren’t going how you wanted them to, and you decide to dial it back and take it easy and you make sure you’re not too beat up after the race, then it’s not unreasonable two to three weeks later to think about shifting to that ‘A’ Race. The training has been done. It’s still a little bit difficult though.” (08:30) (Dr. McGrath)

“There’s a few different physiological systems that are impacted pretty significantly. First off, your energy stored is completely depleted. You use up everything you have and then some, which is why you need to replenish during the race. You get a significant amount of muscle breakdown. You see things like your total KC - which is one of the enzymes that goes up in your bloodstream with muscle breakdown - that can go up incredibly high after a marathon. And it can stay high for days to a week or more after the marathon. Even after the muscle soreness is gone, you can still have elevation of that.” (10:08) (Dr. McGrath)

“You don’t run the risk of really hurting yourself, perse. You run the risk of not feeling well, negative performance because of it. You can get into the risk of potential injury if you just jumped back into training, but there are ways to do it if you’re gonna do it.” (13:32) (Dr. McGrath)

“I can find all the articles that will say that you should keep running with this injury or that, with the exception of a few. That’s because the health benefits of running - whether you’re racing or just running to run - far outweigh the negative effects of not being active at all.” (20:15) (Dr. McGrath)

“The recovery phase is critical. Look at it as the training was done. You’ve logged the miles. You’ve put the training into that first marathon. The gap in between the two really should be about recovery from the first marathon, getting plenty of sleep, rehydrating or replenishing all the nutrients lost in that marathon early on. Try to eat a well-balanced diet. Don’t try to crash, or lose weight, or anything like that in between. Fill the tank back up, basically.” (22:34) (Dr. McGrath)

Resources Mentioned

Whitney’s LinkedIn –

The Mother Runners Club –

Dr. McGrath’s Bio on HSS –


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