Can running two times a day (Doubles) help improve your performance and build miles?
As I look toward training for a fall race I started doing some research into what it takes to build miles through running doubles rather than doing one or two long runs per week.
All the research seems to suggest that running doubles is definitely an alternative only if you are putting in 50 - 60 miles per week, or you have maxed out the amount of mileage you can do in a single workout and:
- You are struggling to find the time to get your long runs completed or maintain weekly mileage.
Running several Double workouts a week allows you to get more mileage in on a consistent basis. For some schedules it can be easier to log two 10-milers than a 20-miler.
- You find yourself in a weight-loss plateau
Running 2 times daily increase calorie burn. If you think about it, it makes sense – it takes a couple of hours after you run for your metabolism to return to normal. Do that twice a day and you’re enjoying the benefit of two calorie-burning workouts – plus double the post-run boost.
Consistent high mileage will boost your running economy – the amount of energy you require to run fast.
Like all changes in your training, splitting your workouts into 2 sessions should be approached slowly and with some planning.
According to distance coach Pete Pfitzinger, you should start adding doubles to your runs in the following order:
1) Long interval or speed workouts
2) Tempo runs
3) Races of 10K or less
4) Recovery runs
5) Medium long runs
A little planning is key. For example, an easy run in the morning will prepare you for a tougher interval workout in the evening. Once your training schedule calls for “recovery” days of 8 miles or more, switch those easy days to doubles (2 X 4 instead on one 8 miler). DO NOT do a second run on the same day you are doing your weekly long run. It will only slow down your recovery and increase your potential for injury.
To get started, move slowly into running double workouts. Start by doubling up just twice a week. Ed Eyestone, writing for Runners World suggests that you initially add an extra workout of as little as 20 minutes, initially dropping the length of that day’s main workout by 10 or 15 minutes. Then, as things get easier, return the main workout to its original level and extend the easier workout to 40 minutes. Double up on as many days as you want says Eyestone, but be sure to stay at each stage at least two weeks before adding more miles.
The Importance of Recovery
If you’re going to run Doubles, recovery is especially important. Allow at least 4 hours between workouts and be sure to rehydrate and consume 500 calories within 30 minutes of finishing each session.
Here are several suggested Doubles workouts from Ed Eyestone.
Extra Aerobic work:
AM: 3 to 4 easy aerobic base pace / PM: Intervals
Improvement to Running Economy, Weekly Mileage Boost:
AM: 4 to 5 miles easy aerobic pace / PM: 4 to 8 miles conversational pace
Increased Blood Flow to Muscles, Speeds Recovery
AM: 5K or 10K race / PM: 2-3 miles conversational pace
After trolling the runners’ forums and doing the research it looks like there are some people who will periodically break up their longer run days into two workouts – simply for the convenience and especially when doing long runs for marathon training. But it seems that Doubles are best incorporated into the schedules of serious competitive marathoners, ultra-marathoners, or cross-country runners.
In other words, the best way for most of us to train distance is to run distance – in a single session.
What do you think? Have you ever run a Doubles schedule?