5.17.2013

Running Doubles: Should you do it?

I have been running for years. I haven't always considered  myself a runner, but I am. Here is my history, I played soccer throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school. I remember talking my mom into letting me play, with a good friend's help. She said yes, but I couldn't quit. I don't think she knew what she was getting herself into with practices to make, games to go to, me kicking the ball against the side of the house for hours on end, my dad coaching, etc. I didn't quit. Our team ran track, I ran on the weekends, I ran over the summer. I played and then, I graduated high school.

I gained weight like most of us heading off to college. I started taking the aerobic running class and that was the start of a whole new world of running. I liked it and I didn't need a soccer ball or teammates. My coach taught me not to fear a race, to just sign up, and do it. I ran my first 5K in college. I loved it and it felt good to run for charity. I graduated from college, got a real job, and running took a side seat. Yes, I did run from time to time but it went further on the back burner when I moved from Texas to Hawaii. But it came back up to the forefront with my dreams to run a marathon. I trained hard. I ran. I have completed three marathons. And throughout this I pretty much stuck to one run a day. I probably could count the number of times I ran doubles on one hand. And in all reality, that was smart. I was building base. I was increasing my aerobic threshold. I was doing it right.

But the more I run the bigger my dreams become. I have HUGE dreams that go beyond the times I want for the two marathons on my plate this year. And that means, I need to run more. And I started throwing in doubles. I started carefully, once a week do a second run if I needed a few more miles. Keep it short. Keep it easy. Keep it slow. Slow. Slow.

And then something magical happened. As I review my training on a regular basis I realize I am running more doubles. Yes, more than once a week. Sometimes up to 3-4 times a week but usually between 2-3. And I am feeling good. But the question remains....

Should you run doubles?

Before I answer that let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of running twice a day. On the bright side, it is a good way to increase your weekly mileage. This is my main reason for running doubles. I can only do so much some mornings before work. By adding in a second run later in the day, I am able to hit my mile goals for the day and the week. Trust me, this is easier for me than waking up before 3:00 am. Running doubles also increases your training benefits. Think of it this way, your first run depletes your glycogen stores and then you are adding in a second run. This only boosts your body's ability to replenish your depleted glycogen. Sounds good, huh? And it increases recovery. Huh? You would think running twice could wear you down further but if done properly, adding in another easy run that is meant to help recovery will increase recovery. It will get your blood flowing and move nutrients and oxygen to your muscles.

But all good things have down sides. If running doubles had no risks everyone would be doing it from day one. But the thing is, everyone shouldn't. You need to have a solid base in place first because runners need the long runs, and the time on our feet running, to build up aerobic endurance. With this said, I strive to do all my long runs in one run when I do have the time. I do not want to break that run up since I do need my body to get used to running long in order to race long. And yes, there are back-to-back long runs. I have done them. I will continue to do them when needed but that is another post. And doubles can be tiring. If you are not able to run 30-40 minutes with ease I would not suggest adding the extra effort of running doubles. Your body needs time to heal and recover. And finally, running doubles can be mentally tough. We all know that some days it is hard to lace up our shoes and get out and run. Imagine doing that twice!

Is it worth it?

For me, yes. It is helping me reach my training goals and I can't wait to see how it impacts my race performance in the marathons this year. And stay tuned for how I hope it will make my even BIGGER dreams come true!

So, should you run doubles? 

Yes, if it fits your goals and if you are an experienced runner with a solid base. Add the second run in slowly. Stick with once a week for awhile until you get used to the new training effort. Keep the second run slow and easy. And don't forget to enjoy it! And if you notice you are getting too tired or your body is aching too much, listen to it. Sleep. Get a massage. Soak in an Epsom salt bath. Ease up for a bit. Just remember, take care of yourself! And finally, I strongly suggest putting at least 6 hours between your two runs. On the days I run doubles, I tend to do one in the wee morning hours and the second in the afternoon about 9-10 hours later.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for Aloha Friday!
Daily Affirmation: I have a kind heart.

8 comments:

  1. What if my run in the morning is HIIT and evening a longer, steady run? I have been thinking about doing that.

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    1. Sounds completely doable since you are easing up with the pace for the second run. Just listen to your body. It will let you know!

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    2. Carli, I do interval speed work in the morning and a slower steady run in the evening and it works for me. I tried reverse but it was just a disaster. If I run the next day, I take it easy.

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  2. Good for you! I read an article in runners world about it once and wondered. But it is not for me. Time for one.

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  3. I think double runs are a great way to get used to running on tired legs! I agree with keeping at least one long run a week though uninterrupted if you're marathon training.

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  4. The only time I've run doubles was when training for a relay. I do think there are many benefits to them, as long as they are both not hard efforts.

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  5. I have read many positives to running doubles as long as you do it correctly. I'm all for it

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  6. I like the idea of doubles. It seems like a great way to add that mileage. I just never seem to have the time or motivation. I have a hard enough time finding time once my husband gets home from work and if I have already run, it is easier to blow it off.

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