Seeing double: Training with two-a-day runs

This is the first year that I’ve hired a coach and actually followed a training plan. I’ve

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Second run of the day almost always includes a baby. ❤

learned a lot over the last year, including the value of intervals to help make you fast, how cross training is critical for ultra running, and most recently, the value of running doubles.

During my 100 mile training, my coach added a lot of two a day workouts, but I very rarely ran twice in one day.  Instead, I would run my workout in the morning and then hike, stair climb, or spin in the evening after work a few times a week.  For my current marathon training cycle, my coach has incorporated a few shorter tempo runs as doubles during the week.

There are several benefits to running double days once you’ve established a good running base:

  • You gain more cumulative miles, which helps boost aerobic endurance.  It also means that if you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, you can split up a longer run into two runs to still get the same mileage.
  • You challenge your body to recover faster when there is less time between runs. (It is recommended to give yourself enough time in between runs. Double runs are not as effective if you run them 2 hours apart, and many sources recommend five hours.)
  • According to Runner’s World, running doubles delivers a double boost of human growth hormone (production peaks about 40 minutes into a run), which helps build and repair muscle.
  • Along those lines, Runner’s Connect says running twice per day increases the frequency at which you speed blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles.  Running a double run after a hard workout will help flush blood, nutrients, and oxygen to and from tired muscles.
  • Running doubles can create a spike in resting metabolic rate because you are revving the engine twice in one day instead of once in a continuous longer bout of running, which can help runners maintain racing weight.  With that, it’s important to maintain proper nutrition so that you continue to perform.
  • This also means that you put your body into a glycogen depleted state, which improves training adaptations. Studies have shown that glycogen content, fat oxidation, and enzyme activity increase when training twice per day.
  • It forces you to use muscle fibers that are typically not used, and your body learns to adapt to a new strategy of digging a little deeper.

Research and anecdotes all corroborate the value of running doubles, but for a working mom and wife, it’s a tough schedule to maintain!  For my current training cycle, it’s been made easier because my husband often joins me for my after-work runs, and we bring the stroller.  It’s time that we can be together and knock out a workout at the same time.  My doubles are also kept under 30 minutes, which is a much easier pill to swallow once it starts getting dark so early in the winter time.

I have definitely felt the effects of fatigue as a result of the doubles, which according to everything that I’ve listed above, should be a good thing.  With the increase in training, even just adding a few <30 minute tempo runs at the end of the day requires proper rest on rest days and a good strategy of recovery!

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After work double with the fam!

Do you run doubles?  How long is each run and what’s the intensity?

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