Pros and Cons of Running Doubles

Fit your run inMy marathon training plan has me running pretty high mileage during the week. I usually have at least one 7-mile run midweek and in the coming weeks I’ll be logging upwards of 20 miles between my runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. While my training plan is a little more aggressive than a typical first-time marathoner training schedule, many marathon training plans, no matter the experience level of the runner, have at least one high mileage day during the week. If you’re like me and have a pretty busy work schedule, it’s hard to log the mileage in one run so I opt to split it up during the day and run what’s referred to as a double, or running twice in one day, a.k.a. two-a-days.

At first, I was weary about doing this because I thought I might not be getting the full benefit of a 7 or 8-mile run on a Wednesday, but after asking around and a little research, I learned running doubles actually has more pros than cons. If done correctly, running a double can boost fitness and build mileage (without feeling like you’ve been running forever).

When I have a double day on my schedule, like I did on Wednesday, I like to make one run a “workout” and the other an easy, recovery run. Since I’m training for Big Sur, my workout focus was on hills. I had to run a total of 7 miles for the day but instead went out for a 6 mile run at lunch that included two intense hills with an elevation grade that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 2.47.30 PM

Since I already got 6-miles of my daily mileage total done, after work I only had to run a mile so I opted for a slow, recovery run at the gym followed by tons of stretching and some strength exercises.

This was a more intense double day than I usually do. Usually I’ll split up a 7-mile run into a 4-mile tempo run at lunch followed by a 3-mile recovery run after work. I prefer to do my second run at the gym because then I’m able to get some strength training in after but you can do it outside too.

One tip I have for running doubles is to make sure you do some dynamic stretching before your second run. You’re muscles are going to be a little tight from your first run, especially if it was a workout, so you want to make sure you warm up before going right into the run. Then, as always, be sure to stretch out after your second run and hydrate- running twice in one day takes more out of you than you think!

Still not convinced about the benefits of two-a-days? Don’t you fret, of course I asked Twitter for its opinion on the pros and cons of running doubles. Here’s what people had to say:

There are also some cons though, although the majority seem to revolve around having to shower twice in one day.

So if you can get past showering twice in one day, endless hunger and not to mention some extra laundry, two-a-days really aren’t that bad. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself: how bad do you want it and how much are you willing to work for your goal?

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12 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Running Doubles

  1. Doubles work great when life is hectic. Not only do you get the long run in but you get two opportunities to spend some quality time alone. I actually LOVE 20 mile runs though (that’s my favorite distance) so I try very hard to make that work for me when its called for.

    • I agree about the extra alone time! I can’t believe 20 mile runs are your favorite! I envy you!! I have my first 20-miler tomorrow so I’ll try to channel some of your energy!

  2. You get used to multiple showers a day. At least I have. I now consider myself to be a professional showerer. I shower 3 times a day during the week (after morning bike commute to work, after lunchtime run, and when I get home from bike commute or before bed). But the benefits of multiple workouts are definitely there!

  3. In the summer my coach likes us doing doubles every day and I personally prefer doing one really long run in a day just because I don’t like to spend my entire day running but this year when my mileage gets really high this summer I’ll probably be doing them more so I’m not running 10+ miles at once every day. It’s an easy way to get some good mileage in for sure!

  4. I was just thinking of this since my weekday runs are getting higher up in mileage. I usually run very early in the morning and the snow/icy weather isn’t helping in getting me off my treadmill at that time. Plus the thought of doing more than 7 miles on a treadmill pains me! Breaking it up into morning/evening miles seems more appealing to me especially if I can get at least some miles outside.

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