July 2019 - Double Days

The Question

July's question was from halfmaraman, who's toying with the idea of running twice a day:

I'm a half marathon runner and am hitting about 60 miles a week now. I'd like to add even more mileage next year and I'm aware I probably have to start incorporating two runs a day. Is there a good approach to doing this? Up until now I try to alternate easy and hard days. Do I now do easy mornings and hard evenings?

- halfmaraman

Matt - running coach
Matt - Athletics coach and distance runner

”Alternating easy and hard days is a great idea and certainly one you should follow if you are going to begin incorporating two runs in a day. You are also certainly on the right lines with the easy run being in the morning and the harder run in the evening.

The key things I'd recommend from a logistical point of view are:

  • When first introducing double running days into your weekly training programme, ensure there are easy days on the day either side. It is imperative to gently introduce your body to increased demands without overloading.
  • Remember to incorporate more stretches (yoga recommended) into your daily routine in order to accommodate the additional mileage you'll be running.

To start with, perhaps try a morning session of 20-30 minutes to ease yourself into the routine. The harder session in the evening could involve intervals such as 30-second reps with 30-second recoveries.

In relation to the additional mileage, the main thing to try and avoid is the trap of "junk mileage". This is where you are running but not actually gaining any benefits from the workout in question. This is a regular debate amongst coaches and runners alike. I sway towards the camp of being an effective half marathoner without going over the 60-mile-a-week range. There are, however, arguments to the contrary. My advice would be to introduce a few double day sessions and see how they pan out for you. If it's too much strain or you're not getting the results that you're after, then you can always revert to the original 60 miles per week.

Our Member's Answer

July's member's answer was from Tara.

Tara - high mileage

“Double days need to be approached with care. I was previously running about 70-75 miles a week. Four single days, two double days, and a day off. When I first started introducing the doubles I actually dropped my mileage back a bit, with the plan of gradually increasing. It took about three months to go from 60 miles to 70 miles this way.”

Thanks, Tara. You highlight the importance of longer-term goals and being a little patient with increasing mileage.

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