Coach Sage Canaday weighs in on when you should start incorporating double run days into your training schedule:

Today, I’ll be exploring when it makes sense to start running twice a day and incorporating ‘doubles’ into your training program. This is a common question I face as a coach, both with those I coach and from what I see on various online forums. The general rule is that for most people with busy schedules including work and family commitments, finding time to train efficiently is crucial. Running twice a day may not be feasible for most individuals due to time constraints. Another important factor to consider besides time is your weekly mileage.

When It’s Time to Do Doubles

If you’re consistently running over 60 miles a week, perhaps even reaching 70 miles, then it might be time to consider incorporating double run days into your schedule. This is a point we emphasize in our Higher Running programs; as your weekly mileage increases, adding doubles becomes more beneficial.

Incorporating double runs into your training regimen can enable you to achieve higher weekly mileage without increasing stress on your body. For instance, splitting your mileage into two sessions, such as 6 miles in the morning and 6 miles in the evening, can be gentler on your joints compared to running the entire distance at once.

When It Makes Sense to Do Singles

However, if your weekly mileage is below 60 or 70 miles, which is likely the case for many individuals, particularly those training for longer distance events like half marathons or beyond, you may derive more aerobic benefits from completing one continuous run. In this scenario, a single 10-mile aerobic run could provide a more effective training stimulus compared to splitting the distance into two sessions.

So, when considering the singles versus doubles debate, opting for a longer, continuous run may be more efficient in terms of maximizing aerobic gains. Plus, it eliminates the need for an extra shower!

In coaching literature like Mark Wetmore’s work with University of Colorado’s athletes, there’s a notable emphasis on high-mileage single runs. Athletes like Adam Goucher maintained a daily average of 14.3 miles, totaling a hundred miles per week. However, sustaining such high mileage solely through singles can be physically taxing. Wetmore’s rationale, as seen in later interviews, revolves around efficiency. By running once a day with occasional longer runs and easier recovery days, athletes can reach a hundred miles weekly with reduced exhaustion and risk of injury.

For many, doubling may not be time-efficient. However, it’s a valuable strategy for achieving peak weekly mileage without escalating the risk of overtraining or injury. Doubling allows you to distribute the workload effectively, making it easier to accumulate miles while minimizing strain.

My Personal Experience

For instance, during periods of easy mileage, like when I was running 125 miles a week, averaging 18 miles per day, doubling proved instrumental in maintaining consistency and minimizing fatigue.

To optimize my training routine, I typically ran 10 or 12 miles in the morning, followed by a rest period, and then completed a 6-mile run in the evening. This approach allowed me to break up the mileage rather than facing the daunting prospect of tackling 18 miles all at once on my easy recovery days. While long runs are essential and are included in my schedule, splitting the mileage into two sessions proved gentler on my joints, facilitating recovery while still achieving my mileage goals.

Moreover, doubling up provides a metabolic boost. By revving up the system earlier and later in the day, you maintain a steady energy flow and enhance fat burning between workouts. It’s akin to the effect of weightlifting, where your metabolism remains elevated post-workout, contributing to overall calorie expenditure and fitness gains.

So unless you’re consistently running over 60 miles a week or rapidly increasing your mileage and prioritize injury prevention or enhanced recovery, running twice a day might not offer significant efficiency gains. It’s crucial to tailor your training approach to your individual goals, fitness level, and recovery needs.

Happy running!

– Sage Canaday