Why run doubles? Get a life…

I remember years ago I was chatting to a runner after a 10 km race. This guy was a complete stranger but somehow we starting talking about how to improve and get better, or something along those lines. I remember he said something about running two times a day… I do remember that he had run that race in a very fast time and he looked very fit. But honestly, two times a day? Get a life, I thought….

Now, for better or for worse, I am that guy.

A few caveats here. I’m not saying that running two times a day is a good idea for everyone. And I’m not suggesting that we should run two times every day. But I have come around to this idea that in some cases it’s really worth considering the double as a viable option.

If you read what the experts say about this issue, you will find that the conventional thinking is that you don’t need to run doubles unless you are doing really big milage. Like over 85 miles per week. This is what Pete Pfitzinger advocates in his book Advanced Marathoning. But I believe that those of us who are running fewer miles per week can also consider doubles. In fact, Pfitzinger himself has modified his view on this issue and has stated that doubles can be good for those of us feeling run down and/or who are over 40 years old (for example, people like me!).

In my current marathon training plan there are few days when the schedule calls for running twice a day. This took some getting used to, but I actually find that it is much easier on my body to break up the run into two parts. On some days I run 4 miles in the morning and 6 in the evening or sometimes it’s the other way around. It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel after 8 hours, even if that’s time spent at work. My wife looks at me funny (maybe even a bit disapprovingly) when I’m gearing up to head out again, but I think she’s used it now. The trick is to tell yourself that you are not, in fact, running more, but actually giving your body a break and allowing for proper recovery.

Yes, it means doing more laundry and having another shower, etc. so it’s not as time efficient. But I have found that it’s actually quite a good way to keep the milage up and not get injured. In my case, I’m really in the thick of my marathon training now and I can feel the strain and fatigue building up. Next week will be another 70 miles of running. So instead of running 18 miles today I’ve decided to break it up into a morning 10 miler followed by a 8 mile run in the evening.

I believe that many of us can benefit from running doubles, even if you are running fewer miles than this. If you are like me, you might actually enjoy the experience. But you might want to keep it to yourself or be prepared for a few funny looks…