Many pros run two times each day, but what about recreational athletes? One runner weighs the pros and cons of this training strategy.
The Two-A-Day Strategy
Most women who run more than 60 miles each week rely on more than seven runs in seven days. They often double up, sandwiching their days with morning and evening mileage. After all, that’s what it takes to get to the elite level.
But what about the recreational runner? What if you’re logging 40 miles each week, or even 25? Is there any merit in splitting your mileage between two daily runs? Maybe. It all depends on your purpose.
Here’s a question for you: “Why don’t you run 1 mile at a time, six times a day?”
If I asked you that, how would you respond? Maybe you’d roll your eyes and explain how busy your day is, how you don’t have time for multiple runs or multiple showers. Perhaps you’d look at me like I was crazy. After all, running one mile at a time won’t adequately prepare you for that October half marathon you’ve signed up for. But there’s also a chance you’d be fighting the urge to give me a giant hug. You’ve been grappling for motivation to start running or run a little more. Breaking the mileage between multiple runs might be exactly what you need to gain fitness.
The fact is, running for a sustained period of time allows the body to mentally and physically prepare for the similar demands of a race. So, if you’re hoping that splitting your runs won’t make a difference on race day, you’re out of luck. Your mind still needs to get used to focusing for that long, and your body still needs to build its endurance.
That’s not to say that splitting runs is a no-no. It’s actually a great option for many runners, especially those who are prone to developing injuries. Increasing mileage—whether you’re coming back from an injury or just adding weekly volume—adds stress to your body. Adding miles onto a second run helps reduce that stress and acts as a buffer while your body adjusts to doing more.
Another great benefit of doubling up is that it allows you to be more flexible with your window for running. This is especially valuable when there’s inclement weather or you’re fighting for daylight. If you are running for a shorter time period, you decrease the time you’re running in the dark or on the treadmill.
If you’re considering adding a second run to your training, make sure you look at your reasons for doing so before you make the switch. As long as your runs are still long enough to prepare you for any races you might have, doubling up could be a great option.
Ultimately, you need to figure out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to mix up your routine a little to test your body’s response to a two-a-day schedule. And no matter how many times each day you’re running, don’t forget to enjoy it!