Interesting article about running twice daily

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This topic contains 29 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  timmins 9 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #10730

    rehammes
    Member

    The Nov/Dec issue of Marathon and Beyond has a pretty interesting article regarding two-a-days.  The research they have cited shows little performance benefit of running twice daily which I found surprising.  I was wondering if anyone else had read this, or what people think about the practice of two-a-days in general.  I don't run the kind of mileage that would make two-a-days a sensible option, but if I did, I think Pfitzinger makes a lot of sense, 'don't do double workouts until you have maximized the amount you can handle in single workouts.'  I am clearly no where near that level.  Any thoughts….

  • #26676

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I haven't read the article but, depending on how the research was done, the results wouldn't surprise me. The Pfitz quote is key. Maximize your one a day training, then two a days will hold some benefit. Running twice a day just to run twice a day, when you haven't fully maximized your gains from that first run, won't do you much good.

    In my experience, two a days can be very beneficial. However, a lot of people seem to do them just to do them without thinking of how best to do them in order to maximize the training benefit. This is where the problem comes in. Often, people actually take away from the benefit of the primary run in order to get in that second run, which could even be detrimental.

    This might be an interesting topic for an article of my own…

  • #26677

    GTF
    Member

    Given the subject line, a link to the relevant article was anticipated within!

    As with many other variables in training, the short answer is: it depends.

    It has to do with both goals and with the realities dictated by one's choices in life, and even possibly health issues.  Whatever the 'research' may indicate, for getting into great shape ASAP doubles are the way to go.  Coach Mark Wetmore has his CU runners, as a rule, run singles because he wants to allow them the time and energy to be dedicated to their studies and to campus life as well-rounded individuals while still getting the most that they can out of their training sessions.  I know that Pfitzinger and Liquori & Parker, Jr. do not recommend doubles for volumes below 70 miles/week (more or less), yet I also know that their advice does not reflect the way they trained and that the core market of buyers for their books is not made of people who would likely be as into running (at least initially) as they were and want to train the way they trained.  It is also a blanket statement that fails to take into account the variables referenced above. 

    Suppose runner x is plugging away at 40-50 miles/week all year and cannot figure out why after huge gains in his first few marathons he is having trouble whittling away at the last 20 minutes between him and a BQ.  Also suppose that he is doing that 40-50 miles/week in the hour he can fit in before work each weekday and in the three-hour window he can fit in on Sundays.  Additionally suppose that his employer allows him an hour lunch each day yet would let it stretch to 90 minutes if he either came in 30 minutes early or stayed 30 minutes later in the evening or came in for 4 hours on Saturdays.  On top of all that suppose that his theoretical s.o. goes to cardiyogalatespin at the Y 2-3 times a week in the evenings and could even take any theoretical dependants along and get them some playtime at the Y while she is there.  So runner x, despite being ingrained in running five times a week within an hour window and then once a week within a three-hour window, could have a lot more flexibility to add volume (and spread that volume out more evenly) to his training if only he inquired with his support network and took advantage of opportunities that might be available.  He could be keeping the morning runs 2-3 (if not 5) days of the week, picking up five midday runs, and possibly adding 2-3 evening runs in addition to pulling the longest run back within reason – either as a lower duration or as a lower percentage amid the added volume on the other six days of the week – and adding a run on the other weekend day to get to a training volume that would really let him approach his physical potential.  Even if he just added 30'-45' daily midday runs to the hour morning run routine he would be doing himself a huge favor. 

    Often it is not simply a matter of extending the runs within the existing training regimen to get up to whatever maximal amount one could do in singles, it is more a matter of creatively using the available free time within one's usual daily routine.  Many are simply not in a position to “maximize the training benefit” in the most ideal manner so it is more about choosing among different compromises.  At the level of the typical running magazine reader and running forum commentator, it is something of an exotic topic.  It would be akin to reading about how to get the best performance out of Ferraris and Vipers when one is a lifelong Accord driver.  Not that one should not aspire to drive a Ferrari, just that there are more essential basics to master on the way to good driving performance within the constraints present in an Accord before worrying about nuances of nimble handling and fuel injection timing.  Sort of like the “central governor theory.”  That would be something to be concerned with once one is absolutely certain that one has already plateaued in performance through a mix of ideal volume, ideal workouts, and ideal recovery.  For many, being concerned about maxing out what could ideally be accomplished via singles before incorporating doubles overlooks the fact that running more is running more and is the basic avenue to improved fitness.  If sleep patterns and time slots to which one has obligated oneself will not allow large enough blocks of time to extend what can be accomplished with singles (within a smartly proportioned training routine) then by all means do not let that stop one from seeking out additional sufficiently large blocks and extend the overall volume with additional runs.

  • #26678

    rehammes
    Member

    Given the subject line, a link to the relevant article was anticipated within!

    Sorry about that, I was reading a hard copy, I don't know if the content is available online.

  • #26679

    rehammes
    Member

    It does not appear that I am able to link to their articles from the web site. 

    I was surprised that the studies did not result in better performances across the board.  After giving it a second thought, I should say that I think a program of two-a-days would work well for me.  I have a hard time putting in a workout first thing in the morning.  I think a short run to loosen up in the morning would be beneficial to the afternoon workout.  Also, if the time windows are available throughout the day, I don't think it could hurt to squeeze in a low impact run.  As this forum has revealed many times, different things work for everyone. 

    Sorry about not providing the article.  Marathon and Beyond is one of the better running periodicals I have read, up there with Running Times in my opinion.

  • #26680

    r-at-work
    Member

    … Often it is not simply a matter of extending the runs within the existing training regimen to get up to whatever maximal amount one could do in singles, it is more a matter of creatively using the available free time within one's usual daily routine.  Many are simply not in a position to “maximize the training benefit” in the most ideal manner so it is more about choosing among different compromises. 
    … For many, being concerned about doing doubles before maxing out what could ideally be accomplished via singles overlooks the fact that running more is running more and is the basic avenue to improved fitness.  If sleep patterns and time slots to which one has obligated oneself will not allow large enough blocks of time to extend what can be accomplished with singles (within a smartly proportioned training routine) then by all means do not let that stop one from seeking out additional sufficiently large blocks and extend the overall volume with additional runs.

    … thanks GTf for putting into words…it's my story almost to a tee…

    another consideration when you talk about the magic '70 mpw'… as slow as I run(even on a good day) I probably take as much TIME to put in 50 mpw as those doing 70 (in singles and thinking about doing doubles)… when I pushed it to 60 mpw (in 2006) by adding a few double days I did see an improvement, set all my PRs that year…but as an adult onset runner I was in that 'still improving for 7 years' window of seriously training (even though I had been jogging for 6 years or so before that)…

    plus didn't Lydiard suggest extra easy jogging miles on top of the miles of serious running, seems I remember something about that (which at the time made me tired just reading it)… but that is (I suppose) what my extra work out ended up being when I 'doubled'… here's the quote…
    -Rita
    from A.L. Training guide 1999, http://www.fitnesssports.com/lyd_clinic_guide/Arthur%20Lydiard.pdf

      I always tell runners that, “miles make the champions”, and that initially this grind of running all the
    mileage possible between the competitive seasons is of prime importance. The more miles that you are
    able to run aerobically in training, then the greater endurance you will be able to develop. So there is
    really
    no limit to the mileage that a coach should place upon his athletes, provided that the supplementary
    miles run above the required faster aerobic running are as easy effort at the lower aerobic speeds. In
    other
    words; it is wise to run once a day at faster aerobic speeds and supplementary to this running, to jog as
    many miles as you find time and energy for; even if it is only for fifteen minutes jaunt.

  • #26681

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    GTF, right. I glossed over the “maximal training benefit” of single runs comment a bit too much. To use myself as an example, I have about an hour to run during my lunch breaks (much like you stated, a required 60 minute lunch break with the flexibility to make it 90 minutes, which allows for time to change, shower, eat, etc.). That maximizes the training benefit, given my time limit, of those runs. Now, to improve my training, I'm left with only one choice. A run before or after work. It's not that making at least a couple of those 60 minute runs into 90 minute runs wouldn't offer benefit, it's that I don't have that option. I've maximized the benefit I can reach from those runs.

    Of course, if I was only running for 30 minutes during those lunch breaks and adding in another 30 minutes after work, that would be a waste. I'd be better off doing the whole 60 minutes in one shot. To me, maximizing the benefit of a run is not just doing what would be optimal regardless of circumstances. It's doing what is optimal given circumstances. In my case, it's the 90 minute lunch break. That's my limit. While I might benefit more from making those runs 80 minutes, it's not an option given the job I choose to stay at. Because of that, I've maximized the training benefit available with that run at 60 minutes. Now, to step up the training, I have to add in a second run on top of that 60 minute run.

    Rita, good point about thinking in terms of time rather than distance. While everyone talks in terms of distance, myself included, I actually prefer to think in terms of time. To be perfectly blunt, a 10 mile run for you is different than a 10 mile run for me. While I talk of my lunch hour runs being 9 miles, I chose 9 miles because, on the typical day, it will take me at least an hour to complete. On a very good day, it may take me less than an hour but that less than an hour will be at a relatively high intensity. I'm thinking about that one hour time, even though I'm talking about that 9 mile distance. For someone else, maybe that one hour number works out to 10 miles. For yet another, it might be 6 miles.

  • #26682

    GTF
    Member

    30 + 30 > 30 + 0
    30 + 60 > 30 + (0-30)
    30 + 60 > 60 + 0
    Etc.

    I also agree regarding using time rather than distance as the unit of measure.  I used miles/week in the example above simply because that is the common parlance.  I typically go by hours/week.  I cannot think of any context where I would need to know the distance I have run and get any use out of the data over what I get from going by time. 

  • #26683

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    30 + 30 > 30 + 0
    30 + 60 > 30 + (0-30)
    30 + 60 > 60 + 0
    Etc.

    Agreed. A couple to add:

    30 + 30 < 60 + 0
    30 + 40 ? 60 + 0 (I'd argue it depends at least partly on your goal race distance)

    I see some people doing 30 + 30 instead of 60 for some reason and some doing 30 + 40 instead of 60 because it gives them a bigger number, regardless of the benefit or lack thereof. These are the two a days that are little benefit at best, a detriment at worst.

  • #26684

    GTF
    Member

    The point of those numerical relationships was to point out that if there are two daily windows that maximally allow 30' runs then it is pointless to be concerned with what could be possible with a single 60' window and so forth.  If there is time enough to go 60 then why would anyone opt to go 40?  If there is time enough to go 60 at one point and 30 at another point then why would anyone not do both (as opposed to 40 & 30 or 60 & 0) if they have adequately built their training volume to that point?  Everyone who wants to do their best will work towards maximizing the volume within the windows of free time they have available.  It is doubtful that anyone who would be interested in running doubles would also be interested in training below what they and their schedule could handle.

  • #26685

    ed
    Participant

    This turned out to be an awesome topic and great discussion.  It is helping me focus on maximizing my one run of the day before even considering a second run.  I can devote about 80-90 minutes daily during the workweek, Saturday is unlimited, Sunday is a tough one.

    Until I can consistently fill those times I have no business trying to start any two a days.

  • #26686

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Agreed. Maximize one time window, then work on maximizing a second if it is available. This seems like common sense. However, I have encountered more people than I care to think of who don't do it that way. They focus too much on the numbers (that don't matter) rather than the results and would rather run for 70 minutes in two runs than go for a single 60 minute run first, then build up that second run. Believe it or not, there are people who do that simply because they think the bigger final number is always better.

    In my opinion, the two a day thing is simple. Maximize your first run, then add in a second and give the second all you can while still keeping the first at a maximal level. Taking away from the first just to get in a second isn't going to help.

  • #26687

    GTF
    Member

    Where have these people been encountered?  At the level I suspect applies here, it is doubtful that it would make an appreciable difference. 

  • #26688

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Various places online, a couple of which I'm sure you could guess (and I'm sure I could guess your response).

  • #26689

    runner1
    Member

    For the level almost every one of you guys are at there is no need for two a days either. I used to do two a days but realized it wasn't benefiting me either. Your workout days and tempo/marathon pace runs are what matter. I ran the same marathon times on 85-90 as when I  ran 50-55 per week. The key was run easy on the easy days and run your w/outs at the proper pace for your current level. Plenty of people race their w/outs and race no where near what their workouts are.  Some people take themselves too seriously for the level they are at. I actually find it humorous to read their discussions.

  • #26690

    GTF
    Member

    I did guess, in that final sentence, and you guessed correctly that I was guessing correctly.  8)

  • #26691

    GTF
    Member

    Your workout days and tempo/marathon pace runs are what matter.

    Of course, that is a given.

    I ran the same marathon times on 85-90 as when I  ran 50-55 per week. The key was run easy on the easy days and run your w/outs at the proper pace for your current level.

    So you did what is considered key and still saw no improvement in going from 50-55 to 85-90 for a significant duration of training?

  • #26692

    runner1
    Member

    You missed the point! I went from 85-90 down to 50-55. I realized the two a days were unneeded. Read the post again and it should make sense.

  • #26693

    GTF
    Member

    Apologies, the way it was written was vague.  As an anecdotal case intended to support a point, it is rather abbreviated.

  • #26694

    rehammes
    Member

    I believe the argument could be made that two a days make as much sense at 90 miles as they do at 50-55 miles.  At 90, you may finally be reaching that point where you are maximizing each day's workout.  I have no explanation for similar performances on substantially less miles, nor do I think it is pertinent to the discussion of the value of two a days.  In our short discussion here we have revealed that there is value in the practice when you have shorter time windows in the course of your day.  The additional mileage provided by the second run can only be a benefit to a runner looking to produce the best possible race preformance.  I think a disciplined runner would see real benefits on race day from a well structured two-a-day program.  My opinion.

  • #26695

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I could make a similar point. I saw very little decline in performance when dropping from 100-120 miles per week back to 60-80 miles per week. As a point of reference, over the past 3 years, at these lower levels, my fastest 5K times have only been 10-20 seconds off my best road times, run at the higher levels of training. Of course, that ignores the fact that I'm still running a minute or more faster than I was (on the roads) when I was training at 60-80 miles per week before bumping the volume up in the first place.

    As several people have pointed out to me over the years and I have pointed out to even more people, it's easier to maintain the fitness than it is to get it in the first place.

  • #26696

    rehammes
    Member

    I saw very little decline in performance when dropping from 100-120 miles per week back to 60-80 miles per week. As a point of reference, over the past 3 years, at these lower levels, my fastest 5K times have only been 10-20 seconds off my best road times, run at the higher levels of training.

    Would you say that your level of fitness would not be where it is without the previous high mileage training?  If so, would you say that the remainng 60-80 mpw would consist of 'quality miles' (more track, hill, fartlek, lt type work) versus the 7-14 miles runs that might exist soley for the sake of building fitness?  Just curious.

  • #26697

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Would you say that your level of fitness would not be where it is without the previous high mileage training?

    I have no doubt. I never would have made it where I have been or where I am now without that training in the past. Back when I was originally doing the kind of training I am now doing, I was doing all I could to run significantly slower times. That fitness gained through that higher level of training has been much easier to maintain than to obtain in the first place, though it still takes quite a bit of work of course.

    If so, would you say that the remainng 60-80 mpw would consist of 'quality miles' (more track, hill, fartlek, lt type work) versus the 7-14 miles runs that might exist soley for the sake of building fitness?  Just curious.

    Actually, what I have been doing recently greatly resembles what I was doing over a decade ago in terms of percentages of overall volume for different kinds of workouts. I'm sure there are some differences but I don't think they are all that great. What has probably changed more significantly would be the intensities of the various workouts. Having learned what I did while at higher levels of training, my easy days are easier and my hard days are harder than they used to be. That said, this change alone wouldn't have gotten me to where I am without that additional training. It's a benefit but there's no way that would have made the huge difference between where I was then and where I am now.

  • #26698

    timmins
    Member

    My opinion:

    Mileage for Mileage sake actually may pay off in the aerobic arena (I'm a lydiard fan)

    Maximize the time you have before doubles.  So if you have an hour, run an hour.

    There is a limit.  If you unemployeed and have the ability to run 2 to 2 and half hours a day, i still wouldnt.  Mark Wetmore (head coach of buffaloes, lydiard student) mixed the two theories of single training runs and high mileage, and i bealive this had alot to do with the injuries that came along in the book “running with the buffaloes”  I personally do not condone running very long singles over and over.  Even now doubles are more present in his training then before. 

    I think long singles have there place, but the stress they put on the body is comparable to a threshold run or intervals. (Intervals stress the energy systems/glycogen systems more, long runs stress the physical more)

  • #26699

    GTF
    Member

    While it is true that Wetmore's training ideas have evolved since 1998, he has not combined the “two theories of single training runs and high mileage.”  The injuries that came to so many Buffaloes were more a result of some combination of:

    • running too hard on easy days
    • racing workouts
    • poor nutritional choices in the absence of mom & dad serving the food

    In other words, basically stuff that the athlete controls, not the coach.  The same is true in about any top collegiate program, unfortunately.

  • #26700

    Double
    Member

    I believe most people can find 10 hours a week to train if they want to.  Sure, there are exceptions, but the people I know could find the time if the goal they wished to reach required this.  That's 60 – 85 a week.  More than most hobby joggers.

  • #26701

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    One thing I took from Running With the Buffaloes was that some of the runners got carried away with “best aerobic effort”. Off the top of my head, I don't recall if or how Wetmore approached his runners about that concept but I remember that these guys seemed to always be going out for 10-15 miles a day at fast paces. Again, maybe not Wetmore's fault as much as simply younger, highly competitive runners being a bit too competitive and not yet having the experience to know the importance of taking the edge off the daily efforts.

    Personally, I like the idea adopted by the Wisconsin program of “Badger miles” where the runners assume they are running 7:00 miles so, if they are heading out for a 10 mile run, they go for 70 minutes no matter how fast or slow they are going. If they run 6:00 miles, they are covering over 11 miles but it's going in the books as 10 miles at 7:00 pace anyway. Timmins, this is back to the idea you mentioned elsewhere of slowing down runners by telling them to run for a given amount of time instead of a given distance.

  • #26702

    timmins
    Member

    Running for time is golden when working with kids. 

  • #26703

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I was just thinking of what I would do if I was coaching a high school team (something I'd love to do some day when I can fit it into the rest of my schedule) and I'd definitely prefer to use time on easy days for high schoolers. To be able to say experienced runners, 45 minutes easy; less experienced, 30 minutes easy. I could still see guys trying to race each other but the temptation to run the same loop faster and faster each day could be taken away to some extent at least.

    Of course, another important thing I'd do is stress on every easy day something else you mentioned. Do you want to be fast on your easy runs or in your races? You can't have it both ways.

  • #26704

    timmins
    Member

    with time, in a good city atleast, you can send them in packs in any direction.  So usually i keep them off the same route for a week or two.  Even the most dedicated runners forget there times when you make them run 10 different courses.

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