Many elite runners do what’s known as “the double”. The double is when you run twice in one day–once in the morning and once in the evening. Sometimes the purpose of two runs is to gently increase mileage, other times it’s to shake the legs out either before or after a hard workout, and it can also help with injury prevention. But at what stage should someone introduce double runs and why?
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Brittany Moran is a coach, chiropractor and 2:36 marathoner who doesn’t double. She says that she’s usually able to fit her mileage in in one go, so she prefers to get her run done all at once.
While Moran doesn’t double, Sasha Gollish, a World Championship marathon competitor, says that she started doubling as she got older. “Two things happened, I started working and I found that my legs felt better with a second run.” Gollish explains that she doesn’t always have the time or flexibility to fit a 90-minute run in, so she’ll run 60 minutes in the morning and 30 in the evening.
But she does remind marathoners that the long run is crucial. “I don’t split up my dedicated long run, which I usually do on the weekend, but easy runs are fine to break up.” If it’s a workout day and Gollish is going to be on the track in the evening, she loves running in the morning. “I love the double on a workout day, particularly when we do workouts in the evening. I find a 20- or 30-minute run in the morning helps me have a better evening workout.”
Adding a double run to your training is highly situational, but it can be a great idea if a runner is trying to increase their mileage. Gollish says that her body doesn’t feel as bad from two runs, when compared to one. “If you’re trying to get mileage in without a ton of breakdown, try the double. This way your stress score isn’t crazy high from finishing the long miles all at once, so you can recover better and get ready for the big workouts.”
Another option for runners is an evening cross-train. If you’ve run in the morning and you’re feeling a little beat up, try an evening spin or elliptical for a similar training response, without all the pounding. Simply swap the minutes you would’ve spent running for minutes on the bike.