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Two A Day Running for Beginners

04 June


Once you get over the initial fear of running and running long, most beginner runners fall head over heels (yes, pun intended!) for the sport. But like anything else, too much running can be less than ideal. Here’s how you can channel your newfound passion for running into improved fitness and results without risking injury.

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The Transformation

Former friends are baffled to find the same girl who wouldn’t run for a cab in the rain suddenly not partying until 2am because of a long run the next morning. And next weekend there’s a race. And the weekend after that there’s a relay run that involves a full team of runner, multiple vans, etc. And…well, you get the idea.

Falling in love with running is awesome. It’s not just about running, however. It’s about overall wellness, physical fitness, and endorphins. It’s about breaking down barriers that once seemed insurmountable. It’s about redefining who you are…now, you are a RUNNER.

Zero to Running Twice A Day

Your innocent hobby for run
ning takes an interesting turn once you complete your first race. Once there are a few numbers after your name in the results column, you will most likely feel the pull to improve. Turning to the pages of your favorite running publication, you’ll find countless stories of elites and age groupers alike putting up serious miles day after day.

It’s clear that they aren’t running back-to-back-to-back 20-milers; instead they are doing multiple runs a week. So you sign on, adding more miles to your existing schedule. Before you know it you are stacking lunch runs with evening track workouts, backing up morning long workouts with afternoon “recovery” jogs. It’s game on!

Top Three Two-A-Day Mistakes

You enthusiasm for improvement overshadows the tiny, non-endorphin driven part of your brain that is concerned about what could happen. In fact while the miles go up quickly, more often than not your enthusiasm for running will take a dip, as too will your ability to recover between sessions. Here are top mistakes that beginner runner’s make when it comes to running twice a day:

Stacking Too Many Miles

Running two a days is easy…just add more! Beginner Bobby goes from 30 miles a week to 45 the next, simply by adding three 5-milers to his evening schedule (if not more!). When the short-term fitness gains wear off, Bobby will literally slow down from ramping up too quickly.

Inadequate Recovery Time

What’s another few runs? Well, adding morning runs to your packed schedule means reduced sleep and, more importantly, less recovery time between runs. Now simply putting 24 hours between sessions won’t be enough. Bobby needs to literally map things out so that quality runs such as intervals or track workouts have adequate rest both before and after.

No Warm Up Time

Feeling loose — and pressed for time — Bobby jumps from the front step of his porch right into that day’s interval session. After all, he has to keep up the hard sessions even though he’e just boosted his weekly mileage 150%, right? What’s fine to do early in the Two-A-Day stage quickly turns to sub-par workouts and potentially an overuse injury. Bobby has just learned that running more, strangely enough, means that more time must be spent on getting ready for any hard sets.

What The Pros Don’t Tell You

But you don’t have to be like Bobby. Instead of just looking at the weekly totals for what these elites are doing, a deeper review shows that these folks are doing much more than just running.

  • They are napping during the day between sessions; odds are you are actually working!
  • They have advanced recovery equipment and multiple massages a week; you are lucky to be able to choke down a recovery shake in the shower before you dash to your next commitment.
  • They get daily input on each and every workout; you only download your data if your watch tells you it’s full.
  • They have planned meals designed specifically for each training phase.
  • They have access to trails, tracks, hills and other ideal conditions.

The list goes on and on…but not all is lost. With proper planning, you can take advantage of the longer days of Summer to reap the benefits of Two-A-Day sessions.

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How To Run Two-A-Days Like A Professional

#1 – Start With Your Existing Mileage.

Instead of ramping up, take the total miles you run each week and schedule in one or two additional runs by modifying the current distance you are already running. This will mean reducing the distance of some of your runs.

#2 – Take Baby Steps.

Pick a weekend day that you can run twice on, and split your current run for that day. If you are training for a marathon or half marathon, you can split that long run. Test this for at least three weeks before adding another “double” day to your calendar. Move to two sessions a week for two weeks, and by week five you can have up to three double sessions a week.

Read More on How to Split Your Long Run

#3 – Quality First, Recovery Second.

Aim to do your “best” session of the day first, when you are freshest. The second run of your day can be an extension of that workout, either focusing on endurance or perhaps it’s a recovery run entirely devoted to technique.

#4 – Alternate for Improved Recovery.

After you have a quality session, whether it’s on the track or a longer run in preparation for a marathon, you will need to recover. Any runs after that quality session — and before the next one — should be entirely focused on recovery. This means an easy effort; you should be able to maintain a conversation at this pace.

After a few weeks of double running as outlined above, you’ll have the experience and fitness to begin adjusting your schedule for a more advanced approach. This could involve adding a second long run to your week or completing negative-split days where the second session is the more intense.

Remember, the initial goal here is to reap the benefits of increased running frequency. Once that has come around, the sky is the limit. Good luck!

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One Response to “Two A Day Running for Beginners”

  1. Jake August 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Great post! I bookmarked your site so I’ll be back again when I have more time.