Football players might be used to doing two workouts in a day, but runners and athletes in all sports can also pick up — and benefit from — the practice. Running more than once a day may seem more efficient if you’ve got a hectic schedule and might have to skip a run or two during the week. However, if you don’t prepare for the practice correctly, it can result in injury or fatigue — and ultimately missing out on workouts anyway.
Before you decide to do more than one run in a day, there are a few crucial things to consider from the type of runner you are to how much mileage you can run at once. Here’s everything runners should know about two-a-days.
HOW TWO-A-DAYS WORK
Doing two runs in one day isn’t just for professional or elite athletes, amateur runners can also benefit. However, beginners should not adopt the method without building a strong base first.
“Really, two-a-days can be incorporated into a training plan at any time. However, I like to build people up on one-a-day running prior to adding two-a-days,” explains Ryan Bolton, owner and founder of Bolton Endurance Sports Training (BEST). “Then, two-a-days can gradually be added to increase volume and to add specificity to training.”
Bolton notes that the term “junk miles” has been used to describe two-a-days in the the past by coaches, but if you incorporate them appropriately, that’s not the case. Athletes looking to boost their weekly mileage — often training for a long-distance race — are the most likely to add a second run to their training.
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“For more experienced runners, two-a-days could be a good way to increase their weekly mileage by adding a second run once or twice a week,” adds Gary Schancer, exercise physiologist, RRCA-certified running coach and organizer for Albuquerque Fit. “Even they need to make sure they don’t overdo it, so twice a week is about the most I would recommend.”
THE DOWNSIDE TO THE TRAINING METHOD
Bolton notes that most studies on the practice show there are physiological benefits. So it’s important to know that while some runners will benefit from a second run during the day, others may get injured.
“I would never recommend two-a-days to beginners; their muscles and bones are not strong enough to handle running twice a day,” advises Schancer. “Their first run breaks down the muscles and then with some rest, the muscles will recover and get stronger. If they do another run that same day, the muscles have not recovered and they would be setting themselves up for injuries.”
Bolton agrees that runners who are only working out up to four times a week for less than 45 minutes or those who are injury-prone shouldn’t do two-a-days.
“With injury-prone athletes specifically, the overall volume of training will be too low to necessitate two runs per day,” he echoes. “The negatives of adding the two a day may outweigh the positives.”
BEFORE YOU TRY IT
When you decide to add two-a-days to your schedule, it is important to allocate enough time for the practice. Understand you not only need time for the workout but also for the extra planning as well as a proper warmup and cooldown, since those are crucial. In this case, Schancer warns that two-a-days could take the fun out of running if the athlete does not have adequate time to dedicate to the process.
Additionally, know that two-a-days should not be a substitute for a long run. If you are training for half- or full-marathon, your body still needs to experience running for a few hours in a row.
“I wouldn’t split the long run into two separate runs,” mentions Bolton. “The body needs to endure the pounding and experience the metabolic challenges of the long run to replicate race conditions; this is particularly true for marathon training.”
If you are prepared to put in the extra time and don’t use your second run as a substitute for a key workout in your training plan, two-a-days may help you become a stronger runner as you work toward a long-distance race goal.
Photo Credit: @kymnonstop
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN