Running a Double

Mileage is an individual thing.  I am a strong believer that you should not compare yourself to others or judge what others are doing, and I even think comparing yourself to your own self can be dangerous at times (like when you are coming back from injury or from a long break from running).  There are a lot of ways that we can improve as runners, and one of those ways CAN be to run more miles — if our bodies respond well to the increases and if we can realistically fit the extra miles into our busy schedules.

Last year when I was training for my fall marathon, I peaked at just under 50 miles.  In the winter when training for my spring marathon, I increased that and built up to 64 miles.  This summer/fall I have already had several weeks at right around 70 miles and my plan has me reaching 80 miles before I start my taper.  It is always changing though, and I will only go that high if my body continues to respond well to it.  And if I’m able to fit it in while balancing the other priorities in my life.

In the spring when I peaked at 64 miles, I remember thinking about this summer and wondering how I could possibly run more miles than that.  It seemed so overwhelming to me and I wasn’t sure I would even try to pull it off because I knew what I would have to do – I would have to start incorporating one or two double days into my routine.  I love running with the honey badgers in the early morning, but I have to be home in time for my husband to get to work and for me to get myself and three small children ready for the day, which means really the most miles I can fit in a weekday morning run is right around 10.  Now that I am running more than 70 miles a week I have to put one or two doubles on my schedule.  I wasn’t sure how I would pull it off, but I decided to take it nice and slow, and ease into it.  I’ve been doing it for a while now and I’ve come to realize that I actually really love my double days.

Here are some things I have learned about running doubles:

** Think of the second run of the day as a recovery run.  Keep the mileage lower and the pace slower.  The second run is a chance to flush the lactic acid out of your legs and to keep yourself loose.  If you PUSH on that second run you will wake up the next day feeling tight and unable to continue with solid training.  Remember that every run has a purpose and it needs to be honored – do not treat this second run of the day like “junk miles” – this run has a purpose beyond just the numbers and can help to make you a stronger, smarter runner.  That being said, if you decide to make your first run of the day easy, that doesn’t mean you can’t push for your second run — a good rule of thumb is to just make sure that you are not doing two hard runs back-to-back.

first run of the day – with the honey badgers!

** Find someone to run with.  Maybe it is someone you don’t usually get to run with – a good friend you want to catch up with or someone you don’t usually get to run with.  Yesterday I had so much fun running my second run of the day with a dear friend of mine who I rarely get to spend time with these days.  It was beyond wonderful to catch up with her as we ran an easy, conversational pace while I pushed baby Gus.

sweaty time with a bestie

Or maybe you can find a group to run with in the evening for that second run.  This week on Monday I ran 10 miles early in the morning with the honey badgers and then in the evening I ran an easy 3.5 miles with run club.  A lot of local groups have week night runs and some are even followed by happy hours!  Here in and around my town of Reston there are SO many groups!  The Reston Runners, Potomac River Running Store, Eastern Mountain Sports and of course my lululemon/Reston Pilates run club are just some that come to mind — there is a run almost every single night of the week!  It’s a great chance to get those miles in while also making new friends in the process.

** Make plans, but be prepared to change them.  At the beginning of this training cycle I mapped out a plan for myself, knowing that I wanted to increase my mileage to a new personal high and that I would need to do so safely and realistically.  Each week though, I tweak the plan.  Every. single. week.  Usually on Sunday night I take a look at the week ahead and at my family’s schedule – and I sketch out a plan of attack.  I almost always have to move things around a little even as the week progresses though.  For example this week I was not initially planning to run a double on Friday, but when my friend asked if I would run a few miles with her I didn’t want to pass that up!  So I took a few miles off of Saturday and added them to Friday instead.  This way I was sure to keep my weekly mileage according to plan while not missing out on a run with my good friend.

** Always remember the big picture, and why you are doing this in the first place!  Running more miles is most likely NOT the most important thing, and you may find that when you add miles to a day, you need to take them out of a planned run for later in the week in order to keep yourself feeling fresh and ready for what’s next (like I decided to do this week).  Do not increase your mileage too much in one week or you could risk getting injured or feeling too fatigued to keep up with your training.  The big picture should always be the most important thing – and in my opinion one run or race is never worth sacrificing your overall health.  If my body is telling me to ease up, I WILL.  That’s all there is to it.  Running makes me happy and helps me feel balanced – I want to be able to keep it a regular part of the way I live my life!

one of my goals – keep my feet moving in my shoes — FOR LIFE

Do you or have you ever run doubles as part of your training plan?  Have any tips for us on the best ways to fit them in and make them an effective training tool?

Also, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for an Endorphin Warrior Training Bracelet!  Contest ends in less than a week!  Click here to enter.

13 thoughts on “Running a Double

  1. Great tips! My husband and I have run doubles a few times, but usually it is 12 hours apart. Sometimes we would also run in the evening and then the next morning (actually the rest of my marathon training will do that because of my work schedule). We did it to train for a 77.7 mile relay that had us running 3 legs in one day.

  2. Such a great post, Jessica; thank you so much for sharing it. I loved the part about remembering to honour your runs – it was just what I needed to hear. I often get so caught up in making every run “count” that I forget about the intention I created when I put on my shoes in the first place. It's okay to actually recover on your recovery runs (I might need to put this on a post it note over my Garmin)

    Have a beautiful weekend and lots of stunning, sweaty miles.


  3. I've never gotten into very high mileage but want to try this year. Every now and then I'll do two runs but it's usually just a few miles added on to the end of my day doing a playground run. So as you suggested, I treat it like a recovery run. I go much, much slower (pushing the jogger helps with that!). I'm looking forward to reading about your training and mileage goals!

  4. What a great way to fit in more miles. This marathon training cycle, I was not able to get into the 50's at all. The idea of 60 or 70 miles seems impossible to me. I am running two marathons in the spring (including Boston) and might try to incorporate doubles. I really need to find running partners in my new town!!

    Thanks for the post.

  5. I love my double days, especially in the hot summer month's. I have thyroid disease and am unable to control my body temp. so running in the peak of the day just doesn't work for me ( I can do it, but I just crash and burn) . I have found that breaking them up works wonders and, I get all of my miles in. I wish I had running partners here!!!! I'm so lonely on my long runs and you can't escape the hills, would be so great to have someone along to motivate.

  6. Love this post!!! I am a HUGE fan of 2-a-days – and follow exactly what you said!!!
    Your mileage this training cycle is crazy awesome!! I am constantly amazed at how you juggle being a mom with all the running, groups, etc that you do!!!

  7. I`m far from running doubles but love the tips regardless! I am taking it easy adding some miles whenever I feel like it`s right but I know with studying full-tyme and maybe a Marathon plan sometime it might be the way to go for me, too.
    Also, sometimes I do a few minutes of running the evening of my long runs to shake out my tired legs. I think that really helps.

  8. That's great it's working for you! No wonder you've really dropped your times these past few months.

    Doubles would absolutely not work for my lifestyle, unfortunately. My husband and oldest son are both swimmers and practice during the weekday evenings: 4:45-7:00 (long practices!) I have to make do with the morning shift and am on kid duty when my husband gets home from work.

    Maybe someday when the kids are older!

  9. What a cool way to get in more miles. I just need to convince myself to roll out of bed in the morning! Night runs are always easier for me to squeeze in — so maybe my morning could be my recovery? Hmmm…

  10. Thank you for sharing such good information here! As you know I am planning to up my mileage this winter and I definitely am willing to take all of the tips I can get! Keep 'em coming' 🙂

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