Should you run twice a day? What are the benefits and drawbacks of running doubles? As a running coach since 2012, but a runner since 2002, I’m here to give you the low down so you can train in away that’s best for you.
When you’re trying to increase mileage the idea of running twice a day sounds both appealing and horrible. It can be a great tool when used appropriately and a recipe for disaster if you do it too frequently or with the wrong intention.
There’s a difference between doing a double and splitting up your long run.
Today we’re talking specifically about running twice in a day that’s not related to your long run.
As a running coach, I’ve guided runners on how to run twice a day, why they should do it, and what to watch out for when they do.
Running twice a day, or running doubles, is more than just to boost your mileage, it’s about the overall training effects.
In this article, you’ll learn why you should run twice a day, how to incorporate them into your training routine, and what you need to be careful of.
Why Run Twice A Day?
Will running twice a day do anything? Running twice a day will slowly add mileage to your week with a little less stress on the body. It’s a very useful tool for those who are injury prone or crazy busy, but determined to run a marathon!
Building endurance and increasing your total miles is a key to success for reaching that next PR. There’s a reason elite runners put in over 100 miles a week…it works.
Here are a few reasons to run twice a day:
- If your run is just not going well and you’ve tried all the mental tricks, but need to stop…stop. Then give yourself the option to try it again later.
- If you’re marathon or half maration training, instead of running 7 days a week, you can run 5 days with 2 doubles in your training schedule. Still giving yourself COMPLETE recovery days to maximize impacts of training.
- Adding a second run of 1-2 miles once or twice a week is a gradual way to increase mileage
- Breaking your weekly long run in to two can allow you to go farther in total on the day. Plus 2 runs of 6 and 4 miles are easier on the body than 10 miles straight through.
- Running easy in the morning and then doing a short hard session in the evening allows you to really keep easy, easy and hard hard
Is Running Twice a Day Good?
Running twice a day can be a great tool to build your mileage. We’ll dive in to exactly how to do that below.
If, however, you’ve found yourself running twice a day for weight loss, I encourage you to put the kabash on that and go add some weights to your training regimen.
Strength training and running as a combo are going to be far more effective than two a days running for fat loss, and running more isn’t a substitute for a strength training session.
Should You Run Twice a Day?
Whether or not you should consider running twice a day depends on what level of runner you are currently and what your running goals are.
You’ll also have to think about how much time you have available in your daily routine. You’ll also need to consider time for recovery, too.
But if you have the opportunity to run twice a day, there are many incredible benefits you could take advantage of.
How Many Times a Day Should You Run?
On a normal day you should only run once a day. And in a given week, probably 4-5 days of single runs for most runners.
Again, it depends on your goals, but most runners (even the professionals!) benefit from having enough energy to put towards strength training and time to put in to recovery so that they can actually improve their performance.
If you aren’t able to go hard on your speed work days or feel like garbage on most runs, then you aren’t moving towards your goal of a Personal Record or better endurance.
What Happens When You Run Twice a Day?
When you run twice a day, you’re reducing the time between sessions, which teaches your body to run on tired legs and to work through fatigue. Improving your total recovery time is part of this process as you also focus on what you do post run from the stretches to the nutrition!
At first since your body is not used to the extra effort it may feel difficult. Which is why like everything else in running, this is a slow and gradual process.
However, the good news is that your body will learn to utilize its mitochondria more effectively, resulting in less muscle fatigue. Now we’re talking!
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells. They make most of the chemical energy needed to start and fuel the biochemical reactions that happen inside our cells.
Apart from this, when you run more than once every day, your enzyme activity increases. These enzyme activities are important for a lot of things in our bodies, like building muscles, digesting food, and getting rid of waste and toxins.
Benefits of Running Twice a Day
Running twice a day comes with a bunch of benefits, which shows why it’s so popular amongst elite athletes. Here are the advantages of running doubles:
1. Helps Increase Mileage
If you want to increase your weekly mileage, adding a second run one or two days a week will allow you to do so without needing to extend your long runs.
If you want to build up your endurance, it’s tempting to look for shortcuts, but there’s no better way than to run a lot of miles. Double runs let you do this without giving up a rest day.
2. Gives You an Opportunity to Run at a Faster Pace
Running twice a day allows you to have an opportunity to change your running pace and style between runs. This is particularly useful when you want to try doing a speed workout but can’t seem to set a particular day for it.
You do then try to do some speed work such as a fartlek or interval training in the morning, and go for your long run in the evening or vice versa.
3. Enhances Training Adaptation
If you double your runs you will burn more glycogen, and your body will need to adjust to this new state. You’ll also burn more fat, and your body will become better at using your glycogen stores.
Running in this glycogen depleted state, in turn, enhances and improves training adaption.
You will be able to recover more quickly, and over time, your tolerance for fatigue will improve. As you increase your frequency of aerobic exercise, your lungs and heart will grow stronger, improving your overall fitness level.
4. Allows for More Efficient Recovery
Running twice a day gives you an opportunity to go for an easy run, which is meant to facilitate recovery. The less demanding runs will aid in increasing blood flow to your muscles, giving your cells the oxygen, they want to recover.
By increasing the frequency at which your muscles get more oxygen, blood flow, and nutrients, you’ll recovery faster and more efficiently.
Disadvantages of Running Twice a Day
As we just saw above, there are many incredible advantages of running twice a day but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things to watch out for when running doubles.
Here are the things you need to be careful of when running twice a day:
1. May Hinder Recovery
While running twice a day may result in faster recovery periods, it may also result in greater fatigue. This may make it harder to complete the second run, or even the next day’s run, at the desired pace or planned distance.
It’s, therefore, important to find the right balance to allow for proper recovery between runs.
2. May Increase Injuries Due to Overtraining
There’s a fine balance between running twice a day and overtraining. Finding the balance between the two is essential to make sure you don’t increase the risk of injuries due to overtraining.
3. May Be Difficult to Schedule
Running twice a day may require a bigger time commitment which can be difficult for some runners. This can result in issues maintaining a running schedule and may cause additional stress.
How to Do Double Run Days?
In general, double runs are better suited for more experienced runners but less experienced, beginner runners can benefit from them when used correctly.
Here’s a great way to get started with your first double run:
- Start by only adding 1 double day to your schedule (think of the 10% rule in running)
- Refuel after your first run
- Sip electrolytes all day long
- Grab a pre-run snack before your second run
- Give yourself at least 4-6 hours between the runs, more if you can to optimize recovery time. Less time is ok when both runs are easy, more time when one run is a workout.
- NEVER skimp on recovery if you are in the process of adding miles or adding workouts.
You may also start with adding a second run on an easy day, then adding it on days with a medium, steady run.
Although the order in which you run is not so important, it’s good to understand how the order will affect your body.
Running an easier run first will prepare your body for the subsequent harder effort, making it simpler to adjust to running twice a day. Doing an easier run last, on the other hand, will aid in muscle recovery.
As long as they’re done carefully, second runs can be added in several different ways depending on your goals, preferences, and circumstances.
Other Things to Consider When Running Doubles
Nutrition and Hydration
One of the keys to running twice a day is that you MUST stay on top of hydration and nutrition for the entire day.
Rest and Sleep
You need to fully recover from the first session, allowing you to maximize the benefits of the second session.
You should also make sure you get enough sleep so you don’t exhaust yourself by running twice a day. It’s essential that recovery days are truly off days so your body can recover fully.
Although there are no specific rules on timing your double runs, it’s best to wait at least five hours between runs, or even longer.
Shorter time intervals between runs don’t provide the body with the time to recover properly for the second run. On the other hand, longer time intervals result in diminishing returns on the advantages of running twice a day.
Finding the right balance between your runs is essential to making the most use of double runs.
Pre-Run and Post Run Stretches
When adding second runs to your routine, it becomes even more important to include warm-ups before every run such as dynamic stretches, and also cool downs such as post-run stretches to avoid injuries and minimize muscle soreness.
Next up is the idea of doing a triple workout day.
Where does that fit in to training? For a lot of top performers it can look like a morning run followed by strength training, then a lot of rest and an evening session.
For Ultrarunners it could look like a double day and then a long run the next day, so it’s not technically 3 runs in the same day, but 3 runs that are all within 36 hours of each other. This is MUCH easier on the body than doing a 50 mile training run and yet still gives you a lot of adaptations from running while tired.
If you’re considering running twice a day, I hope this helped you understand how to correctly do double run days and see if it’s right for you.
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