Running once a day probably feels quite sufficient for most runners, who may find the idea of running twice a day unnecessary and perhaps even a bit foolhardy.
Running twice a day – or Double Runs – however, is not just for elite runners and can actually be quite beneficial if integrated correctly.
In this article, we will discuss:
- The Pros and Cons of Double Runs
- How To Incorporate Double Runs Into Your Routine
- Possible Weight Loss Benefits of Double Runs
Curious about double runs?
Let’s jump in!
The Pros and Cons of Double Runs
6 Pros Of Running Twice a Day
#1 Help Increase Your Mileage
If you are trying to increase your weekly mileage, adding a second run one or two days a week will help you add miles without having to make your long runs even longer.
While it’s tempting to look for shortcuts to improved endurance, there really is no substitute for simply putting in the miles, and double runs allow you to do so without sacrificing a rest day.
#2 Promote Delayed Fatigue And More Efficient Recovery
Running twice a day forces your body to adapt and use your glycogen reserves more efficiently, which, if done consistently, will result in delayed fatigue.
A second run will also increase blood flow to the muscles, which will result in faster recovery.
These types of adaptations can ultimately lead to improved running fitness.
#3 Allow A Faster Pace
Breaking a longer run into two shorter runs will allow you to cover those miles at a faster pace.
The pace you would maintain for a six-miler, for example, is likely slower than the pace you could maintain for two three-milers.
Therefore, if getting faster is a goal, doing two shorter, but faster, runs may be helpful.
#4 Help You Learn To Run On Tired Legs
Your legs will be tired on the second run of the day, forcing your body to adapt to running while feeling less than fresh and fully rested.
You may also feel tired mentally and will need to develop strategies to keep yourself focused and motivated for your second run.
These adaptations and skills will be useful when racing, particularly during the last few miles when you are physically and mentally exhausted.
#5 May Be Easier To Schedule
Long runs often take up a significant amount of time and may be difficult to squeeze in around other obligations, but shorter runs may be easier to incorporate into your day.
While finding time for a two-hour run may seem impossible, for example, getting out for an hour run before work and an hour run after work may feel more do-able.
#6 May Be Easier To Manage Mentally
Even if scheduling a long run isn’t a problem, you may be unenthusiastic, or even a bit anxious, about tackling longer runs. In this situation, breaking a longer run up into two shorter runs may help make the miles feel less monotonous and stressful.
This trick may therefore make it more likely you will do your runs and may also make them more enjoyable.
5 Cons Of Running Twice a Day
#1 May Not Promote Endurance For Newer Runners
For newer runners who are working on improving their aerobic endurance, there really is no substitute for including a gradually longer long run every week.
That is, to increase your endurance, you must run longer distances, and exchanging a long run for two shorter runs will not be as helpful in promoting aerobic improvement.
#2 May Hinder Recovery
While running twice a day may lead to improved recovery times, it may also result in increased fatigue that makes it difficult to run the second run, or even the following day’s run, at the desired pace or for the planned distance.
In this situation, double runs may actually result in decreased speed or endurance.
#3 May Lead To Burn Out
Runners may find that running twice a day is mentally draining.
Instead of enjoying the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a morning run, for example, a runner may be so focused on the second run that some of the mental benefits of running may be lost.
Running twice a day may also feel burdensome, which can result in less satisfaction with running overall and even overtraining.
#4 May Lead to Injury
Common sense suggests that increasing the frequency or intensity of runs may lead to injury, or exacerbate a previous injury.
Therefore, running double runs could potentially be problematic from this standpoint.
#5 May Be Difficult To Schedule
Some runners may find two shorter runs are easier to fit into the day than one longer run, but other runners may find that carving out time for two runs, no matter how long they are, nearly impossible.
In this situation, the stress of trying to add a second run may outweigh the benefits.
How To Add Double Runs Into Your Routine
In general, double runs are better suited for seasoned runners who have been averaging at least 50 miles per week for several years, but less experienced runners can also try adding a second run once a week if they follow these guidelines.
If trying double runs sounds intriguing, keep reading to find out how to incorporate them into your running routine.
For experienced runners:
As suggested by Lisa Marshall for Runner’s World, experienced runners may want to try adding a second run on a day with a harder workout.
She states the second run should be shorter, but still intense, such as three-mile repeats at a faster than tempo pace in the evening after a tempo run in the morning, or hill repeats after a speed session earlier in the day.
On the other hand, Jeff Gaudette, a coach with RunnersConnect, recommends first trying a second run on an easy day, and then consider adding them on days with a medium, steady run, then to a day with a tempo run or cruise intervals, and finally, to days with a speed workout.
Gaudette believes the order of the runs is not important but does note that doing an easier run first will get your body ready for your subsequent harder effort, while doing the easier run last will help aid in muscle recovery.
The bottom line for experience runners is that there are many ways to incorporate double runs, and as long as done carefully, second runs can be added in a variety of ways based on circumstances, goals, and preferences.
For less experienced runners:
Less experienced runners can still try double runs, but should generally not do more than one double run per week and should consider just adding a short, easy run — perhaps 20 to 30 minutes at conversational pace — to an existing training schedule or dividing a mid-week medium-length run into two separate runs.
For these runners, it is important to maintain the weekly long run, as well as any other key workouts such as tempo runs or speed sessions, as these workouts are necessary for improved endurance and speed.
Other Factors To Consider:
Fuel and Sleep
Running twice a day can be taxing on the body, so if you decide to try double runs, you should be sure you are getting enough calories to fuel these runs and enough sleep to adequately recover from them.
Without sufficient nutrients and rest, double runs can wind up wearing you down more than they are building you up.
Although there are no hard and fast rules for the timing of double runs, most experts agree it is best to wait at least five hours between runs, and, optimally, a bit longer, in the seven to nine hour range.
Shorter times between runs do not allow the body adequate time to recover sufficiently for the second run, and longer time results in diminishing returns on the benefits of double runs.
Warm-ups, Cool Downs, and Recovery/Rest Days
When adding second runs to your routine, it becomes even more important to include a warm-up before every run and at least a short cool down after every run in order to avoid injuries and minimize muscle soreness.
In order to avoid overtraining, it is also important to maintain recovery days and truly rest on your “off” days.
Runners have long been advised to avoid increasing their weekly mileage by more than ten percent per week, and this rule holds true when adding double runs.
Therefore, while adding a second run to a day is a good way to increase mileage, that increase should still be gradual in order to avoid injury or other overtraining problems.
Be Flexible and Cut Back If Necessary
While you may want to embrace double runs, if you are struggling to get through your runs, are having difficulty maintaining previous paces, or are just feeling extra tired or sluggish, be willing to make adjustments.
You may want to either eliminate your second runs altogether or make the second run shorter or at an easier pace. Once you’re feeling better, you can try adding a second run again, but be flexible if you notice diminishing returns on your efforts.
Running Twice a Day for Weight Loss?
With double runs, your body goes through two periods of increased resting metabolic rate, which may help with weight loss.
As Marshall notes, if you run twice a day, you will experience two post-run spikes in your resting metabolic rate, which could be helpful if you are trying to shed some pounds.
Running twice a day may also simply help you burn more calories and therefore aid in creating a calorie deficit.
As it is important to take in sufficient calories to fuel your double runs, however, maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss can be somewhat tricky, and consultation with a knowledgeable coach or nutritionist may be helpful.
Consider Doing A Double
With the factors discussed in this article in mind, why not try adding a second run to your training schedule and see how it goes?
You may be thrilled to find that double runs not only help you progress as a runner but also give you more flexibility as you plan your runs.