Running Twice A Day

by Alison

running twice a day

Is it okay to run twice in one day... say, one 2 mile run in the morning and a 4 mile run in the evening?

Is this okay for training for speed and endurance or does it harm my muscles?

Answer by Dominique:

Thank you for your question.
In principle there is nothing wrong with running twice a day.

I'll cover off on:

1. Reasons for running twice a day
2. Benefits and disadvantages of running twice a day
3. The hard/easy principle of training and applying it to running twice a day

Reasons for Running Twice a Day

running twice a day

To better answer the question and say whether running twice a day is the right decision for you, I'd like to know more about why you are running twice a day.

Are you currently running (pretty much) every day and this is the only way to get more mileage into your days?

Or is it a matter of having a busy schedule and only having the time for shorter runs, so you are trying to make up for it by running twice a day?

Are you only focusing on running, or are you getting in valuable benefits from other forms of training, e.g. strength training or cross-training?

Lastly, are you training for a specific race that requires a lot of mileage, like a marathon? Or are you running for fitness and health reasons only and is racing a secondary goal?

These are all considerations in setting up an ideal training program for you.

Friends of mine have cut up their mid-week long run in the midst of marathon training in two. Simply because of work / family commitments the only way they could fit in a 14 mile run during the week was to run some of it in the morning, then some of it at night.

That's ok; sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But let's get into some of the pros and cons of doing that.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Running Twice a Day

running twice a day

Benefits and disadvantages of running twice a day are:

1. Single runs are better for base building
As far as endurance and establishing a base is considered it is better to run six miles at once, than to break it up in a two-miler and a four-miler.

As a general rule it is better to add the extra mileage to your single run, than to break it up.

If it is your only option, then it might just be what you need to do. But generally speaking, covering the six miles in one go would produce a stronger benefit.

Clearly, if your choice is to only run 4 miles in one go, or 6 miles spread out over a morning and a night workout, running twice a day will generally be preferrable.

And for very high mileage runners there is a breaking-point where it is more beneficial to run twice a day to allow the body to recover more.

2. Shorter doubles allow faster training
Two fast three-milers are easier to "digest" than a fast six-miler. So, you may find that you can run faster in the shorter runs.

The question of specificity does come to mind though. What are you training for? How beneficial is it for you to run two faster short runs when you are training for longer distance events that require you to have time on your feet?

3. If doing them, add doubles gradually to your running program

Principle number one of running is / should be that you should increase mileage safely. Same with doubles. Start with a short additional second run and expand from there into longer second runs and/or more second runs.

The Hard/Easy Principle of Training and Applying it to Running Twice a Day

running twice a day

One of the key principles of running training is the hard/easy principle. A hard day's work needs to be followed by an easier day.

This helps your body recover. One of your concerns appears to be whether it would be bad for your muscles, joints, etc. Not necessarily. As long as you increase mileage safely, listen to your body and apply the hard/easy principle.

Additionally, you are going to have to work out how much hard work you can do on a day that has you running twice a day. It is going to be tough to fit in two hard runs on one single day, e.g. intervals in the morning and a tempo workout at night.

You might find, after some trial and error that you can do a harder workout in the morning, followed by an easy type of recovery run at night. As long as you keep the next day pretty easy as well.

There are some elite runners who do two tempo-type workouts on a single day. I quite often do a hard running workout in the morning and strength training in the afternoon or at night. It can be quite challenging to do that strength session, when your legs are already tired and your body is low on energy!

However you do it; after a day of running or exercising twice a day, use the next day as more of a recovery day. Recovery can mean complete rest or an easy run or some cross-training.

Hammering your body day in day out with tough sessions is going to lead to injury and burn-out in the end.

Hope this helps a bit in giving you some guidance. Running twice a day is definitely a valid option for some of us.

But when you do it, do it with care and as always, make sure you listen to your body so you know when you stress it too much!

Also make sure to check out my running training section which includes many more running tips to become a faster, better runner without necessarily having to do doubles.

Good luck with your running.
Kind regards,

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