Running Twice Daily for Marathon Training due to Time Constraints

by Lynne
(York, PA)

running twice daily for marathon training

Hello, I am a 51-year-old woman and am running my first marathon in three months' time. I break up my long runs on Sunday (7 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon or whatever my training schedule is) due to time constraints.

How will this affect me on race day? I do not sleep in between runs.

Answer by Dominique:

Hey there,
First off, let me apologize for the slight delay in getting back to you – my schedule’s been a bit like a marathon itself recently! Now, onto your question about splitting up your long runs and how it might impact your performance come marathon day.

Let's split up the answer as follows:

1. The Importance of the Long Run
2. Adjusting Your Race Day Goals

The Importance of the Long Run

running twice daily for marathon training

The long run is so, so important when when we're talking about marathon training. You see, in a marathon, it's a test of endurance, requiring you to keep your feet moving for a staggering 26.2 miles all at once!

When training your body for such an endurance-demanding event, you've got to replicate, as closely as possible, the conditions of race day. This means we need to include long runs where you're covering running for several hours straight, just like you'll need to on marathon day.

These long, continuous runs serve a two-fold purpose. First off, they're all about helping you adjust to what it's like to be on your feet for so long. They also train your body to use its energy stores more efficiently, a key skill to master when running those full marathon distances.

running twice daily for marathon training

When you run, you use up fuel. Your body has different types of fuel. Glycogen, easy fast-burning fuel that you run out of when you run for long enough. And fat, a much harder to burn fuel, that you have plenty of to run for days.

Every time you run long (e.g. longer than 90 minutes) your body is getting better trained to access fat, not glycogen as the fuel source.

So, by breaking your long runs up in two, you are losing important opportunities to run for longer than 90 minutes and train your body at becoming better at at burning fat. And you are not getting used to running for hours on end. Something that will need to happen on race day.

So, the gist of what I am trying to tell you is: breaking up your long runs isn't the most optimal approach for marathon training.

Adjusting Your Race Day Goals

running twice daily for marathon training

Now, my first advice would be to find the time to do the long run in one run.

But, assuming that this is absolutely not possible, then we need to start thinking about race day and what to do there.

My suggestion would be to consider turning your marathon into a run/walk marathon. I think either way it will be a run/walk marathon.

Option 1 is to start running and see how long you last. Then walk the remainder of the race....

Option 2 is the better approach: regularly alternate running and walking, e.g. run 7 minutes, walk 3, run 7 minutes, walk 3, etc. It's an approach that many beginner runners adopt, and it could help you deal with the marathon's significant demands.

One more tip: try finding times mid-week in which you can add runs longer than 90 minutes. A mid-week somewhat long run is an important part of a successful marathon build-up. In lieu of the long run on the weekend, it may help you get that little bit extra prepared and make the whole challenge a tad less daunting.

Wishing you all the best in your marathon endeavors.

Kind regards,

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