By Ed Eyestone
When I was in high school, my cross-country team began every school day with a 5–6km run and ended it with another run. We placed first or second at the provincial meet every year. The secret of our success is really no secret. Instead of running five times a week, we ran 10 times.
Studies have shown that runners who run a higher mileage have better economy and cardiovascular fitness than those who run less.
If you’re currently running five days a week for at least 40 minutes a day, you’re ready for doubles.
Here’s how to pack the most into the season so that you’ll have an edge on the competition.
Instead of going out for one run, divide your normal run by two. This gives you the distance of your first run. Your second run will be three-quarters of the distance of your normal run. So on a day in which you’d normally do 12km, you’d run 6km in the morning and 9km in the evening.
(12 x .5 = 6 and 12 x .75 = 9).
Start weaving doubles into your routine by doing them twice a week on your easy days. A double dose of laid-back runs is great for building cardiovascular conditioning and increasing your mileage base. This is the duo you’ll run the most.
After a month of easy doubles, add an easy morning run to one quality day. These early sessions will loosen you up and keep you from feeling sluggish during evening intervals or tempo runs. Once your body has adapted to the mileage boost, turn another hard day into a double.
It’s not necessary to do doubles on your long days, but on occasion it’s fine – especially if you’re trying to boost overall mileage for the week and are planning to follow the extra-long effort with a rest or easy day.
Before an afternoon race, a 15-minute morning jog can iron out travel kinks and flush muscles with blood, which enhances flexibility. After a morning race, an easy 15- to 30-minute evening run can increase blood flow, which will reduce inflammation.
Keep one run in the 60 to 70% effort range to progress safely. And remember, the goal is not to run doubles every day, but to run as many as you can without getting wiped out.
Don’t expect results from sporadic doubles. One of my athletes was an average high school runner who became a top athlete at university after consistently performing duos. In his words: ‘It wasn’t until I was doing doubles three or four times a week, every week, that things really took off.’
Rest or 6km easy