Doubles vs longer daily runs

  • Creator
  • #62404

    Hi everyone,

    I’m curious about your experience increasing mileage by running doubles rather than increasing the length of your runs. I’m a busy dad with 3 kids and I find it hard increase my mileage over 100k/week without running twice most days, usually around an hour for each run. I was inspired by John Kelly’s segment in TftUA where he talks about sneaking in most of his mileage by running to work and back every day. Before our third baby, I had time to do long runs (4-8 hours) on the weekends but now I usually break up even my long runs into 2 runs (an hour run followed by another 2.5 hour run for instance). I have been able to get up to 140km/week on this strategy.

    I have 2 100k races this year and plan to supplement this training strategy with 2-3 all day adventure runs prior to each race, just to get that time on my feet, and my peak weeks will be 140km.

    How much do you think I will be missing out by not running continuously for 3 hours or more at a time on a weekly basis? Looking forward to your feedback, always good to hear from the UA community!

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    l.tregan on #62419

    I have no coaching background, but sharing my personal thoughts –

    100km / week is a lot already, probably I’d add Muscular Endurance and/or interval sessions (which don’t consume as much time) rather than long runs ? I ran Dragon’s Back and Ultra Trail Monte Rosa with that volume and finished in good conditions.

    140km / week is pro territory, they have no work obligations etc. and can thus sustain this load. I would think 140km/week is too much stress on a normal person to be productive. But everybody is different of course.

    With that said, many pro athletes train twice a day so maybe that is good to replenish and do a second run. With that volume, I’m not sure you need to do much body hacking like trying to run fasted etc.

    mylon.ollila on #62430

    Thanks @L-Tregan, I appreciate that insight! I agree with the need for M/E workouts. Just as a bit of background, I use M/E workouts in base training for all of my training cycles – they are magic – and yes, with a career and a family it takes a lot of planning to hit a peak week of 140km but in my experience it’s been doable.

    My main concern is that, even though my mileage is high, I’m splitting anything over 100km/week into 9 or more runs, with my longest continuous run at only 2-3 hours, and I’m worried that that strategy will come back to bite me in the ass when I do longer races.

    Aaron on #62433

    Jason Koop opines on this frequently, see for example: a few quotes:

    “Double days can be effective for ultrarunners who meet the following criteria:

    Runners who rarely, if ever, get injured
    Runners whose schedules don’t allow for weekday runs longer than 2 hours
    Runners with more than 4 years of training experience who have hit a performance plateau”

    “Just like an individual very long run will not make or break your season, one double run day is not going to turn you from a sloth to a superhero. Remember, endurance adaptations are chronic. They take weeks and months, not days or hours, to manifest into some reasonable improvement. So, if you are planning to engage in double days, do it for the long haul.”

    “I only end up prescribing double days for a very small percentage of the athletes I work with. This is because, minute-for-minute, single run volume is more effective than double run volume. In fact, my internal rule of thumb is that if I am going to apply double runs to an athlete, it should result in greater than 25% more volume when the month is all said and done.”

    Aaron on #62434

    My takeaways from that and other articles/podcasts/books is: if double long runs are the only way help get the chronic month over month volume up go for it. And that super long runs are not about getting a special training stimulus, but to prep your body and mind for dealing with the feeling of extra fatigue, nutrition dynamics, mental factors etc and thus only need that to the degree that part of you needs that training – and you have those 2-3 long day adventure runs for that purpose.

    mylon.ollila on #62440

    Thank you Aaron, very helpful!

    Fletcher on #62610

    Personally, I think your idea for double runs makes sense… If you’re unable to get a quality long run (3+hrs) in but are able to split it up into 2 ‘shorter’ runs then you should do it. It also sounds like your body is adapted to double runs without getting injured.

    I’m no coach but I do a double run mid-week, hill rep, intervals etc. followed by an hour recovery Z1 later in the day. And once my Sunday long run goes above 3.5hrs I’ll tag an easy run later in the day. Personally, I do longer followed by shorter (3+2hrs). but that’s just me.

    My reasoning is: I have a 7 month old at home, with very little support outside of me and my wife, although she’s supportive – me running for 4+ hours every Sunday does start to grate on her. This causes a lot of stress for everyone, I upcome non-present on my run and if I’m running late I pick up the pace which results in going into AnT territory. Like you, double runs seems to be the best way to increase weekly distance.

    For your adventure runs – it sounds like you’re getting in some good weekly kms and it doesn’t sound like you’re going to be able to increase that. So, I’d suggest sprinkling in a few simulation weekends closer to the adventure run, for instance, 3 days of 3hrs etc. but that depends on your adventure race distance.

    A way I sneak mileage in is to incorporate the family into a planned run, for instance, I’ll pick a family walk/activity that’s 2-3hr run from home. They’ll drive and I’ll run – we’ll walk for an hour or so and I’ll then run back. It seems to work well.

    I read somewhere about diminishing results after 3hrs so by splitting a long run up – will allow your body to replenish glucose levels etc. – although I’m not 100% on that and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that mentioned in UA literature?!

    The way I see it, we need our partners to be onside if we want longevity in our (sometimes selfish) pursuit in endurance sports. Realistically, the adaption won’t be much less. Your body will still have the cumulative effect of all the mileage over the week.

    sacha.abecassis on #62708


    Well first of all there is something that is very important here, I think it is not useful to compare doubles with long runs, as you don´t have the availability for long runs anyways. It´s like comparing training in Swiss vs training in the Netherlands for long mountain ultras. If you can not do long runs, then there is no need to regret not doing some.

    Now the question that is more relevant here is how to build endurance and fatigue resistance without using long runs.

    On that subject I´d say that first of all, you have a very strong base as it seems that you´ve been running a lot for quite some time, so you have all those accumulated miles in your legs and that should help you a lot.
    Also, you´re talking about 140km weeks. As mentioned before that is A LOT, especially if you don´t have a lot of availability for recovery. You might consider doing a little less as you might be overtraining, not to the point that you hurt yourself, but to the point that you don´t make as much progress as you could with more recovery.

    On the subject of doubles, I´d say that long runs are mainly useful to learn how to run on tired legs, but you can very easily do that with doubles. Especially by doing once a week a hard workout with threshold/tempo or else in the morning, and then a mid-long (1h30/2h) run in the evening.
    You´re training for 100k which will probably take you most part of a day (if not all day) to run, with long breaks at aid stations. So one important aspect is just to be on your feet all day. Running in the morning, then taking care of the kids and running around the house all day, and then running again in the evening is a fabulous training! 😉
    You´re also talking about doing doubles everyday with an hour each. If I were you I´d try to change that a bit, with most days only one or zero running, taking care of the family at home, so you can free some times for 2 days in the week when you can go longer/harder and do doubles. Basically the old principle of keeping the easy day easy and the hard days hard, instead of moderate training everyday.
    Muscular endurance workout is a great way to build the resistance that you would get on long runs, and you can do that at home while watching the kids, so don´t hesitate to incorporate it into your training, even if it means you do that instead of a run!
    Finally, the all-day adventure, with all that accumulated fitness and high mileage weeks should be more than enough to help you prepare for the race. 1 all day adventure every 3-5 weeks for the 12-weeks leading up to the race should help you a lot and make up for the super long runs that you haven´t done.

    But really, don´t forget to rest, because that is when you assimilate the training. 😉

    PS : English is not my mother tongue so forgive me if I made some mistakes, or if I´m not clear on something, don´t hesitate to ask me to reformulate !

    mylon.ollila on #62747

    Hi everyone, your feedback has been awesome, thanks so much!!!

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.