March 29, 2012

Double Dipping (2 quality workouts in 1 day)

One new wrinkle I've added into my training during the buildup towards Boston is the AM/PM "double dip" - where I have been doing a tempo run in the morning, then a track session after work. I've developed the ability to recovery very quickly after hard workouts over the past year, so this has been a somewhat natural progression.

Like a lot of runners, I often feel really good after doing a tempo run, especially later that same day. I figure that while the body is primed and feeling good, I might as well throw in a little bonus turnover/speed work, then really focus on recovery afterwards. The advantage is that I get in the extra workload without sacrificing a true recovery day. The other bonus is that it keeps me from running either session too fast! It forces me to make each workout on these days a controlled effort. In February and March I did the double workout 6 times - here is a table of what those sessions were and the paces:

AM: Tempo
PM: Track
6 miles
12 x 400m
  4x200m + 8x400m + 4x200m  
(34, 71, 33)
5 miles
8 x 800m
8 miles
20 x 200m
3 x 1600m + 8 x 200m
(4:55, 33.0)
8 x 400m

These aren't my longest tempo runs, or my hardest track workouts by any means. But I have found these days to be very beneficial in the overall scheme of the training. The tempo runs are generally at marathon goal pace or slightly faster, and most of the track work is at 3K/5K goal pace... except on longer reps (800-1600m), where I'm doing "cruise" intervals at threshold pace. I keep the rest short on all interval workouts... usually a 200m jog b/w reps.

I would caution most runners against incorporating this into their training unless you aren't very susceptible to injuries and you've already built a very strong aerobic foundation. If you are considering trying this, I would recommend starting with something along the lines of a 3-4 mile tempo run in the morning, and then an easy session of 6-10 x 200m @ 5K pace in the afternoon. Give your body a chance to get accustomed to what you are throwing at it, without overloading the systems all at once. Then try it again 10-14 days later. Over 2 months I did this only 6 times, so its not necessarily something to start doing twice a week. Once every week or two is probably the ideal way to mix it in. You still need to get the longer tempo runs when training for the marathon (for me, those are in the 8-16 mile range) and track workouts like 5-6 x Mile where you are running faster and need to have fresh(er) legs for the workout.

[Update from original post: As I thought about this more after posting the blog, I think I should make it very clear that in addition to having a strong aerobic foundation before trying this training idea, you need to be very comfortable running doubles in general - easy shakeout runs after harder efforts and long run. I would say that you'd want to be consistently running doubles for months, maybe even a year, before trying to squeeze two workouts into such a short timeframe.]

Mentally, its a challenge to psyche yourself up to run fast again, especially when you've already had a very good run in the morning. To me, this is an additional benefit - your mind has to be tough, just like in races!

I didn't really have any good pictures to include with this post, but here's my arsenal lined up by the door right now :-)


  1. I really like the idea of the double days and can't wait to try it once I get my base where I need to be.

    By the way, I really enjoy reading about you and Andrea. So inspiring! I'd love to hear more about how you balance your hard-core training with your adventures and working full time....I don't see how you do it!!!

  2. Such a great read Jake. I don't think I was ready for doubles in my build up to Boston but I can see myself incorporating them down the road as I continue to gain fitness and grow as a runner. I think the mental aspect of this type of training is equally as beneficial as the physical gains.

    If I keep logging as many miles as I have been I'm thinking about turning one of my spare bedrooms into a used shoe store. :) For some reason I just can't throw them they just pile up. ha!

  3. You should see the amount of shoe boxes in the spare bedroom.

    CentsibleRunner - it really boils down to loving what you do. If you can find a way for training hard to be fun/rewarding and not necessarily a "sacrifice" (at least most of the time) - then its a lot easier to find the balance. Having no real responsibilities outside of work definitely helps.

    Rachelle - you've phased in the doubles perfectly w/ your training this year. Easy shakeout runs to start. I think you have to be really comfortable w/ running easy doubles, and easy runs after harder runs for a long time before you try this method. I probably should amend the original blog to reflect that.