Death by Doubles

Coffee and a hat were mandatory for run #2 of the day.  After taking the girls to Disney last week for our vacation, I'm crashing back to reality this week with high mileage and cold, early runs.  Mileage is back up in the low 90s which means that I've been running quite a few days of doubles.   What does that mean for me?  Well, this week it's meant hair that stays in a ponytail, multiple showers, quite a few loads of running-related laundry, and COFFEE.

I've never done a lot of doubles in the past since Pfitzinger's schedule doesn't really call for too many.  And I've appreciated that!  It was so nice to run once a day and be done!  For the most part, marathon training encourages endurance-based adaptations in your body to store more glycogen and utilize more fat at a given speed.  Pfitzinger argues that there's a greater stimulus for these adaptations through one longer run (12 miles) than by doing a 7-miler and a 5-miler at the same pace.

But once you get above 75 miles or so, doubles become almost a necessity.  Since this year I've tried to up my mileage some, I've had a decision to make:  Do I get up super, super early every day to allow enough time for a 12-15 mile run before 6:45am?  Or do I run 8-10 in the morning and then run again later in the day to make up the difference?

From the title of this post I'm guessing you can figure out what I opted for.  So for several days each week, I run twice a day.  This week, Monday-Thursday looked like this:

Monday:  11 miles at 5am w/5x600m at 5K pace  then 8 miles at 10am Tuesday: 6 miles easy at 5am then 7 miles easy at 10am Wednesday: 9 miles easy at 5am then 6 miles moderate at 10am Thursday: 10.6 miles easy at 5am then 2.4 miles easy at 10am

I won't lie.  It's been tiring to do so many double runs each week.  There are days when I seriously question both the amount of mileage I'm putting in and running doubles in general.  I don't yet have the race times to back up my higher mileage weeks  - I often find myself wondering "why on earth am I putting in so many miles?  I'm not elite.  I don't have a super-fast time yet and there are plenty of speedy gals that run fewer miles and clock faster times than I'm capable of."  But I come back to a good friend of mine who has had a similar marathon progression.  She (and others I've spoken with) feel that it's only after a solid multi-season diet of higher mileage that one starts to see their true marathoning potential.  I am working under that assumption for now, and this is my first season running this many miles.  But - should a few seasons of this strategy result in less than stellar times - I'm not opposed to revising that assumption and cutting back the mileage.   But back to the double runs.  I'm fortunate - I have a window of time on Tuesday and Thursday when my girls are in preschool.  This makes that second run a bit easier to get in, even though it means that I'm usually going for that second run less than 3 hours after the first.  It's not ideal from a recovery standpoint, but it's what works with my schedule this season so I'm rolling with it.

Oh - you were expecting a picture of cookies?  Sorry - we ate them all.  Thanks, double-run hunger!

But now as I am slowly (slowly!!) nearing the taper (hurray!), I'm still wondering if I've taken the right approach.  I suppose I'll find out on race day, but I do wonder if splitting up the runs as much as I've done will help or hurt me.  There are benefits to running those longer mid-week runs of 12-15 miles (greater training adaptations for storing glycogen and using fat), but there are also benefits to running twice a day (additional boost in metabolism from the second run, easier on your body, and splitting runs on easy days can actually boost recovery as each run will increase blood flow to the muscles but take little out of you).  It's made sense for me this season with where I'm at in both my training and life with the little ones, so I went with it.  But I'm curious to hear from others out there:

Do you run doubles?  Do you feel it helps/hurts/doesn't matter?