Is Running Twice A Day OK? (Tips From Four Experts)
Thinking about running twice a day? We asked a select group of fitness experts about the pros and cons of logging some 'two-a-days'
Running twice a day – also known as running ‘two-a-days’ – is pretty common for elite athletes, but not quite so popular amongst recreational runners.
As you’ve probably already guessed, there are some pros and cons to running twice a day.
Running twice a day may help your body to become more efficient during your workouts over time, but it may also increase the chance of suffering an injury as a result of overtraining.
We asked a group of fitness and running experts to deliver their top tips and information when it comes to running two-a-days.
Here’s what they said.
It Depends On The Runner
Jordan Duncan, Owner of Silverdale Sport and Spine
My recommendations regarding running twice per day would depend on the runner.
For more experienced runners who are well-adapted to a higher weekly mileage, running twice per day should be well tolerated.
For a beginner, running twice per day can create challenges from a recovery standpoint. It has been shown that overtraining is a leading cause of injury among runners due to the inability of the body to heal from the repetitive demands that running exerts on the body.
For those runners who can handle twice per day running, these ‘two a day’ sessions can be a great way to add weekly mileage during training, as well as improving physiological capacity.
The body has the remarkable capability of responding to its imposed demands, and the second run of the day can improve a runner’s ability to recover.
One difficulty for those who want to run twice per day is the time factor. For many people it is difficult enough to find the time to run once daily, let alone twice.
If you are considering running twice per day, a morning and evening run would allow for adequate recovery time between sessions.
Even though this ultimately depends on the skill and aptitude of the individual, the general rule of allowing a minimum of six hours between runs is a good starting point.
There Are Pros And Cons To Running Twice A Day
Whitney Heins, VDOT-O2 Certified Running Coach and Founder of The Mother Runners
Pros: There are many pros to running twice a day. Running two times a day is most useful in trying to run a certain mileage.
Therefore, it is useful in helping the body become more efficient at running without having the stress of a really long run.
It also helps the body (and mind) learn how to run when it’s tired, which is especially helpful for long-distance runners.
‘Two-a-days’ can also be used to aid in recovery by increasing blood flow which clears away exercise-induced toxins.
Running twice is also really useful for people who are short on time in which they can split up their runs in order to get the total mileage in for the day.
Cons: The cons of running twice a day arise if you’re overtraining or if you’re splitting up a long run.
You should not run twice a day if you exhausted or feel a potential injury coming on. It is better to rest and recover.
It is also not beneficial to split up a weekly long run into two shorter runs. Long runs are crucial for mental and physical adaptations, for example, mitochondrial function and capillary production.
Other things to bear in mind: It is wise to leave at least six hours between runs if you run twice a day. Ensure you eat and hydrate between work bouts.
A lot of runners will do a hard workout in the morning and do a few shake-out miles in the evening. If this is something you plan to start, be prepared to feel very uncomfortable and stiff on your second run.
Over a couple of weeks, your body will acclimate, and you’ll become smoother. Pace is not a concern for these miles. Run slow and very easy. Let biology do the work — all you have to do is move!
Think About Why You Want To Run Twice A Day
Tara Warren, Mountain Runner and Running Coach
It’s OK to run twice a day, but you really need to examine the ‘why’ behind doing so. Are you being prescribed workouts from a coach, just feeling antsy and want to run, or what sort of goal are you looking to accomplish by doing this?
Some of the pros of multi-day training would be teaching your body a new recovery process between workouts. Shorter bursts between runs can boost your metabolism and aid with fat-burning while building up important mitochondrial function (which aids with fatigue).
It’s also a phenomenal way to increase your mileage and still having time for a rest day during the week.
Ideally, you’d want to pick up another run four to 10 hours after your previous workout.
If your earlier run was more of a tempo or hard run, use the second run to flush out the lactic acid and have someone massage your legs. Turn off your watch and don’t worry about pace.
It’s important to listen to your body. If you are interested in two-a-day runs, jump in slowly and pay attention to your body’s reaction.
Don’t do two hard workouts in a row where you are pushing the intensity. Even if you feel like you can hack it, give your body a break with longevity and success as your main goals.
Your Body Needs Time To Rest And Recover
Lindsay McGraw, Owner and Physical Therapist at Marka Health
If you are a recreational runner (running for general fitness) and not training for a specific event, I believe you should not run twice a day.
The reason is because when we run, or do any exercise for that matter, we are putting strain on our bodies and causing microtrauma, or very small injuries. These microtraumas cue your body to get stronger.
So when you go for a run, your body is being slowly broken down. And after your run, your body thinks ‘huh, this idiot may go do this again, I better be ready for next time’ – and that is how you build strength.
You don’t get stronger when you do your activity, you get stronger in the 24 hours after when your body is recovering from the activity.
So you shouldn’t go out running twice a day just because it works best with your schedule. Your body needs time to rest and recover following physical exertion. It’s during the time we aren’t working out that we get stronger.
Running twice a day could potentially put you at higher risk for overuse injuries, contribute to developing muscle imbalance, not to mention accelerating wear on the joints.
I would be OK with running twice a day if you are training for an endurance event and need to work on building up exercise tolerance.
Even then, I would probably recommend doing combination training, running some amount and then switching to the bike or swimming or another cardiovascular activity.
If you are really wanting or needing to run twice a day: Definitely check in with a physical therapist to screen for imbalances that may impact your running form.
Make sure you are doing some cross training and also recovery activities. I would recommend working with a coach to evaluate and best plan out how to achieve your running goals.