Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tips For Achieving Running and Racing Success,Pt.1,Two- a- Days

I recall years ago when the concept of having groups of elite American distance runners sponsored so they wouldn't have to work and could use their waking hours for training and rest was heavily promoted. The impetus for this was the desperate hope that American runners would become more competitive on the world scene,translation--they could beat the Africans.Well, some programs were initiated; I believe one funded by Nike and with Alberto Salazar as coach still exists today.As a sidenote,I recall years ago writing an article for the running website The Nashville Runner and taking the viewpoint that these funded programs were doomed for failure. The editor of the site strongly disagreed with what I wrote but my response was that time would reveal whether or not I was right. It only takes a look at today's world distance rankings to see who was correct.The reality is,as former world marathon record holder Derek Clayton wrote,"there are just so many hours in the day you can train,you need to do something to stimulate your mind." He then recalled how he trained twice a day while maintaining a full time job and having a family. Having to do so he said developed discipline and gave structure to his life.I thought of what he said in light of the running magazine articles I had read describing how some of the guys in the sponsored programs spent their days running,resting and playing video games.But, I digress. As we attempt to become better runners and racers, there are some things we can do that will make us better. I should add here that the key word is,WILL make us better,not might.One thing that that will help us in this process is adding an easy second run on specified days of the week.Dr. Ernst Van Aaken and Arthur Lydiard were both believers in the benefits of a second easy supplementary run. Lydiard especially recommended doing one sometime after an anaerobic session had been completed. He said: "This helps develop general cardiac efficiency and assists in the recovery from the low blood pH that may have developed during anaerobic training. By stimulating blood circulation gently or aerobically,you will assist your metabolism to improve generally." In speaking with other runners and from personal experience,you will reap significant benefits over time from a second daily run, irregardless of whether or not the earlier run was an anaerobic or an aerobic one.You will be building muscle strength and cardiac efficiency. Of course before starting, you first have to take into account what your body can tolerate.For some,a 15 or 20 minute jog done twice a week may be all they can handle to start. Also,it is not written in stone that a second daily run is something you must do 5,6 or 7 days a week for x amount of time.The details are something you determine by evaluating your training and listening to your body. I should also add that the second easy run of the day should not impact on your earlier aerobic workout. By this I mean,if you intend to run a 10 miler as your main workout for the day,do not split it up into 7 miles at one time and 3 later.As Lydiard taught, the longer and more continuously you run the better the development of new capillaries which in turn will lead to the body being able to use more oxygen and use it more efficiently.
There is another and sometimes forgotten psychological benefit of adding a second daily run.The overwhelming majority of runners at your local road races train once a day.In the races you will be strengthened mentally, as well as physically,knowing that very few out there are doing the kind of training you are.Do not ignore or underestimate the psychological benefits your training can provide on race day.


  1. Hey Dave I love your thoughts and commentaries... but I also love paragraphs and double spaces. I guess I'm ruled in my life by the everyday breather offered by the omnipresent para, but reading your text is a little challenging on a web page. Scrolling down it is so easy to lose your place then hard to re-locate it.

    Just a point. On a printed page I'd have no problems with the text. Online I do.

  2. Hey--thanks for the suggestion--you make a good point which after I thought about what you wrote and looked at some of my prior posts that were double spaced--it does seem they are easier to read.

  3. Dave,
    After years of training as a younger man and running twice a day during my prime, I have a question for you. My training now consists of 40-45 miles per week, six days a week. This includes at least 1/2 or more on trails. Do you think adding 1-2 days of morning 15-30 minute runs would be counter-productive? I have not read about anyone in my age bracket (63years) running twice a day. I'm up for experimenting but on the other hand injuries are a major concern. Seems I have become much more fragile given the miles on my legs. I'm looking for more strength and the ability to become more competitive.

    Very much enjoyed your essay, Dave.

  4. Wayne,
    I think it's encouraging that half your mileage is on the trails, that is a very forgiving surface for your legs. 40 to 45 miles per week is good.If you don't have any persistent, existing injuries or work a job where you're on your feet all day,I would try introducing a couple of easy 15 or 20 minute runs and see how it goes.Here's an example, say you did some type of morning run or workout on one of your days off,later in the day come back with a very easy 20 minute jog.As an afterthought,as we get older anaerobic intensity in our workouts should drop off as aerobic work increases.

    1. Thanks for your input. I will give it a try.