Most of us get it. When you want to get in shape you want to get in shape fast. It’s natural to feel like this (especially if the clock is ticking before a big wedding or reunion), and one of the toughest facets of trying to get in shape is figuring out how to balance how hard you can push yourself with how much you can really take.

Some of the more committed choose to go with two-a-days, but are they worthwhile? Will they really get you in shape faster? And perhaps most important, can you pull them off without getting injured? This is the real scoop on two-a-days.

Some of the most competitive runners in the world run two-a-days (also known as doubles) as a part of their regular routine. For them it’s a good way to pack a lot of miles into their week so that they reach higher performance goals.

A lot of the time, this two-a-day routine works well for well trained athletes, but it can also lead to overuse injuries and burn out, so it’s important to listen to your body. It’s also crucial to consider what kind of runner you are (and want to become) and then let that determine whether or not you ought to be gearing up twice per day.

All that said, remember that even if you can’t run twice per day, working out twice per days isn’t always a bad idea. Cross training is an excellent way to get extra exercise without stressing the same muscles over and over again. Whether you’re swimming, biking, or playing squash, don’t rule out other workouts as an excellent means for getting fit.

People Who Should Avoid the Two-A-Day

Not everyone should consider double workouts. For one, recreational runners shouldn’t have to worry about the added demand. Beginning runners should also avoid two-a-days because of the demand such workouts put on the body. Beginning runners are in an important building stage where they are building up and getting stronger.

When beginning runners try doubles they often end up hurting themselves because they haven’t given their bodies enough time to recover between workouts. Instead of pushing the start too hard, beginners should take some time to build a base level of endurance and then go from there.

Most long distance endurance runners should also avoid doubles. Two short runs never deliver the same benefits as one longer run, so experts almost always recommend that endurance runners train for their sport by practicing their sport exactly. In other words, the best way to train for the physical and psychological demands of a long run is to practice running non-stop for long periods of time.

Endurance runners who make a habit of breaking up their run can’t prepare themselves for hitting the wall or mile 23 unless they’ve actually been there. That said, distance runners can often benefit from a half hour afternoon session. This easy run often helps runners with recovery.

Those Who Can Benefit From Doubles Workouts

All cautionary messages aside, there are still many people who can really benefit from two-a-day workouts. Competitive runners who have a strong foundational training base aren’t at as great of a risk of injury, so they are likely to benefit from doubles. Runners looking to lose weight or log an excess of 70 miles per week can also benefit from two-a-days, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Important Questions

If you start running two-a-days you should listen to your body and ask a few basic questions. If you can answer these questions and still feel like you’re doing well with your runs, two-a-days might be for you.

● After having run two-a-days for about a month, are you starting to see gains?

● Have you been injury free after having run twice per day consistently?

● Are you able to fit your second workout in without creating too much stress on your regular day?

Tips For Starting Two-A-Days

Designing a two-a-day regimen should be strategic as opposed to haphazard. You should ease into them gradually so as not to create too much stress on your body initially, and it’s important to have an overall plan. For example, you should start with one or two doubles per week and then gradually increase their consistency. Also consider overall mileage goals when planning your week.

For example, if you are looking to run a long race, you should log more miles. This chart shows a good rule of thumb for doubles.

When You Should Consider Logging Doubles

Race Distance: 5K or shorter

Weekly Mileage Exceeds 55 Miles

Race Distance: 8K to 12K

Weekly Mileage Exceeds 60 Miles

Race Distance: 15K to 25K

Weekly Mileage Exceeds 70 Miles

Race Distance: 30K to marathon

Weekly Mileage Exceeds 75 Miles

Other important tips to consider are the fact that you should maintain a break of at least four hours between workouts, and that you should mix and match your workouts so runs don’t become tedious too quickly. You can pair tempo runs with long runs, hard runs with casual days out and much more. Just stay conscious of your body and you’ll be well on your way to getting in shape and staying there.