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Doubling up

September 17, 2011

Since pretty much giving public transport in London a miss, I’ve started including commuter runs in my training routine. Packing two 6.5-mile runs into my day means I can bolster my weekly mileage without taking up too much time.

And from Twitter, it seems that an increasing number of runners I follow are doubling up their runs. Perhaps it’s the time of year – the end of the summer and the beginning of the winter base-building sessions – or perhaps it’s something I’m more conscious of now that I’m a more experienced runner.

I occasionally doubled up while training for the Paris Marathon in late 2009/early 2010. By this point I’d been running for a bit over a year and those days were tough. Typically this would involve a trip to the gym in the morning for a quick 10km on a treadmill, a day at work, and then a run of around 11.5km in the evening. It was tough because I was generally stiff for the second run, so heading out into the dark was generally a tougher mental battle than would have normally been the case.

Now I’ve been running for longer, my body is better at recovering, so the double-run days are less daunting – so much so that this week I had two double-run days in a row.

For the final 40 days of training for the Paris Marathon, I've invested in a Camelbak and a substantial quantity of carbo gels

My Camelbak – ideal for hydration, but also pretty handy for carrying the essentials to and from work

If you’re thinking about stacking up your runs, here are a few tips that I’ve found useful:

  1. Plan your week’s runs in advance and prepare for the logistical challenges of these runs. For example, when I run into work I know that I need a full change of clothes left in the office the day before and a set of running clothes for the journey home. Plan carefully ahead and you won’t have to worry about whether going commando or ‘recycling’ is the lesser of two evils.
  2. Work out what essentials you need to have with you and how you’ll carry them. When I go out on a normal run I only take my keys, but on commuter run days I need to carry my wallet, keys and phone (I also carry my lunch into work in the morning and my grubby running kit back in the evening). I’ve seen lots of runners with commuter running backpacks, which are good for space, but I just use my Camelbak. (A note of caution, though: think twice about carrying bananas – one day I had an over-ripe fruit in my bag and by the time I got into the office it looked like there had been a dirty protest… Banana guard, anyone?)
  3. Be aware of how running affects your metabolism. Start your morning with a run, and even if you had breakfast before heading out I guarantee you’ll be ravenous come 11. Have snacks ready for when you need them. However, avoid having a massive lunch or you’ll probably feel sluggish in the afternoon.
  4. When it comes to the running, take the first mile or two easy. It will take your body a little while to ease into the second run of the day, so run by feeling rather than by watch. This is even more true if your run happens to coincide with rush hour – crossing busy roads and negotiating crowded pavements will slow anyone down.
  5. Remember to stretch after each run. Anything that helps you avoid getting stiff or losing flexibility in your legs between runs can only be a good thing.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    September 17, 2011 5:22 pm

    I agree with all those points. I’d put a lot of emphasis on stretching, rehydration & getting the right food in after the first run.

  2. September 28, 2011 4:57 pm

    Since getting caught in a squall on my run to work and a torrential downpour on my way home from work the other day, I’m going to add an extra tip: Carry plastic bags. If you’re going to be sitting around in the office after a wet run, you’ll need bags for your sopping kit to try to keep your dry clothes dry.

    And, if your trainers get soaked, stuff them with paper towels or actual towels. The first time I tried this I couldn’t quite believe how much water was absorbed! My shoes practically dried out in eight hours.

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