So what's it going to be this year? What needs work? Chances are pretty good that your running is lacking—and I'm here to tell you that you can make a positive impact by running more than once a day a couple of times a week.
Like swimming, there's a certain "feel" or rhythm to efficient running and, if your biomechanics can handle it, two-a-days are one way to improve your running performance. Used to break up a long run, they can also be a way to prevent injury.
A frequent issue for athletes who are preparing for half-Ironman and full Ironman-distance events is the dreaded long run. If your long run pace is 10 minutes a mile and you are aiming for a longest long run of 18 miles, you'll be out there for?three hours.
For newcomers to the weight-bearing stresses of running, the risk associated with a three-hour run three to five weeks out from their goal just isn't worth it.
The answer is to split this run by doing a two- to 2.5-hour run in the morning and then heading back out for 30 to 60 minutes in the afternoon. The runs are close enough that you'll reap the benefits of a long run but far enough apart to allow precious recovery that might just avert a potential injury. You don't have to do the bigger portion first, but this is the typical pattern.
For those who want to boost their weekly running volume but like a day of recovery between runs, it might not be the end of the world to include a 15- to 30-minute day on their regularly scheduled run days.
For an athlete who subsists on four days of running a week, they might have a harder run, longer run and two easier runs. By adding a short run on any of these days, they'll still get their full days off but boost their weekly volume by as much as an hour.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to run simply for the sake of boosting their log book totals so that they can impress their training buddies. I'm saying that many athletes have performance expectations that don't match their workload.
You're not going to run 40-minutes off the bike on two runs a week. It's all well and good to talk about making every workout count and that quality is more important than quantity, but for some a simple extra run or two per week might just give them the endurance infrastructure and neuromuscular patterning they need to reach their goals.
A former pro triathlete, Paul Huddle is a Multisports.com coach and finisher of the Western States 100.
Reprinted courtesy of Triathlete magazine. For more articles and information from Triathlete, please visit www.triathletemag.com.