Having a clear out

In a recent piece that I wrote for Running Fitness magazine’s October issue, I interviewed Mike McLeod – the last British man, before Mo Farah, to win a medal of any colour in an Olympic 10,000m race.

I hope that you will have an opportunity to read the piece and enjoy the things that Mike told me about his training. There is a huge amount that he told me that I think could relate to everyone’s training.

Double days

One of the things that he talked about, which I think is a great addition to anyone’s training, is the concept of two runs a day – whether that is an easy run in preparation for a session in the evening or a recovery run in the afternoon after a hard run in the morning. The idea in either case, is to flush out the legs after a hard effort.

Get rid of the junk... in your legs!My experience of double-days

This morning I did one of my favourite sessions: hills. I will admit that during the session I was cursing myself for agreeing to join a training mate at Alexandra Palace for 3 x 10 minutes continuous hills up and down the front of the ‘Palace on the grass. It was a really tough run, but I loved it! Typically after a session like that, I would opt to go for an easy 45 minute run to ease out my legs and reduce the stiffness.

At other times, I would try to go for an easy run in the morning when I know I have a session in the evening. Again the purpose here is to flush out my legs and loosen them up before the real running in the evening.

Mike McLeod said much the same thing. He would regularly run 120 miles per week, but much of that would be going for runs before or after sessions to limber up.

Should you do double-days?

I know for many people the idea of two runs as day is difficult to contemplate. But if you are serious about your running and determined to be the best runner you can be, I would urge you to try it. You might want to start easy by going for a brisk walk in the evening when you have done a hard run in the morning or maybe walking some of the way to work the morning after a tough session. Do that for a few weeks and allow it to become part of your routine. From that point, it is not difficult to turn the walk into a jog and then suddenly you are running twice a day and will be taking your running to the next level.

As far as the specifics are concerned, my tips for adding a second run to your day are as follows:

  1. Take it easy! This is most definitely a run that should leave you feeling better afterwards than when you started
  2. Don’t wear a heart rate monitor or a speed/distance device – this is to support point #1 above. Don’t worry about time or speed or distance – just go out and run for a while to let your legs recover
  3. Maybe find a reason to go. I think that sometimes these runs work best if you have an ulterior reason for going, like running to a friend’s house or home from work
  4. Wear your easy run shoes. These recovery runs are no place for racing flats. You can, of course, wear minimalist shoes, but don’t be tempted to race. This is all about the recovery
  5. Stretch afterwards: a nice easy run after a tough session earlier in the day, warms up the muscles and is the perfect thing to do before you stretch out the tension in your legs
  6. If you are new to this, then try combining running and walking – find an out-and-back route and walk for 15 minutes, run for seven and a half, then turn and keep running back the way you came for seven and a half minutes, then walk 15 minutes. Voila, you’re home and feeling great!
  7. If you are a more experienced runner, remember to keep it very easy and use these runs to focus on relaxing and good form

So there you have it – if you want to improve, maybe a second run a few times per week is the answer. Just remember to get into the routine slowly, run slowly and above all, enjoy it! (Oh and let me know what you think…)


  1. I was considering doubling up some days or doing a run in the morning followed by a swim, session in the gym or bike in the evening. This would be ideal were I ever to get to the stage where I can run to work. That’s a bit hard for me just now. Running from Cambridge to Leeds, for example, isn’t really practicable.

    Those of us who are serious about our running but have jobs, relationships and the rest of our live in general to maintain are in a difficult position. Something has to go, and most of the time it’s the extra training we need to move up to the next level. Running the commute would be an easy way to get some extra miles in the bag without having impinge too much on the rest of our lives.

  2. I’ve tried it a number of times but personally I struggle to get any benefit from a recovery run.

    I feel uncomfortable and unnatural after running a very slow pace, nearly always end up feeling stiffer as a result.

    I find that cycling at an easy pace feels way better for getting heat into the muscles in preparation for a good stretch, so cycling to work leads me on the road to sorting out the legs after the previous night’s effort and gets me to the office, two birds with one stone!

  3. Just starting out on double days. Overdid a bit with a hard core session (thats a core session that is hard, not anything dodgy), followed by a tempo run in the evening. Unsurprisingly I was beat this morning! but like the advice and will take it up Simon.
    Dommy – Agree on the benefits of a wind down on the bike. If you go easy its a nice way to shake out the legs.

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