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.
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.
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:
- Take it easy! This is most definitely a run that should leave you feeling better afterwards than when you started
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
- 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…)