This is a sort of mini blog post. Dathan Ritzenhein (sub 13 5k runner for U.S.) posted an interesting blog about how his training has changed from his High School days until the present. It’s a good read and can be found below:
There are several things that stood out, but one comment he made in particular seemed relevant to this blog. Someone asked him about how there doesn’t seem to be many days where he does medium distance (10+mi). Instead several of his easy days are split doing 5mi in the morning and 5mi in the afternoon.
For those who have followed this blog for a while, you might recall where I touched on that exact subject a couple months ago:
And a follow up here:
Evidence for Doubling: Training in a glycogen depleted state.
Similarly to Dathan and his coaches, I think that splitting up runs can be very beneficial. My HS guys often do 5 and 5 for example. Above I speculated on several reasons for why they work so well. Interestingly, here’s Dathan’s take:
Now I do not do many medium distance runs because I will usually do a long run once ever two weeks, and the other week I have a big workout that totals a lot of volume, as much as I would get in a long run. The workouts are very hard though so I need the days to be split up to recover fully for the next one. If I did a medium run it would not be enough rest for me. I did run them before with Mark and Brad, but I was always more sluggish for the workouts.
Short doubles allow for recovery while still getting in a high volume of work. I think it’s time to throw out the notion of a longer run always being better than a couple short runs.
My contention is that once the base of general endurance is built up to a high level, is there really going to be much of a stimulus in doing 10-12 miles at an easy pace? Probably not. Similar to what Dathan says, it seems like that if you have a long run or a high volume workout once each week, that is more than enough to maintain general endurance. Thus the easy runs serve as recovery and support for the harder workouts.
I think this applies to other sports such as swimming or cycling too. You have to remember the purpose of each training session.