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:

First here:
Singles vs. Doubles- Is 9miles once better than 4.5mi twice? Maybe not.

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.

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    1. Anonymous on January 19, 2010 at 12:26 am

      say it was a 14 mile day, whats more optimal for recovery? 4/10 or 7/7 or is pestering over such a thing just a waste of time?

    2. Robert on January 19, 2010 at 8:06 am

      Good stuff Steve. I'll have to try and remember that once my base is back to the point it used to be.

    3. gary on January 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks for the post, I have been using the concept of "double long" for my marathon runners for some time. Essentially, they do a run saturday and then another run sunday that in total builds up their volume.

      But.. the key is the sunday workout and that they have a "quality" workout. Too often I see age group runners feel like they have to get in "the long run" and end up merely surviving the run, then spending several days recovering.

      For triathletes, I have done am/pm/am schedule to get in the run volume with quality runs.

      It all depends the athlete, but I really appreciate your thoughts on this!

    4. stevemagness on January 20, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for the comments all three of you.

      Anonymous- If we are strictly talking recovery, I would say 7 and 7 is better. Although maybe for a true recovery day something like 6 and 6 would be better.

      In general if you training at a high volume I think the earlier in the training, the more of the gap between double distance. As the season progresses, some of those double days should start progressing to more even doubles to promote recovery.

      So at the beginning of the year you might have 2 workouts, 1 long run and 4 days of easy/recovery and look like this (for a high mileage runner 90mpw+):

      easy day 1- am-9mi, pm-4mi
      easy day 2- 11-12mi
      easy day 3- am-8mi pm-5mi
      easy day 4- 10-11mi pm-2-3mi

      While during the season you might have:
      easy day 1- am-6mi pm-6mi
      easy day 2- am-9mi pm-3-4mi
      easy day 3- am-6mi pm-5mi
      easy day 4= am-6mi pm-6mi

      Those are just quick ideas ignoring the rest of the schedule obviously.

      Gary= I like your idea on the quality long runs. I agree completely w/ your thoughts on the age group runners. Your idea seems like a good idea how to get around that problem. Thanks for the thoughts.

    5. Timothy on January 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      Steve, solid post.
      I started doing 'shorter' doubles about 3 years ago when I moved to a warmer climate… to ensure recovery, keep the volume up, but limit the duration I was in the heat on my recovery days at one time.

      Since then, due to the success, I continue the 7/7, 6/6, etc. type doubles… despite moving out of the warmer climate.

      Just seemed to work well for me, and I have also incorporated such doubles into the programs of some runner's I advise.

      Thanks again for the solid post.


    6. Joël Léonard on September 17, 2014 at 11:37 am


      What about a very light but double training the day before a race ? Do you have an idea (or have tested) if it has any potential interest or is it just stupid ?

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