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Training with Coach Crowe Posted on July 14, 2014


Runners are obsessed with miles or minutes run during training.  There is a school of thought among the majority of runners that only one training session per day is beneficial to fitness.  They believe any other miles gained within a twenty four hour period after the initial session are “junk miles” and provide no adaptive advantage.  However two recent studies shed new light on this idea and make the case for multiple sessions also called doubling.

The first study highlighted on the sweatscience.com website describes a study conducted at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and appears in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.  The Canadian researchers exposed 135 obese and inactive volunteers to exercise bouts of ten minutes or less resulting in aerobic fitness gains with the multiple bouts.  For a complete description of the study please go to the web site.   

While a training session of ten minutes or less is of little benefit to a fit runner, breaking an aerobic run up during the day into two sessions is. In a study described in the June 2011 issue of Track and Cross Country Journal the authors discuss preventing overuse injuries in runners.  They found the risk for injuries increased proportionately with an increase in volume and injury risk had a more rapid increase with running intensity.1  The authors go on to state.  “Breaking up the running regimen into several shorter sessions during the day would improve tissue integrity through adaption, and at the same time allow more time for repair.  At least four hours should be allotted between each running session to assure that sensitivity to loading is being restored.”

One of my favorite running guru’s Tom Schwartz, a.k.a. the Tinman, suggests that depending on the timing of the second run an athlete can extend the benefits from the first run.  As an older runner I run a double every day except for my long run and on recovery days.  This allows me to maintain the higher mileage I need to maintain fitness without the wear and tear to my ‘old man legs’.

Although I do think the one training session per day will never be replaced by multiple sessions completely.  It is a consideration and adding two a day sessions in your week may be of benefit by extending the miles or minutes in your overall training without increasing the strain on your legs.  Taking a long range view, this can have the effect of extending the “running longevity” of a competitive athlete.   

Most younger competitive runners are now in their base phase as they prepare for the fall collegiate and high school racing season, a double session is a safe way to increase your mileage.  And we now know that multiple sessions are not “junk miles” and do have aerobic benefit.


*Coach Crowe is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team.*


W. Brent Edwards Ph.D.  and Timothy R. Derrick Ph.D. “Preventing Overuse Injuries in Running” Track & Cross Country Journal  Vol 1 issue 1

by Mark Spewak

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