Hello, my friends!! Welcome back to Coach Tip Tuesday!!
On the heels of Tiffany Barrett’s raging successful completion of IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant, I would love to talk to you all about something that we implemented as part of her preparation for that event: two-a-days in place of a longer run each week.
What the heck am I talking about?? Well, after some analyzing some data, Tiff and I found that running a long run on the weekends wasn’t working for her recovery-wise or lifestyle-wise. This presents a bit of a challenge for an athlete training for a long-distance event like an IRONMAN because one of the key pieces of preparation for an event of that duration is getting used to what it feels like to keep moving forward when fatigued. There are a limited number of ways that one can impose fatigue in training; the most common way is to complete a long workout in a particular discipline (i.e. a long run, ride, etc.).
In place of the “traditional” long run, we decided to try breaking that duration up into two runs that would be completed on the same day, but at least five hours apart from each other. So, for instance, in a week where we might have otherwise had her running a 3-hour long run, we had her run two 1.5-hour runs, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon/evening.
This method is a solid strategy for a lot of reasons. First of all, it reduces the amount of time that you are on your feet in a single workout, but doesn’t sacrifice the overall volume that you might need in order to be successful at a particular event. This therefore reduces the athlete’s injury risk, which is always something that I’m a fan of. Secondly, it is more manageable to fit in to your schedule; think about how many times you have three straight hours to work out. Carving time for two separate 1.5-hour sessions can often be a bit easier than trying to carve a 3-hour window. Third, it is a very good way to practice what it feels like to run on tired legs; in the second run of the day, there is fatigue that has built up. Training with some fatigue is especially important for athletes training for long-course triathlons, marathons, ultramarathons, or relay races.
In Tiff’s case, this method was incredibly successful. It fit better into her daily life, which meant that she was less stressed about her workouts. By itself, this method can help increase recovery from longer workouts, but with the decrease in stress, it accelerated that recovery even more for her. When it came time to race at IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant, Tiffany was as well-prepared (if not more so, honestly) than many other athletes on the course, and this was reflected in her finish times and other data (such as heart rate, cadence, etc.).
There are pros and cons to every choice when crafting a training plan, but this is definitely an option worth considering if you’re pressed for time or looking for a way to train long without as much impact on your body.
Have questions about this, or anything else training/coaching-related?? You know where I am. :)