Double or Nothing

Before I begin this blog post, everyone get your heads out of the gutter. We’re all good? Ok.

This week, I did my first two-a-day.

Regrettably, a two-a-day is not the duo of lobsters I’d promised in an earlier post, nor is it an afternoon delight with both my boyfriend and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Apparently, I needed you to take your head out of the gutter to make room for mine.)

For all you non-runners out there, a two-a-day is a training technique that has runners running, well, twice a day. (Creative naming was never our strong suit.) Traditionally considered a weapon in the arsenal of elite athletes only, it has quickly made its way into the routines of non-Kenyans worldwide and, on Wednesday, into mine.

Previously of the just-wake-up-and-run camp, I’d never considered legitimate fitness-honing workouts until two people I love bought me dueling subscriptions to Runner’s World and Running Times for Christmas.

(Quick aside: does anyone else get both magazines and, if so, has anyone else noticed the palpable rivalry? Check out this jab about Bill Pierce’s elite training program from a recent Running Times article: “That the program had been featured in Runner’s World had led my hard-core friends to think it wasn’t for serious runners.” Burn!)

Fortunately, I love both magazines equally, so I read both cover to cover each month, and it was in the same January 2012 Running Times that I first read about two-a-days. The article – which I would link to if the magazine put it online, but the modern print editorial model weirdly requires publications to, you know, make money – argues that breaking a day’s miles into two shorter sessions works wonders on the body.

According to author Steve Magness, the benefits are expansive. First, the obvious: “By running shorter twice, you don’t beat your body up as much as on a longer single run. Then, the physical: “You’re now running in a pre-fatigued state. Doing so allows you to access different muscle fibers that you might not normally train, or to push slightly more into the depths of glycogen depletion that would be normal.”

There’s even something for the Californian governors out there: “You get an increase in blood flow twice to help with recovery, and perhaps more importantly an increase in hormones, such as human growth hormone.” That hormonal infusion is key to getting you recovered for the next day’s training session, Magness says. Or in other words, you’ll be back.

Professional runners may break their days down into two double-digit mile sessions, but I started easy: two miles of hill repeats in the morning, followed by a four-mile tempo run at night. I’m not sure if it was the pre-fatigued muscles or the fear that I’d be pancaked by the speeding traffic they apparently let into the park at night, but my four-mile evening run flew by. I don’t own a Garmin GPS watch (hello, generous benefactors!), but it felt like I was cruising at around an 8:35 pace, which is fine in my book.

The two-a-day felt great, but more importantly, it looks great on my training log, and isn’t that what really matters here?

Speaking of doubles, my 85-year-old New England grandmother and I bet $5 on the recent Ravens-Patriots game (little did I know, she had already paid off Billy Cundiff.) Too stubborn to mail her her winnings, I’ve opted to go double-or-nothing for Sunday’s Pats game vs. my adopted New York team. Let’s go Big Blue: help me extort money from a sweet old lady!  (Gram, I know you read this, and you’re going down.)

What workout/gambling plans are on your weekend agenda?


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