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UjENA FIT Club 100 Interesting Running Articles

Best Road Races and the UjENA FIT Club is publishing 100 articles about races, training, diet, shoes and coaching.   If you would like to contribute to this feature, send an email to Bob Anderson at bob@ujena.com .  We are looking for cutting edge material.

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Pleasanton: The Masters of Double Racing
Posted Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
By David Prokop Pleasanton, Calif., may be a quiet, relaxed community across the bay from San Francisco, but where Double... Read Article
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Champions of the Double
Posted Monday, September 15th, 2014
Peter Mullin has taken Double Racing® by storm. He broke the 60-64 age group world record in the first Double... Read Article
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Double Racing Has Truly Arrived!
Posted Monday, September 22nd, 2014
by David Prokop (Editor Best Road Races) Photo: Double 15k top three Double Racing® is a new sport for... Read Article
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Pritz's Honor
Posted Sunday, May 11th, 2014
By David Prokop, editor Best Road Races The world’s most unusual race met the world’s most beautiful place, in the... Read Article

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Training For the Double Road Race...
Monday, November 26th, 2012
Is no different than training for any other distance event, except for one major exception!
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by Dave Prokop

Wherever he goes these days, Bob Anderson is asked about his unique creation, the Double Road Race™, “How do you train for this?”

That’s what everyone wants to know – and it’s perfectly understandable considering that the Pleasanton Double on Dec. 23 (a 10K road race, followed 1 hour, 45 minutes later by a 5K road race, so most runners get about a one hour recovery break) will be the first time the competition is held in America.

That being the case, and since the overwhelming majority of  the  participants has never run in anything like this, the consensus opinion is that no one really knows how to train for it.

I disagree. If you already know how to train for a distance race, you know how to train for the Double, because the Double is a distance running event, albeit a very unique and unusual one. And how do you train for a distance running event? You get in the best possible shape you can. There’s no mystery about that.

Photo: Kevin (1766) will be running the Double.  He was first master at the Run Wild For A Child 5k in SF Nov 25.  Peter (1656) might be running.

We are not going to dwell here on how you can get as fit as possible. We’ll assume that if you’re a distance runner (whatever your level of ability) and you have entered the Double, you basically know how to train.

And fundamentally training for the Double is no different than training for any other distance event, except for one major exception. This distance event comes in two parts with a break in between. Does that mean you change your basic training? No. Does it mean you have to fine tune or tailor your training to accommodate this unique feature? Yes.

Exercise physiologists talk about ”specificity of training,” which means that your training has to be specific to the physical demands of the particular sport or event. That’s why 100-meter sprinters don’t do 10-15 mile runs, and marathoners don’t run endless 30-meter bursts out of a crouched start from a set of starting blocks.

In the Double you’re running two long distances back to back – in fact, the two longest  distances contested on the track in the Olympic Games. Clearly, this takes stamina, and the nuts and bolts of your training has to be the stuff that all distance runners do, in the focused way they do it – or as the great Hungarian distance running coach Mihaly Igloi  once summed it up, in his less than fluent English, “Hard work must make.” But from the standpoint of specificity of training, how do you prepare to run a 10K and a 5K back to back like that? 

                          *                         *                         *                         *                            

Commonsense tells us you need to do at least some workouts that mimic the physical and psychological demands of the Double itself. For want of a better term, let’s call these Dress Rehearsal Workouts.  They should not take the place of your basic workouts, but instead should be added to your training regimen to fine tune or tailor your training for the specific and unique challenge that is the Double.

Photo: Runners of all ages and ability will be running the Double in Pleasanton.  Barbara is 78-years-old and she has entered a team.  64-year-old Bob Anderson has a team too.

At this point you can probably conceptualize some workouts that might fit into this category yourself, but if I may let me offer a few suggested workouts that I think would fit the bill admirably:

1. Run 4 miles, followed by a 30-45 minute rest, then run 2 miles – at perhaps the same relative speed per mile you’d hope to run in the 10K and the 5K of the Double itself. This workout would be an under-distance version of the Double.

2. Run 10 miles, followed by a 45-60 minute break, then run 5 miles – at a much slower pace than you’d hope to run in the Double. This workout would be an over-distance version of the Double.

3. Run 2 X 3 miles, with a 15-30 minute rest in between, as fast as you can comfortably go – train, don’t strain – to get used to running, resting, then running again. You’ll have an easier time of it physically and mentally in the Double if you get used to this.

Photo: Tim, Bob and Bill at the recent San Jose Turkey Trot.  All are trying to figure out how to train for the Double.

4. If you want to do a harder workout, one in which the total mileage almost equals the distance of the Double itself, you could do 3 X 3 miles, with a 15-30 minute rest in between.

5. A handy way to get used to the feel and rhythm of the Double, it seems to me, is to break some of your training runs into two. Not in half, but roughly in the 2:1 proportion of the Double.  For instance, instead of doing a 10-mile training run, do 6 ½ miles, rest 45-60 minutes, then run 3 ½ miles.

Photo: Adding to the challenge is the weather and the fact it gets dark so easy.  But real runners figure it out.  We always do...

Comments and Feedback
run Dave Prokop has put together some really good information here about training for the Double Road Race!
Bob Anderson 11/26/12 7:53 pm

6. If you have the opportunity, enter a race a couple of weeks before the Pleasanton Double, preferably a race in the 10K range. But after you run the race, take a 45-60 minute break, then do a 2-3 mile workout as hard as you can or want. This is what elite marathoner Tyler McCandless, one of the favorites to win the Pleasanton Double, told us he plans to do.

Photo: Top Master Runner, Verity Breen has put together a team of three for the Double.

7. Run the exact distances you’ll be running in the Double – 10K, followed by the rest break, then a 5K – but at a much slower pace than you’d  hope to run in the competition itself. This, too, will give you the feel and rhythm of the event, which is important since you don’t want to go into the competition without knowing what to expect. But I would be particularly careful to take it slow and easy in this workout. You don’t want to create a situation where you psyche yourself out if you’re having trouble maintaining a good pace or the experience just feels too hard. Remember, it will probably be a whole different situation in the race itself when there are runners around you and the adrenaline is pumping.

8. If you haven’t already been doing this in your training, add some interval workouts to your program – you know, where you run a given distance at a challenging pace (it could be anywhere from 100 yards to 5-6 miles), take a rest, run the distance again, take a rest, etc. The reason you want to add this to your training, if you haven’t already been doing it, is that interval training is a superior way to get in really tip top condition than doing steady runs exclusively, not that steady runs aren’t important. Besides, the Double is a form of interval workout, with an unusually long rest between the two runs. So in a manner of speaking, an interval workout, particularly one where you’re running a fairly long distance two or three times, is a form of dress rehearsal for the Double itself. 

                         *                         *                         *                         *

Some important points I want to stress about these so-called Dress Rehearsal Workouts:

* To repeat what I said initially, I would suggest you focus the bulk of your time, attention and energy on your regular workouts to get in better and better shape for the Double. Only do these Dress Rehearsal Workouts maybe once or twice a week – if that – to fine tune your preparation for the Double.                                                

* You’ll probably find that even if you run the opening distance slowly in workouts like 4 miles, rest, 2 miles, or 10 miles, rest, 5 miles, the second segment will still feel hard -- at least when you first get back to running. Bob Anderson himself told me this has been his experience. I think it’s because as runners, we are not accustomed to running 4 miles or 10 miles (at any speed), then coming back approximately an hour later and running again. You need to recognize this and deal with it.  In a sense you need to re-program yourself (these Dress Rehearsal Workouts will help you do that), and discipline yourself  by relying on something like the credo I’ve learned to adhere to in my many years as a  runner – I tell my body what to do, it doesn’t tell me what to do. Please understand, it’s not that I don’t listen to my body. It’s that I recognized long ago that your mind and body can lie to you, telling you you’re tired or exhausted when, if fact, you’re not.

* This is a key point! The Double actually consists of three segments, not two – Run, Rest, Run! And the middle one may be just as important, if not more so, than the other two. What you do during the recovery break is crucial to how you do in the concluding 5K leg and thus in the competition overall. It makes no difference how fast you ran the 10K leg; if you stiffen up like a board during the rest break so you can barely move in the 5K, what have you accomplished? Therefore, I would suggest that in doing these Dress Rehearsal Workouts, you pay careful attention to what you do during the rest break. Experiment! This is the time to do it. Should you sit down or lie down, mow the lawn, vacuum the floor, walk around the block or track (if you’ve been running on a track), what?

My own preference would be to keep moving around, perhaps by walking, or riding an exercise bike at a very leisurely speed. I’ll share a story with you. Many years ago I stumbled across a solution to how one can avoid that rigor mortis type of stiffness we’ve all experienced right after a marathon. No coach ever told me this, I never read it in a book or magazine; I just happened upon the solution purely by happenstance – and now I’d like to share it with you.

I had driven with some other runners from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Avenue of the Giants Marathon in the redwood country of Northern California. Right after I finished the race in 2 hours, 47 minutes, I was asked by the people I had driven up with if I could help them put fliers on the windshields of all the cars parked in the immediate vicinity publicizing an upcoming race they were promoting. So for the next 45 minutes to an hour I just kept strolling around placing these fliers on the windshields. 

An amazing thing happened! On the drive back to the Bay Area and the day after, I experienced no residual stiffness – I mean none whatsoever! – from running a 2:47 marathon. It was the first time that had ever happened during my running career, which was then in its 31st year and counting – and I attributed it to all that walking I did after the race placing those fliers on the car windshields.

*One thing that’s almost a given in the Double (and we have already alluded to this) is that whatever pace you run in the 10K, you’ll probably feel tired when you start the concluding 5K leg. Tired physically and maybe psychologically – and possibly stiff – but tired. A lot of this may be more psychological than physical. You must get used to this and learn how to deal with it. These Dress Rehearsal Workouts are your opportunity to do that. Like triathletes who consciously practice jumping off their bike after a hard ride, then immediately going for a run so their body gets used to making that transition from riding to running, it seems to me you need to do something akin to that in the Double – run the 10K, recuperate during the rest break, then be able to get right into your normal running stride and your desired pace the moment the gun goes off in the 5K. That takes practice, maybe a healthy dose of mind over matter – and an appropriate warmup before you start the 5K. Experiment with this in these Dress Rehearsal Workouts.

I realize that after you’ve run the 10K, perhaps pushing yourself very hard, you may not want to go through another warmup before the 5K. But even if you’re somewhat stiff and the warmup hurts and your mind is telling you that you want to conserve every last bit of energy for the 5K to come, do a warmup anyway – and the time to start practicing that is during these Dress Rehearsal Workouts when applicable. You see, without a proper warmup.  you may find that it takes you 400 to 800 yards to “get your legs under you” in the 5K. But if you warm up properly, you should be able to run as effectively from the gun in the 5K as you would after 400-800 yards if you didn’t warm up. Fact is – whatever your level of ability, you really shouldn’t have to lose time in the Double by taking half a mile to get yourself going in the 5K, and if you’re an elite runner hoping to win, taking half a mile to get going would prove fatal, a classic case of the train having left the station because your main competitors who did warm up will be long gone before you get untracked.  So whatever your level of ability, do yourself a favor and warm up appropriately before the concluding 5K leg.

* Finally, the Double – by its very nature – will probably require that you keep yourself going at a reasonable pace in the 5K when you’re tired, maybe even dead tired. In other words, you have to learn how to run when you’re tired. Strange as it may sound, you can practice how to do this – and these Dress Rehearsal Workouts are the perfect time to do it, because in most of them you’ll do a run, take a longer rest than you would in a regular interval-type workout, then run again – exactly what you’ll be doing in the Double. If you find the first run in these workouts leaves you feeling tired in the second run, good! What a perfect opportunity to train yourself to run when tired. And, after all, the concluding leg of the Double is only 5K. It’s not like “hitting the wall” in a marathon at 18 miles and still having eight miles to run.

When I was training for the U.S. 50-Mile Track Championships in 1977, I realized that sometime during the race, hopefully later rather than earlier in running 200 laps around a quarter-mile track, it would probably become really difficult and you were going to have to keep going when you were very tired. Since it wasn’t practical to run 50 miles in training to simulate what it was going to feel like in an actual 50-mile race, I would actually welcome those days in my training when I was feeling generally tired. Rather than taking a day off, I would make it a point to go out and run so I could take advantage of the opportunity to keep going, to endure, even when I was tired.

Sure enough, it did get really difficult late in the race – at 47 ½ miles, when I just felt like lying down on that soft infield grass at the Santa Monica City College track rather than continuing – but I had trained myself purposely to keep going even when I was tired. Ultimately I finished 6th  in the race, becoming the U.S. champion in the 35 and over age category and setting a Canadian record of 6 hours, 10 minutes, 44 seconds in the process.

 You can work on things like this and much more in these Dress Rehearsal Workouts. But don’t overdo it.  You want to be well trained for the Double, but also well rested. And you certainly don’t want to run yourself into an injury.    

                          *                         *                         *                         *

In offering these suggestions on how to tailor or fine tune your training to be best prepared for the Double – whatever your ability level – I must confess I have never run the Double.  What I have done, however, is:

* I was a member in 1972 of the two-man team that set a world record of 149 miles in the 24-Hour Relay, a Bob Anderson creation as is the Double. My teammate and I ran alternate miles.

* I was also a member the following year of the seven-man team that set a world record of 249 miles in the 24-Hour Relay, again running alternate miles. Taking the baton every 42 minutes or so all day and all night, I was one of three runners on the team to run every mile under six minutes – no picnic when you’re running 32 miles total in a 24-hour period!

* In 1980 I ran from Fort Battleford to Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada, a distance of 93 miles, in just over 16 hours, alternately running 15 minutes and resting five minutes the whole way, and

* On my 50th birthday I ran 50 miles on a track, alternately running seven laps (1 ¾ miles) and resting five minutes on a day the temperature reached almost 110 degrees!

I mention this not to prove I’m crazy or to brag, but to show I’ve got a lot of experience at the type of run-stop-run approach involved in the Double. Plus I’ve been a serious runner for 55 years, a dedicated student of the sport, a track coach (one of my athletes, Donna Valaitis, won four Canadian distance running championships in 1976), and, of course, as a writer I’ve interviewed and written about many of the great distance runners of our time.

If I was preparing for the Double, I’d concentrate on getting into the best possible shape I could by doing the kind of basic training all runners do, then fine tune my training the last few weeks before the Double so I’d be familiar with and physically/mentally prepared for its unique and particular demands.

To me, that’s basic commonsense. What do you think?

Double Road Race