It’s a fine art to juggle three sports, especially when you’re training multiple times a day. Here are some basic guidelines on how to best schedule your runs around other workouts.
Consider the following factors when tackling a “daily double”:
Type: Swimming, biking and running cause different degrees of muscle tissue breakdown. Swimming causes the least muscle trauma, then biking, and running causes the most. Avoid double workouts of the same type on the same day—the added damage from the second session will likely just slow recovery and provide less benefit.
Intensity: You should usually put your highest intensity or quality session of the day first. Being fully recovered with a night’s sleep will give you a better intensity session and lead to bigger training gains. If you fare better with intensity at night, make sure the morning session is kept fully aerobic and isn’t too long. Combining a hard running session in the same day as a hard bike session will most likely lead to subpar performance and will greatly increase the recovery time needed from a running session that was placed second.
Experience: Every athlete has different strengths and weaknesses. One athlete might be able to put together a quality track session and a hard intensity swim later in the day because he is a stronger swimmer. Perhaps he needs to work on his running, so a good combination would be to put his weaker sport first.
Fuel: Nutrition during and after the day’s first session is even more critical than normal on a double day. Make sure to eat within 30 minutes of your first workout to replenish carbohydrate stores for the second bout.
Good Workout Pairing #1
A.M: Long run
P.M.: Swim with long, steady sets and drill work Why: Running first will make sure you maintain proper form and not cut it short. The swim lets you recover, loosen up and spend some time improving technique.
Good Workout Pairing #2
A.M.: Tempo run
P.M.: Easy bike with cadence and form drills
Why: Put the intensity session first, followed by an easy, form-focused ride that can also double as active recovery.
Poor Workout Pairing #1
A.M.: Running hill repeats
P.M.: Long run
Why: A double run can be an OK idea if you’re splitting up your long run because of scheduling or you’re coming back from injury, but a high-intensity session paired with a long run can delay recovery or lead to injuries.
Poor Workout Pairing #2
A.M.: Bike intensity intervals
P.M.: Track running session
Why: The cycling session that morning will lessen the value of the track session because you won’t be able to run at the speeds needed to obtain the gains from the track workout.