THE BLOG
12/28/2012 03:07 am ET | Updated Nov 11, 2013

Mental Toughness, Performance Training and the Birth of a New Sport: The Double Road Race

As a sports psychologist and top endurance athlete, I want to stay healthy and fit, just like you. And I'm always interested in a new challenge. Whether you're a runner, triathlete, cyclist, or a multi-sport athlete, if you're like me, you'd like to create more variety in your workouts and competitions so that you can stay motivated to keep going, right?

Well, I have discovered the perfect way to do just that. I found out that a new sport is coming to America Sunday, Dec. 23 in Pleasanton, Calif., and Bill Rodgers, the legendary three-time winner of the Boston Marathon is running it. It's the first-ever staging on American soil of a unique new running competition called the Double Road Race (or Double for short).

I've already signed up for the race and I just did my "Practice Double" for one of my workouts, so I'm psyched that I'm ready for this new challenge. So what is the Double?

It's a distance race consisting of two legs -- an opening 10k (6.2 miles) leg, followed by a 5k (3.1 miles) leg, with a short break in between, the winners to be decided on their best aggregate time.

What's exciting to me is that The Double is the brainchild of running visionary and innovator Bob Anderson, founder and former publisher of Runner's World magazine, and an avid runner for 50 years.

I interviewed Bob Anderson, creator of this new sport, about how this all got started, and about his vision for this new endurance event.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: Bob, tell me about your vision for this race?

Bob Anderson: Well, December 23 is a special day for me, and a milestone for all of us gathered on this historic occasion for the first Double Road Race ever held in America. It's also the end of my 50-race challenge I started a year ago celebrating 50 years of running. We are actually making a movie titled A Long Run documenting my adventure.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: Why are you having the event so close to Christmas?

Bob Anderson: It has not been easy to organize an event scheduled for Dec. 23, just two days before Christmas. Many people emailed us saying that they liked this date for an event like this. We have been encouraged by that. This date gives us a chance to get together with our families before Christmas, lace up our running shoes, and be part of a Christmas family event and world-class athletic competition all rolled into one.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: How did you come up with the idea for the Double Road Race?

Bob Anderson: It all started in the summer of 2010 when I was out on a training run with my son, Michael. As we ran, we reflected on the sudden increase in popularity of the half marathon. Perhaps that was due, in part, to the much shorter recovery time after a half marathon compared to the marathon itself. I love the half marathon, but I also felt running needed something new.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: You have been such a crucial part of the running boom right from the beginning. To put this all into perspective, why did you start Runner's World magazine?

Bob Anderson: I started Runner's World magazine when I was still in high school back in 1966 because I loved running-with a passion! I published the magazine for 18 years, during which time the circulation climbed to 450,000, before selling it to Rodale Press in 1984.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: And you've organized a large number of key races all across the U.S.?

Bob Anderson: Yes, being something of an innovator and idea man at heart, when I was publishing Runner's World I started the weekly Fun Run program (that grew to nearly 400 locations around the world), the Corporate Cup Relays, National Running Week and the 24-Hour Relay.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: Then you sold the magazine?

Bob Anderson: Yes, I sold the magazine, the years passed, and more time opened up for running-and ideas. Back to that run with Michael in 2010, our conversation ultimately turned to the triathlon, which is a competition I would have liked to try but never have because-keep this a secret!-I can't swim. I was telling Michael I thought running needed something special, something new. Like a triathlon, but different. A new event where both world-class runners and entire families could join together, challenge themselves and have fun!

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: So you came up with the idea for The Double?

Bob Anderson: Well, then an idea suddenly occurred on me! I said to Michael, "Let's do two long races in one day-almost back to back, with a short rest in between. Let's keep records. Let's set up some guidelines. Let's bring in some new ideas. Let's start a new sport." And that's how the Double Road Race was created. The name actually came later, the Double Road Race Federation was founded, we staged some trial Doubles in Mexico to experience and study the unique aspects of this challenge, and this brings us here today for the grand unveiling of this new competition, this new sport, to not only see history in the making but to be a part of it.

Our hope is to have at least 1000 runners in this first-ever Double on American soil. This is indeed already happening, and we think it's just the beginning. We expect to sell out this event, but there is still time, and you can get more information here.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: Bob, do you think training mentally is as important as your physical race?

Bob Anderson: Absolutely, I've always thought the mental part is huge and Dr. JoAnn I know the custom visualization mp3 files you've made for me and my own personal training have helped me tremendously with my 50 race challenge throughout this entire year, and for the Double.

Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter: I've already signed up for the race, and I'm working on my own sports psychology "mental game" as well as my physical workouts, so I'll be ready to run my best in the Double, as this new sport comes to America!

JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., Olympic keynote speaker and leading sports psychologist, is the founder of Performing Edge Coaching International Association, offering coach certification training, and the editorial director of www.DrJoAnn.com as well as #1 bestselling author of Your Performing Edge.

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