Miles or Time? 3 Reasons to Run Using Time-Based Workouts
One question I’ve been asked often is “should I be running a certain distance or for a certain amount of time for each workout?”
There are varying views on this topic. Truly, in my opinion, there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way. The fact that you are running at all is all what really matters, and time versus miles is really a matter of preference. I do, however, have a few things to say on the matter that may convince you to eye your watch rather than the mile markers.
Why time-based workouts may have an edge
One standard for all athletes
Not all runners are equal. Some run effortlessly like a gazelle and others muster through it like a bear. So why have a gazelle run like a bear, or a bear like a gazelle? If I say “go out and run 6 miles at a conversational pace”, it may take one runner 45 minutes and another well over an hour. Do you think they both got the same benefit? And some athletes may have no business running 6 miles at that particular time in their training.
However, if I say “go out and run for 1 hour at a conversational pace”, everyone is on even ground. Yes, one will run more mileage than the other, but that is a result of just being a different athlete. Using a time-based workout allows for different athletes to reap the same benefits out of one workout. Although this may not apply to you if you write your own plans, you should definitely consider it if you use someone else’s.
Stay in the Zone
Time-based workouts are particularly helpful with slower workouts. Who hasn’t picked up the pace just a little bit on a slow, boring run just to get it done? A distance-based workout makes it easy to get in the miles, sometimes going too fast and compromising the benefit of the run because you can literally see the finish point.
A time-based workout in the same scenario, however, may keep you in the zone. If you can see the finish line, but know you still have 5 minutes left to go, you are probably going to take your sweet time getting there. After all, who wants to get back to your car and have to keep going?
No route planning needed
When I trained strictly by miles, I sometimes spent 30+ minutes trying to figure out a route that would get me as many miles as I needed. You know, create a route that starts and ends at the same place, something that isn’t too difficult to remember, etc. This is especially true when out of town.
Time-based running allows for the good ‘ole “out and back” with very little planning. I know that if I’m going to run for 1 hour I can run 30 minutes in one direction and come back. Very little thinking about planning, more thinking about running.
Why not have the best of both worlds?
I’m not saying that distance-based running doesn’t have it’s place. Who doesn’t like telling their friends they are going out for a 10-miler? And distance-based workouts may have an advantage when it comes to some faster runs.
Not to sound like a sales pitch, but we have created the best of both worlds at RUNfit 365. Our plans are based on time so that it provides the same benefit across all athletes AND they give you the approximate mileage for each workout.
The most important thing is that you get out there and run. Get the most out of your workout, enjoy your running, and do it again tomorrow.
Level 1 USAT Coach