Operating at a distance VS working for time: Which is extra advantageous?
A Google search can get you many different types of racing training plans. Whether you train for a 10k, half marathon, or the full 26.2 marathon, you will find plenty of plans. The only thing that most training plans have in common is this: Most plans measure the amount you should run for the distance.
For example, it might read, "You should run 25 to 30 miles every week." You can see, "You run three shorter (3-5 miles) runs during the week and one long (8-10 miles) run every weekend."
While this has been the standard, there is a new mindset regarding education. This method is one that many athletes find liberating. In this type of workout, the runner focuses on how long they run, not how far. Some runners and coaches refer to this as time-on-foot training (TOF).
Benefits of running at a distance
As a runner, you need to get an idea of this tempo. Training at a distance allows you to work on improving a certain pace. For example, if I'm training to ride 10 km and it's the first time I've ridden this distance, I want to know that I can do this distance. Sure, if you've run 5 miles, you can run 6. However, if your goal is more than completion, you want to know what to expect on the racetrack!
As you exercise, you don't want to slow down from the first to the fifth or sixth mile. Every runner knows that negative or even splits are the goal for a strong performance on the pitch! If you are running with the times and are not paying attention to speed / pace or distance, you are not in the best position to make sure you are not slowing down significantly.
Tracking your run one mile at a time will give you a better idea of what you are running Mile splits are what can help you maintain a more steady pace while exercising. You can also work towards speeding up the final miles to get strong!
How do I run at a distance?
When you have a fancy smartwatch, it's very easy to run at a distance. You just press "start" or "go" and walk out the door. Regardless of the distance on your workout calendar, be sure to set off to accomplish this task. But what if you don't have a smartwatch like AppleWatch, TomTom or Garmin?
There are many apps for your smartphone that you can use to measure the distance traveled. Whether you're using RunKeeper or MapMyRun, you'll get updates on distance and pace. You can mute these functions if you want. Runners can also customize their updates to suit their needs. I've always set mine to update every mile.
A friend of mine prefers her updates every half a mile. She said that if she's either running too fast or too slow to achieve her goal, it helps her calibrate her pace.
As a trainer, I had preset loops that I would send the athletes on. They always knew the three specific loops we rode the most: 2, 2.5 and 3 miles respectively. Over time, the children knew where the mile and two-mile markers were. This enabled them to stay on target while exercising.
Running for time
Many distance athletes run for time rather than distance and there are many reasons why they prefer to. Before fancy watches and smartphones, that's exactly what most distance athletes did. Your coach would send you to run for 30 minutes, then turn around and come back.
The benefit of running for time rather than distance is that it helps you Relax and take some pressure off. Statistically, runners report that it is easier for them to complete a simple, longer run at a relaxed pace when tasked with their heads out for a certain amount of time, rather than a certain distance. The mindset just registers things differently depending on how you phrase things.
Many trainers working with novice runners especially support new runners who start training by using time rather than distance. If you train at a distance, you are more likely to compare yourself to other athletes. On the other hand, if you train over time, don't think about how far others have gone.
"30 Minute Run" is a straightforward workout plan for the day that doesn't have any expectation about how far or how fast you should go.
Ultramarathon runners who prepare for it on their feet 30 to 100 miles often train on time. When you think about it, the amount of time you are on your feet is much more important than how far you go.
Of course, you can't just go in for 5 hours, move only a short distance, and expect to grow as an athlete. However, if you made a commitment to do an endurance event, you probably wouldn't even consider doing it.
Is it better to run distance or time?
This trainer and avid runner believes that there is a time and place for both. Did you know that most runners don't run their easy runs slow enough? If you set out to run 10 miles, you will likely make them run faster than a simple running pace. However, if you tell yourself that you will be running at a super easy pace for an hour and 45 minutes, you may actually be slowing down.
If you are doing a pace run, you will likely want to measure it in distance. For example, if you train for 3 miles, you can cover a total of 5 miles. MIle One is a warm-up, miles 2, 3, and 4 are the pace you run at within 20 seconds of your racing pace, and mile 5 is a cool-down. Do you see the importance of taking distance measurements?
Some athletes strongly believe that your hard efforts on your training schedule should be by distance and other days by time. That would mean pace, speed work and Fartlek runs at a distance. Everything else should be more relaxed.
No watch me!
Don't assume that running over time means that everything is slow by the way. You can find that it's just liberating. Sometimes the worst enemy you have exists within the confines of your own head. My fastest 10 mile race ever was on a cold, rainy day in Pennsylvania. I couldn't see my face and had no idea what speed I was traveling at. When the race ended and I made it at the fastest pace I'd ever held for so long, I was shocked.
Known in the running community as No Watch Me, the idea isn't about focusing on the pace or time you're running. Some athletes cover their dials with painter's tape so they can't look at it!