"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beginner's Corner - Time vs. Distance

Rest day today.  Got some cross training in moving dirt around the yard.  It was a nice upper body workout.

It's time for another irregular episode of Beginner's Corner.  Today we'll look at running for time vs. distance.  There are a variety of opinions on the subject.  I'll just to try to share what I have learned so far.

When I started out with Couch to 5K I ran for time.  I'm sure some of you remember the C25K intervals.  Five minutes running, one minute walking, etc.  At the end of the program the idea was to be able to run 30 minutes or 5K.  By the end I could run 30 minutes no problem.  I couldn't go anywhere near 5K in that amount of time.  For people like me that aren't really fast (yet), running with a time goal seems more practical.  That way we don't push ourselves beyond what our body can handle and get hurt trying to hit a goal we aren't ready for.

For instance, I know my normal easy training pace is around 11:30 per mile.  So in an hour I can go about 5.2 miles.  Someone who's been running longer than me or who is just naturally faster might have an easy pace of around 8:30 per mile.  They would be able to go about 7 miles in the same amount of time and stress their bodies about the same as when I go 5.2 miles.

In his book "Daniels' Running Formula" coach Jack Daniels discourages long runs of much more than two hours for any ability level as he feels there are diminishing returns to runs over two hours and far greater chance of injury.  Want to go farher?  Daniels seems to encourage becoming faster over a given amount of time rather than just running for a longer amount of time.  His contention born out from a lifetime of coaching experience, is that no matter how fast or slow we are, we stress our bodies about the same over a given amount of time.

So, training by time I am controlling the amount of stress I put on my body and reducing the chance of injury.  I still measure the miles I ran later on so I can log them in the various miles games I participate in.  At this stage of my running life it's more important that I work up to two hours on my feet rather than some mileage goal for my long run.

I hope this helps explain why I choose to run for time instead of distance.  Hope you all had a great Monday!


Jen said...

This is interesting. I have been thinking about kicking back to running for time vs. distance lately. I get a little "number" crazed I think. Running for time would be an easier way for me to go back to enjoying the time I'm spending in the moment vs. focusing on the mile marker beep. I've been meaning to read Daniels...

Michael Smith said...

@Jen You will enjoy Daniels book. It is pretty heavy on the technical stuff, but there is lots of good information in there.