Running for time or for distance

Some runners go for a run set on time. One hour to run. Easier to plan in a busy life. Others go for a run set on distance. A 10K loop. I think the choice is made upon personal liking and convenience. Thinking further, both approaches have their advantages and help your training in a different way.

This week, I read an article on "Runner's World": Running for Time vs. Distance. It's interesting. Something I thought was mainly based upon personal choice can actually change the effect of a training run. It's good to know. I already thought about that. This article helped me think beyond.

I always run for distance. I have my loops, around my neighborhood, for which I know the distance and the ways to extend or shorten if needed.

For my marathon, when I looked around to create my training plan, I consulted lots and lots of plans on the internet. But, the first thing I did (even without having to think about it) was to not consider the ones with workouts set on time. No brainer. It's intuitive. It's the way I run.

"RAPOG on the go" study

On my runs, I think about lots of various things. First world problems kind of things... or not. The problem is, my brain seems to work way slower while I run. So, I need MANY MANY runs for such an intensive study.

I often wonder why running for time was so unattractive to me. Why, a race set on time (like, for example, a 24 hours race) seems so dreadful for me and depicts a real ordeal. Pushing the thought a little further, why I don't like running a same loop multiple times or out and back part on a race or even on a run around my house.

I came to these conclusions.

First point:
I like running from point A to point B, without out and back. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Otherwise, I feel like a hamster running in its wheel.

Second point:
Psychologically, my brain is happy to "see the progression". I can cut my runs in parts. I know where I am and what's to come. I know how much further I have to run. It's a visual thing.

Third point:
On a bad running day, I know that if I keep pushing to hold a decent pace, my run will be over sooner. How can I stay motivated on a run based on time? Running faster won't make it stop sooner.

I work like that. It's an intuitive thing and, in my opinion, pretty specific to each person. I never had to think about running for time or for distance. It came naturally.

Still, I suspected running by time had its advantages too. This article helped me clearly define them. It's interesting to know about them in order to think about including that kind of workouts, depending on the goal of a run.

Running for time, according to the article

Running for time:

- helps identify your natural pace
- often ends up in an even pace effort

It's interesting for tempo runs as the goal is to work at a specific pace. (My tempo runs are set on time, but, I actually run them based on distance. Tempo pace + minutes at tempo pace = a distance.)

It's also an interesting choice after a running break and/or when in a bad running phase. Running for time will allow to avoid comparisons with paces to reach or paces we can't reach anymore.


How about you? Do you run for time or for distance? Which one do you prefer? Or, maybe, you don't mind? Did you already wonder about the advantages of these 2 approaches? Let me know!


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Next races

  • NONE

Miles / km

  • 1 mile = 1.6 km / 1 km = 0.6 mile
  • 5K = 3.1 miles
  • 10K = 6.2 miles
  • half marathon = 13.1 miles = 21.1 km
  • marathon = 26.2 miles = 42.2 km