Running is considered to be one of the best calorie-blasting and butt-kicking workouts which promises a healthier and fitter body. Whether you are looking forward to shedding those extra calories and fat, building muscle or simply enhancing your overall health, running would prove to be an ideal choice. From the mental perks to aesthetic benefits, the advantages are innumerable and this is perhaps the reason why so many people choose running over any other workout. However, one question that leaves several runners pondering is whether they should track miles or choose training by the minutes.
As is with all the other things associated with running, the answer to this question isn’t definitive.
For some, running with miles provides a quantitative element that is required to quench their thirst for information. On the other hand, for a few other runners, training by time offers a more adaptable and flexible plan.
By keeping this in mind, you would get to know the weaknesses and the strengths of each of the methods. Based on this, you would be able to decide which method might be the best one for you depending on your training requirements and experience level.
Training With Miles
Teaching Yourself to Push Further
When it comes to comparing miles to time and when training yourself for a race, a pivotal skill that you need to teach yourself is how to push further. This is especially true for the final parts of a race. Most experienced runners are aware of the fact that racing requires you to take the threshold of your pain to the next level.
Performing well in such a difficult race won't happen all of a sudden. You need to practice it during your training sessions.
When you are training by the minutes, it becomes difficult to have a fair idea of how much time is exactly remaining while on a repeat. There is, in fact, a cognitive disconnect regarding how much longer you need to run as the brain safeguards itself by trying to convince the body that it shouldn’t or can’t go any faster.
However, when you are running with miles, you would definitely get visual cues regarding how much more you need to run. When this data is processed by the brain, you would be able to run harder. This knowledge is even more useful if you are someone who generally struggles with racing’s mental aspect.
You might have issues with pushing yourself harder when your body starts to hurt during a race. In such cases, training with miles and implementing certain workouts would certainly help.
Teaching Yourself the Proper Technique of Pacing
For a runner, the 'pacing is an important skill to learn. When you run a few seconds too slow or too fast at some point of a race, it could lead to change in the primary energy system and that could, in turn, prove to be a disaster if you are trying to set a personal record.
Learning to pace is a challenging task and requires you to invest a lot of time and patience.
If you compare minutes to miles, training by the distance provides you with a quantitative and visual feedback which makes it very easy to keep certain paces better. On the other hand, time cues can only be imagined, aren’t directly observable and are more challenging cognitively.
Training by the Minutes
Sticking to a Suitable Training Effort
The biggest advantage of training by the minutes is the fact that it is easy to stick to a suitable training effort. For instance, when you are running by time, sixty minutes would be exactly sixty minutes; therefore attempting to run faster would only make this difficult for you. However, when you train by the miles, there’s always this temptation to run a bit faster. It could either be to boost your ego or to finish the race sooner.
This is essential to consider, as for a lot of runners one of the major causes that leads to injuries is proceeding ahead at a rate that is way too fast for the body to adapt. If we see this from a physiological perspective, the aerobic system definitely does improve at a faster rate as compared to the ligaments, tendons and the muscles.
This is perhaps the reason why you are able to run at a faster pace without having to breathe harder but the body isn’t actually ready to handle this sudden increase.
Also, being able to run faster on easier days isn’t a sign of getting fit and it isn’t essentially better than running at a slower pace. In fact, when you run at a faster pace on easy days, it leads on to negatively impact your body’s ability to recover from those hard workouts. Marathon training by time not distance would be ideal for those runners who cannot maintain a slower pace on their easy days. As there is no ego involved here, you would gradually begin to put in the appropriate effort required for the training.
Whether you are a Beginner or are Returning to Training
At times, it can actually be a rather demoralizing experience when you know what your exact pace is. For the experienced runners, getting back on track after an injury or returning from an injury can be quite challenging. The comparison between the current fitness to the previous workouts can especially be a hard thing to believe. Runners often eschew downtime or try to push too hard after an injury so as to avoid this feeling.
Similarly, a lot of amateur runners feel ashamed of their pace and always tend to compare their speed to that of their peers. They often have this imaginary conception regarding how fast real runners usually go. Not only is this demoralizing but is also counterproductive and can cause a lot of beginners to quit even before they have even started.
Rather than tracking intervals, run easy days by time and implement the fartlek workouts. This would help in eliminating the issues and thereby would help you keep motivated without having to push beyond your fitness capabilities.
Easy Run, Workouts or long Runs: What to Choose?
The key to being a wonderful runner is to run by minutes and easy on the easy days. This way you would be able to run harder on the hard days. For instance, if you run for let’s say 30 minutes on an easy day, you would be able to run easier and slower than what you normally do. When you run by the minutes on an easy day, you can attain your goal by simply focusing on the minutes assigned. The pace doesn’t matter here. This would set you up for a long run or the next workout thereby increasing your chances of running well.
Most people quantify workouts in minutes and this is because they are usually busy with hectic schedules. With minute-based workouts, you are aware of exactly how much time you need to workout on a weekday without having to rush. For instance, if you plan to warm up for 10 minutes, run for 40 minutes and then cool down for the next 10 minutes, you have a proper plan. The key here is to understand that your run is only going to take an hour.
When you are training for a half or a full marathon, at times you need to train yourself at the race pace. For marathon training, the runners must incorporate longer runs.
When it comes to running with miles or training by time, there is no clear winner. It all depends on the type of runner that you are as well as your particular weaknesses and strengths.
Depending on that, one or the other method would work or you. The best method might change depending on your fitness level and the certain aspects of your running that you need to improve on during the year. Don’t be scared of mixing it up a little so as to maximize your training.
Cover image source!