Is it smart to run for a time rather than a distance?

In training for the Dublin Marathon and really in general for my running, I have been thinking about just running for time and not trying to worry about the distance. This is purely for my easier/longer runs as I don’t want to feel the pressure of trying to get a 10km or 10 miler or half etc under a certain time. If I try to flip it mentally and just say, I am going to run for 3 hours, let’s see how far I get by the end of it. Then I think it might help me a little bit. I asked the good folks at UKRUNCHAT what they thought and here are their suggestions

Some really liked the idea and do it themselves

The line “time on feet” was the big one that I could take home from a lot of responses I received. Knowing others do this and are used to it reassured me a bit. I had always thought the 6 hour races were a really handy way to get some mileage in without having to worry about times or anything like that and to get my body used to travelling for so long on foot.

Apparently it is the way ultra runners train which is good to know when I finally decide to train and compete in the Belfast 24 race next year. Which makes total sense as they are running for insane periods of time.

Taking it slow can clear your head

I had this as a response and I totally get it. When you are on a shorter run or a run where you are intending to make it to a distance, all you think about is that distance. You can try and let it leave you, but it will still be there and that sucks. Whereas just thinking “oh it’s 11:00 I will finish up around 15:00 is such a better way for my brain to work it out as even if I walk for a tiny bit I know I am getting that time on my feet and most importantly I can clear some thoughts from my head.

When I was running more often I would always use a run to help clear my head, I would focus on just running and then the times and distance would go to the background and I would think things through that were on my mind and by the end of the run I would feel great mentally and physically as I had worked through a lot of the problems I had stored in my head. I would very much like to return to that way, but lately my runs have been plagued with overthinking.

Things like “I need to get home in time for this” or “I am going so slow, should I keep going?”, or the dreaded “do I need to poo” that one does not simply leave your brain let me tell you that for free. A part of it is when I am running and I think a change in how I am looking at the runs will help me greatly. Just to get out of my head will be great for the run.

It’s good to mix it up

Some people commented that they use it as part of their training. For example one person stated that they would use the weekday runs as timed so they would run for one or two hours and then use the weekend as their distance run. This was quite interesting to me as I would have imagined the long run would be the time one. So I might try to mix that up throughout the Autumn and Winter months to keep me on my toes!

I guess it should be treated the same as a cycle or rowing when at the gym or outside. You don’t really know the distance you are going, you just keep going…

Handling that 0.9 mile or kilometre…

This one made me laugh quite a bit, but then I realised how annoying that would be to run for that long and then willingly accept that you will not complete that mile even if you are a few hundred meters or yards away from evening it up. I do think at that point when I would check for the time that if the distance was close I would go over the allotted amount to even it out. At first I thought I wouldn’t but deep down I totally would! If you can stop willingly before that distance then you are a better person than I could ever be!

Helps get rid of the junk miles and over training

This was a great comment for the reason I said at the start of the post. I have been over thinking during my runs and those runs and miles have become junk miles and not something I could really consider good for my training. I know you are meant to take something from every run, but if it is bad… I don’t know how I could really. So just saying “I am going to run for an hour” and then just doing that, could switch how I feel mentally about the run.

I am planning on running tonight and I think I might go for a cheeky 2 hour run and see how I feel about it! Until next time! As always, if you are interested in running, please follow the #ukrunchat on Twitter and every Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm there is an open forum (though lots of people answer questions etc throughout the week) for any running queries!

If you want to chat more about any of my posts, please follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook to also receive updates. Until next time, thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!

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