Run Training Compared – Minutes vs. Miles

Whether you are new to incorporating running in to your exercise routine, are an experienced distance runner or anywhere in between, the question of if you training correctly has probably entered your brain at some point.  Let’s start by acknowledging that there numerous ways to  to train through running. You might just go to the gym and set up the treadmill to simply “move” for 10-30 minutes and be satisfied. Conversely, if you are training for that 10k holiday race, you might be better off building your endurance by adding a certain number of miles every time you run. For speed, it’s all about working your intervals on your local track.

Each of the aforementioned ways of training is a tool and comes with benefits for the job in which is intended. So, there is really no “best” way to train, only what tools you need to accomplish your goals; and it all depends on what motivates you. In order to get some clarity around what each method of run training entails the following are some of the key points of training by both minutes and miles.

Train Safely – Running By the Minute

If you’re like many people who like to run a set number of minutes, you’re in good company.  This method is very “friendly” to fit in a daily routine. If your pace doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you get your 25 minutes in every days then this is probably your method. Also, for people starting out/re-engaging with running, it can provide great positive reinforcement by emphasizing how many minutes you can run, as opposed stressing out about pace and distance.

Seasoned runners who are coming back from an injury, or are prepping for a competitive season,  can also benefit by re-engaging in their training by doing so by minutes.  This method allows them focus their efforts on the appropriate effort they are putting in to their recover.  During the recovery/re-engagement process, your cardiovascular health will improve faster than your muscular health.  When re-engaging with the miles you think you should be able to do, it can be easy to overexert your legs before they are ready. You want to run at your peak level, but it just isn’t what your body needs now.

Remember that when you run according to time, a minute is the same no matter how fast you run. Alleviating any stress to achieve a certain distance enables you focus on your pace and gives your muscles the opportunity to build strength and endurance in a healthy way.

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Pace Training – Running By the Mile

To contrast running by minutes, mileage running definitely can have it’s place in a your training regimen. While milage runners typically seek to have more concrete performance data, there are other befits to this type of training as well. By nature, milage running encourages steady paces.  If you are trying to improve your speed, measuring your pace against milage markers allows for feedback on the treadmill; adding a nice incentive for monitoring your progress.

In training for a race, understanding what your current pace is in comparison to your distance within the race is important. This allows you know two things: If you can complete the race that you are scheduled, and what kind of pace you should be expecting on race day.  A lot of people tend to start their races too fast in the beginning, only to leave little energy for the final push to the finish line.  Monitoring your pace per mile allows for adjustments so you can tackle your races in harmony with your body’s natural rhythm.

If you are getting serious about incorporating running in to your fitness routine, you are very likely to run both by minute and mile a some point in your journey. If you routinely train by time, mix it up a bit and test yourself with your pace per mile; there are benefits. Conversely if you are always focused on your mile time, taking the pressure off to perform every time you run can benefit you greatly in both your physical and mental recovery.  Always remember to pay attention to what your body is telling you and schedule a running program to what can help you achieve your fitness goals.


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