Simple Fitness, Food and Health Hacks

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If Running is Hard for You, Stop Chasing a Distance and Start Running for Time

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Forget obsessing over your running mileage. Professional runner Tina Muir suggests a different approach – running for time instead of distance. 

This simple shift can reduce pressure, make running more enjoyable, and offer physical training benefits. Intrigued?

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If you’re a beginner, it can help you ease into running without feeling overwhelmed. And even if you’re an experienced runner, this method might be the change you need to reignite your passion for the sport.

Advantages of Running for Time

Mental Health Benefits:

Running for time significantly lowers the pressure and expectations that often accompany distance-based programs. This approach allows runners to enjoy the process more by eliminating the obsession with precise mileage, which can be a source of frustration and burnout. 

As Tina explains, this method brought a refreshing change, allowing her to focus more on the joy of running rather than the metrics.

Physical Health Benefits:

This training method adapts more easily to daily physical variations and external conditions like weather or terrain. Runners can adjust their effort based on how they feel on a particular day, which is especially useful for those recovering from injuries or managing health conditions. 

This flexibility helps maintain a steady progress without the risks of overtraining.

Why It Works for Beginners

For newcomers to running, the concept of time can be less daunting than distance. Thirty minutes of running might sound more achievable and less intimidating than covering a specific number of miles.

This approach helps beginners focus on building stamina and endurance gradually, without feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by comparisons with more seasoned runners.

Benefits for Experienced Runners

Even for veterans, running for time has distinct advantages. It shifts the focus from reaching a mileage goal to improving endurance and strength, regardless of the pace. 

This can be particularly liberating for those who are returning to running after a break or dealing with the psychological pressures of high expectations. Tina’s own experiences underscore how this method helped maintain her motivation and manage her training load more effectively.

Practical Tips for Implementing Time-Based Running

Setting Up Time-Based Goals:

Begin by determining what a comfortable running time is for you, whether it’s 15 minutes or 50 minutes. Gradually increase this time as your endurance improves. 

This approach helps maintain a clear progression path without the intimidation of increasing distances.

Structuring Time-Focused Workouts:

  • Easy Runs: Choose a fixed time for your easy runs and focus on maintaining a comfortable pace that allows for conversation. This helps ensure you’re running at a recovery pace, optimizing physical benefits without undue stress.
  • Interval Training: Set intervals based on time rather than distance. For example, run hard for 1 minute followed by 2 minutes of jogging. This can be an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness and speed without the pressure of covering a specific distance.
  • Long Runs: Decide on a time duration for your long runs, such as 1 hour or more, depending on your current fitness level. This focuses on building endurance based on time spent running rather than miles completed.

Monitoring Progress Without Mileage:

Utilize a running diary or digital app to track your progress, noting how you felt during each run, the effort level, and any other observations. 

Over time, you’ll see improvements in how long you can run comfortably, and how your recovery times decrease, providing qualitative data on your progress.

Embracing the Mental Shift:

Adjusting to running for time may require a mental shift, particularly for those accustomed to distance-based training. 

Focus on the benefits of this approach, such as reduced stress and a more adaptable training schedule, to fully embrace the change.

Conclusion

Running by time offers a refreshing alternative to traditional distance-based training, with benefits ranging from psychological relief to enhanced training adaptability. 

By focusing on time spent running rather than distance covered, runners can enjoy a more flexible, enjoyable, and potentially more rewarding running experience.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to get started or an experienced runner seeking a change, consider giving time-based running a try to potentially transform your training approach.

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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