Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan Chabert is an entrepreneur, husband, ultramarathon distance runner and owner of runnerclick.com – and has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.
Which is better: checking off minutes or marking off miles?
It’s a question many runners have, and your results and goals can vary vastly from one to the other. It’s nice to say you’ve been running for however long and still pushing strong, but if you’re hardly covering ground, does it mean much? It’s also just as rewarding to look at a map and see just how many miles you’ve covered. But does it put too much pressure on you?
Both minutes and miles make for a great tracking mechanism when it comes to daily training as a runner or general athlete. Which is better? As is usually the case, there’s no easy, straightforward answer.
✓ Measuring by time allows you to adjust your run to focus on endurance and simple enjoyment of moving and exercising.
✓ Counting up miles, though, really makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
For those with competitive tendencies, it’s hardly possible to run without logging miles. Using both really appeals to those who need data and who want to make gains in both endurance and time. In short, the question of minutes or miles (or both) depends on what your goals are!
When To Use Minutes
For one thing, using minutes is more practical than miles.
The amount of time you put into miles can really vary day to day based on how you feel, what the weather’s like, etc., whereas when you’ve got a set thirty, sixty, or however many minutes workout, you can be sure to finish on time. For those who have to stick to a schedule, this is the clear winner.
Training by minutes is appealing to runners who just aren’t as serious about making gains. It’s also appealing to those who are new to running or who really don’t even want to know how slow their pace is.
It can be upsetting to see how out of shape you are, or how you measure up compared to your peers, and sometimes you’re better off not knowing yet. If your goal is to get in shape or up your cardio game, who cares how many miles you’re covering anyway? That doesn’t mean measuring by minutes isn’t for more serious runners, though.
Running for enjoyment
Those who tend to push themselves too hard can really benefit from measuring by minutes for some of their runs throughout the week. This is because there’s less of a goal involved – you won’t feel the need to run your legs off just because you’re not racking up as many miles as you’d like to.
✓ The chances of getting injured from pushing too hard when you’re measuring by time are slim. This is because no matter how fast you run, it’s going to take the same amount of time. And that’s a welcome break that your body needs.
✓ Running by minutes will remind you to enjoy what you’re doing for more than being competitive.
When To Use Miles
Measuring by miles is a more accurate measurement when it comes to your condition.
This includes how in shape you are, how you’re doing on pacing, and how you can improve as a serious runner. On days you want to push yourself, measure by miles and minutes together.
✓ Track your progress with a running app for data-packed information on how to improve your time.
There are numerous apps with pacing monitors throughout your run that can clue you into when you struggle and when you’re running your best. Many running apps have personal trainers in your ear to let you know how fast you’re going per mile, what your pace is, and how close you are to your goal. Some even come with custom training plans for you to reach your goals.
Clearly, logging miles is meant for the more serious or competitive runner with a real, specific goal in mind.
✓ This doesn’t mean mile-counting is better than tracking minutes – it’s just meant for more competitive running that’s goal-based.
Minutes Versus Miles
Research comes up with a result you’d probably expect on the minutes versus miles debate.
When you’re focused on minutes, you’ll stick to an even pace throughout your run. You won’t feel the need to go wild when the end of the race comes up, because it’s going to end at the same time no matter how fast you run.
If you’re basing your run on miles, though, you’re much more likely to push yourself harder to hit a faster time. Tracking miles is definitely more appealing to runners who are goal-oriented.
Perhaps the best answer is to try out a bit of both!
✓ On your easy days or when you need a break from competition, let yourself measure your run by minutes. If you’re just getting in shape or consider yourself a casual runner, don’t worry about logging miles.
✓ But when you’re looking to push yourself and really train hard for a race, you better be measuring distance covered in miles.