Middletown Athletic Club

(serving the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend, Delaware Running Community since 2002)

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is."  - Kara Goucher

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  • Thoughts on the Run - "Miles vs Minutes" by Andy Shearer

Thoughts on the Run - "Miles vs Minutes" by Andy Shearer

May 30, 2023 12:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

So, how far did YOU run today?  It’s water-cooler fodder for anyone who runs and for anyone who knows you run.  People are fascinated with how far runners have run.  Most runners are also retentive to a fault about their mileage. 

How far is a 5k?  How many miles is a marathon?  How many miles do you run every week?  That one is, of course, is always followed by, “I don’t even drive that far!”.  Gotta love predictability.  How many miles, how many miles, miles, miles, miles.  It’s like ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha’ (a cheesy Brady Bunch reference).  But it wasn’t always about Marsha now, was it?  Sometimes Jan or Cindy got a storyline, too. 

Too many runners are obsessed with how far they run.  A number of years ago, I trained with a pretty competitive group in Virginia.  One of the runners was a 3:45 1500 meter runner in college who had a problem with the time-space continuum.  A 7.5 mile run would end up somehow being 9 miles.  11 miles became 12.  In other words, he ‘fudged’. And at the end of the day, he was really cheating himself.   

I’ve run into way too many obsessed runners, more concerned about getting in ‘miles’ and not so concerned about the quality of those miles, or by way of the paragraph above, whether they actually RAN those miles.  Silly me…

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those runners who can’t seem to get past a certain mileage threshold.  Whether it’s two miles or 12, they hit a wall.  It could be a mental one or it could be a physical one. But that next mile is almost impossible to get to. And to be honest, going from two miles to three miles is somewhat daunting.  I mean, it’s a 33% jump! 

I’ve gotten less concerned about miles, miles, miles the past several years and have instead started doing more of my training based in minutes, minutes, minutes.  It may take someone 60 minutes to run six miles, but then again it could take them 66 minutes or 54 minutes.  But 60 minutes is 60 minutes.  By removing the ‘how many miles did I do?’ from the equation, runs become more manageable, meaningful and pleasant.  No pressure.  If only my Virginia friend would have realized that.

Running by minutes is also a great way to get over that hurdle of lengthening your runs.  Going from three miles to four miles may seem huge, and it is.  It’s a 25% increase!  But going from 30 minutes to 34 minutes, then 38 minutes, then 40 minutes… the progression seems natural.  AND the pressure of how FAST you run those miles is removed. 

I do most of my runs these days based on time, and not distance.  I can guess how far I ran, but that’s not the point.  The point is to enjoy the run with little or no pressure of performance.  Occasionally, my runs take on different forms, but my runs are for my mind and not my log book.  By the way, I train most of my athletes by minutes… almost guarantees they’ll all be back in time for the group stretch. 

Whether you’re at a training roadblock or are tired of being driven by miles, miles, miles, start doing more of your running by minutes and stop obsessing so much about the distance.  30 minutes of running is 30 minutes of running, no matter how far you go.  You may find yourself more relaxed and able to jump to that next level. 

Oh, and if you REALLY want to mess with your running friends, start doing what I did back in 2012… run by kilometers.  My Virginia friend would approve.  And wow, my running log totals looked really impressive that year. 

I hope to see you on the roads, tracks and trails.  And bring your watch. 

Middletown Athletic Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 99 Willow Grove Mill Drive, Middletown, DE 19709

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