Ought to You Practice By Time Or By Distance?

Some of the widespread debates in coaching is whether or not it’s higher to base exercises on time or distance. On the planet of extremely races, working based mostly on time is an accepted method, even in competitors. (In 24-hour races, the runner who covers essentially the most distance within the allotted time wins.)

The recognition of utilizing distance to gauge a exercise is likely to be as a result of the truth that most races are outlined by their size. You’ll be onerous pressed to discover a coaching plan that doesn’t embrace specifics reminiscent of 400-meter repeats, a 2–4-mile tempo run or a defined-distance long term.

In hopes of shedding mild on a few of the variations between working based mostly on time and distance, a examine printed in Medication & Science in Sports activities and Train examined 38 youngsters in a 750-meter run. Whereas most of us are extra skilled runners than these youngsters, the outcomes present an fascinating perspective on how our grownup coaching practices come into play.

First, the researchers had all 38 children run a 750-meter time trial as quick as they might. Then they break up them into two teams — one ran the 750-meter trial once more and the opposite ran for the period of time it took them to run the primary trial. For the previous group, they managed to cowl the 750 meters in about the identical period of time. The opposite group that ran based mostly on time, nonetheless, coated considerably much less distance than they did the primary time.

The researchers concluded that this was seemingly a results of the truth that time cues are much less tangible and due to this fact make it tougher to evaluate tempo than info based mostly on distance the place, for instance, you may really see the end line. Give your self a concrete distance to finish to your subsequent all-out exercise or time trial and also you may simply go slightly quicker.

Along with noting a distinction between time and distance, the examine reveals that every method has its personal operate relying on the specified consequence. “There are completely different instances within the coaching cycle and the season when an athlete wants to coach on time or distance,” explains Jennifer Harrison, a USA Triathlon Stage 2 Coach based mostly within the Chicago space.

She means that working based mostly on time is available in significantly useful when an athlete is within the offseason, placing in base mileage, or is coming back from an damage. “That approach, the athlete can log miles with out worrying how briskly they’re going,” she says. “Mentally, that helps a ton.”

Because the season will get into full swing, Harrison often prescribes extra exercises based mostly on distance. “That’s once we begin specializing in run specificity and getting athletes on the monitor to do intervals with time targets which might be particular to their upcoming race,” she says. Whereas time-based runs are simply as useful, a exercise based mostly on distance may give essential suggestions concerning an athlete’s health stage and projected race instances. There’s a time and a spot for every and the proper mixture may elicit higher aggressive outcomes.


Restoration run: Flip off the info and simply benefit from the run. These runs are about letting your physique bounce again from a earlier exercise.

Fartlek: By their nature, fartleks are simpler to base on time and assist with inside pacing.

Tempo: A lot of these exercises are key to serving to an athlete study pacing based mostly on really feel.


Intervals: Intervals on the monitor or highway offer you a few of the greatest info on how an upcoming race will go and what you should work on.

Non-Exercise Common Runs: This may provide help to gauge progress and the way a lot distance you may comfortably cowl in a particular period of time.

Time or Distance

Lengthy Run: Within the low season or while you’re recovering from an damage, base the long term on time. For those who’re mid-season, go together with distance to make sure you get within the miles obligatory for the gap you’ll race.

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