Sunday, February 19, 2012

Training tips: distance versus time

Bootsandsaddles4mel Blog - Full Article


During conditioning rides, do you ride for time or distance?

When I was training for marathons (before I got smart and realized I could do this from the back of a horse....) I followed a program that believed that time spent hitting the road mattered more than the actual distance that you did. Galloway said that the mileage of 26.2 miles isn't hard - it's the 4 hours or so you spend on your feet moving. To condition for this, he suggested spending more effort getting the time in instead of focusing on the miles.

This worked well for me for several reasons. I was running without a GPS or mapped/measured course, and which wasn't a huge set back - I did enough miles on the track that I got a good sense of my pacing (even if I was run/walking). However, planning for time rather than distance was an advantage mentally. I planned my long runs for the time it should take to complete them - for example, 11 min/mile pace wasn't unreasonable for a 10-15 mile run. If I needed a 10 mile run, I would plan a 2 hour run - if I needed 15 miles, I knew I would be out there for 3 hours. In most cases, it didn't matter whether I was running for time or distance - both got accomplished. However, if something went terribly wrong I didn't worry that I was going too slow to get in the miles - I just knew I had to suck it up for "x" number of minutes. And somehow, it's easier to say "I can walk for another hour and be done", then to say "I have 5 more miles to go - and so that's 1-6 hours depending on whether I run it or crawl it...". It gave me the freedom to not push past that margin of safety that kept me from getting hurt, because I was running for time, not distance and could go as slow as I needed to get that time in without the pressure of getting the miles in.

Usually every 3rd long run or so, I would completely hit the wall and do significantly less miles than planned, but still got the time in. It never hurt me and my next long run always went well - but more importantly, my motivation remained high and I didn't get mentally burnt out.

The other training philosophy I followed once I had a few completions and I was interested in going faster, was: you train for speed, and you train for distance - but you don't combine the two until race day...

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