Time vs. Distance

Would you rather go out for a 60-minute run, or aim to run and cover 10km? This is one of the most common debates when it comes to which is better. Our take? There are pros and cons of each approach, and it would be better to balance both types of training to reap the benefits of each, based on your fitness level and the condition your body is on that day.

When we run by distance, we have a gauge of how far we have run, and how much more is there to cover. Ever wonder why we run faster when we see the finish line in sight? That is one example of a visual cue when running by distance.

In timing, however, the cues are less tangible therefore making it harder to perceive pace. You would need to keep glancing at your watch to check how long you have run – although you’re able to maintain an even split, as compared to running by distance. The study revealed that both approaches has its own function depending on the desired outcome.

Below are ways you can take advantage of both training approaches to improve your running!


  1. To hone a sense of effort

Running by time allows you to identify the pace you can sustain in prolonged periods of time, which is an important skill in racing. This makes sure that you do not go out guns blazing at the start of the race, and hit the wall early – depleting necessary energy sources. Pay attention to your breathing and how your legs feel, and adjust the pace accordingly. Occasionally, check back on your stats and once you see an improvement in distance covered, it means that your fitness has improved!

  1. When doing your recovery run

After a hard workout session or a race, you wouldn’t want to strain the body the following day by pushing it through a pace you cannot sustain, leading to overtraining as you would be running in a pre-fatigued state. Following up from the previous point, run your recovery runs per how your legs and breathing feel, as these runs serve to increase your fitness – if done right. (http://running.competitor.com/2013/10/training/whats-the-real-benefit-of-recovery-runs_130)

  1. When you want to save it for another day

Some days you just don’t feel up to it due to stress from external sources, and repeating some workouts week in and out can be mentally challenging when you are just back from a break. Hit the roads, or if possible, the trails for a fartlek run for a change to break the monotony. Don’t measure the workout, just get out there and have fun.


  1. In workout sessions/intervals

Workout sessions and distance specific intervals give you a rough gauge on how an upcoming race will go. These are good indicators on what you need to work on to hit the distance in a timing.

  1. To learn how to kick

Many of us love to unleash a finishing sprint in every track interval because it builds our ego that we have enough left in the bank to go faster. However, that traps our mind into thinking that we can only go at this pace at a set distance – until the finish line. If you feel fresh after that last rep, start at a quicker pace than usual, rather than feeling you ‘jogged’ through your intervals. Sometimes, we are only ‘40% done’ when we can launch a finishing sprint. (http://thehustle.co/40-percent-rule-navy-seal-secret-mental-toughness)

  1. To get in the distance necessary for your long run training

Training for any race is never easy, especially a half and full marathon where you must cover specific long distances in training to prepare your legs for race day. If you are mid-season in training, focus on clocking a set distance to get in the miles necessary as a confidence and fitness booster towards your race efforts.


At the end of it, every runner should know what works best for them, because what works for others might be disastrous for another. Time crunched runners would find the idea of a ’60-minute run’ enticing as they know they would be done within an hour, no matter the distance. While on the other end of the spectrum, runners would find it satisfying to know they have completed their daily 15km run, no matter the timing.

Whether running by distance or time, keep on experimenting until you have found the perfect formula – and keep at it until you have found something that works even better.


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LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

Are you an experienced runner, or just love to write on topics related to running? Contact us. We love to hear how you can contribute!

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