Jo Pavey on minutes v miles and when to hit the gym
For most runners, a combination of the two is likely to be best. Measuring miles on some runs during a race buildup is useful to get a feel for the race distance. This is particularly helpful if you’re running a half marathon or a marathon. It’s also good to time a set number of miles on some of your quicker runs, and to set distances during interval sessions. This allows you to monitor your progress and to gauge a realistic race-day pace.
Running for a set amount of minutes also has advantages. It allows you to listen to your body and not get caught up on pace. The purpose of a run can vary greatly – a tempo run, a steady or easy recovery run – and running by minutes without measuring the miles allows you to run according to how your body feels, which is a useful skill. Your routes may vary in terrain too, making it less relevant to compare miles/pace. Some runners may also fall into the trap of becoming obsessed with achieving their planned weekly mileage, which could easily lead to injury or fatigue.
Experience is also an important factor: If you’re an experienced runner, you’re more likely to have a better in-built sense of pace. This makes it easier to approximate how far you’re running in a certain amount of minutes. Novice runners may feel more in control with the knowledge of the miles they have run.
THE BALANCE Some sessions are better judged by miles, others by time on the road. Feel free to mix it up.