Running Minutes vs. Miles - Part 1


May was a new experiment for my running regime. And being the true running partner, Marci decided to participate for two weeks. Our new plan: To run based on minutes, not miles. I've been running based on miles since I started running, and so has Marci. I thought about this idea as I was struggling to make my weekly miles. I was feeling tired and stressed about the distance and needed to take a new approach with my runs. I had heard about people training based on time instead of miles and started to look into it.  I also started thinking about the triathlon in September and knew we'd end with a six mile run, but also knew we'd be swimming and biking for at least an hour and a half before that last run, so I'd need to be able to be active for at least 2.5-3 hours.  So, how to get there? Marci and I had completely different experiences running by minutes, and now we have two separate opinions you can read about and decide if its right for you.

Breaking The Cycle

Starting to run by minutes was like learning how to drive a manual transmission car on the opposite side of the road or learning a completely new language. Seriously. Everything about it seemed wrong. (Note: we both use the Nike+ Running App referenced here as 'The App'.)

Marci's Run 1


A Confusing Start - I set my app this morning to run for 45 minutes and it told me it would be 5 miles. I run the same path almost every morning so I roughly know where all the mile markers are. Probably not a good path to take when I am testing out running for time because I know where I am. 

First panic attack - The app looked different shortly into the run and thinking I had run 8 miles, I had only run 8 minutes (ah, the runner’s brain) AND the place where my pace usually is was gone so I had no idea how fast or slow I was going. Luckily, I was able to stop thinking about pace and once I did I felt free and great! 

Feeling Free... Until The Last 1/2 Mile - This was the first time I had ever run and not thought to myself or noticed how fast or slow I was going. Normally I am conscious about my pace and either feel slow or fast and look at my app to confirm. Today I didn’t even notice! My run was going great, or so I thought. Knowing my route I knew when I only had 1/2 a mile to go.  

I checked my app at a red light and it said ’36:00’, and then I thought, “There’s no way I can get home in 9 minutes!” Looking back, I know I run faster than an 18 minute mile! So of course I was going to finish the last half mile in under 9 minutes, but at that moment, my runner’s brain kicked in and I tried to pick up the pace to make sure I’d finish in the time I set for myself. Of course I made it in time and my average overall pace was faster than I had been running all week, which made me feel great! But what a mind mess this run was!

Amy's Run 1


Unlike Marci, I'm slower and have been feeling like I've hit the wall or plateaued in my training. I can't seem to push past the five mile mark, which drives me crazy because I've trained and run half marathons and have passed five miles many, many times. I KNOW I can do it. And, unlike Marci, I've switched from solely using my app to also using my Garmin 310XT Watch. I like the watch because its also a heart rate monitor and it feels less-intrusive, meaning, I'm not conscious of it when I'm wearing it (like the app) and while it records my time and pace, I don't check it while I run, unlike the app. I still use the app for sharing my runs with Marci, and I like the feedback when I'm halfway through a run, but other than that, I keep all its voice notifications off.

Freedom From Miles - I started my run planning to go 35 minutes. I got out there, I ran, and I felt great the entire time because I wasn't focus on how far I was going. No matter how slow or fast, I was going to run 35 minutes, period. If I ran fast I'd run more miles, if not, well, I'd still be running 35 minutes. Having that freedom from miles felt amazing and I didn't think about how far I was going to go, I just thought about running. Period. 

My pace wasn't amazing or anything out of the ordinary - it was on track with what I had been running, and of course, I didn't break my five mile barrier this time, but I was happy that I got out there.

Marci's Run 2

A Rough Start - Day 2 was a bad run overall. I was really excited to get out of bed this morning and get ready for my run, but the moment I left the front door I felt slow, sluggish, and heavy. I was planning on running for 65 minutes, but there were so many minutes on that run that I just wanted to give up and go home. I was bored with the podcast I was listening to, so I had to stop halfway through and switch to music to get me through it. 

Other Factors - The good news - I didn't give up and I finished the run. The bad news - my pace was slow and I didn't feel good. A lot of factors could have come into play as to why my run was so sluggish - I donated blood two days earlier, and I ate an egg and cheese sandwich the night before (I'm not 100% plant based like Amy). Its only been two days since running by minutes and not miles and I'm trying to give this a chance, but I'm the type of person that really likes the goal of miles and I'm starting to think running for time is just not for me. But time will tell! (Literally...)

Amy's Run 2


Five More Minutes - Day 2 was going to be a little longer than Day 1. Five more minutes seemed doable. It seemed more doable than adding an extra half mile. And it was! Five more minutes, and an increased pace of 8 less seconds a mile. Not a huge change, but a change nonetheless. 

So far, to me, running based on time is allowing me to let go of a distance that I'm not necessarily ready for. I know running x amount of time will get me x amount of miles - so if I just run that time, I'll get to those miles. Maybe because I haven't run based on time before that now I feel like time is on my side, unlike miles that just stare down at me and slowly, very slowly increase, while time has been flying by. I feel less pressure now to make my miles, and I'm enjoying running more than ever before. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 as our journey of Running Miles vs. Minutes continues!