Open Source Athlete - January Edition

Tuesday, 3rd January 2012

Distance vs Time.

This past week I have had the pleasure of spending time in the World Heritage Drakensberg region of Kwa-Zulu Natal, in South Africa.

We have stayed at two different locations – Thendele in the Royal Natal National Park, and at Injisuthi in the Central Berg region. Both locations are situated in the foothills at around 1700/1800m elevation above sea level.

I have been dreaming about this week since we booked earlier this year. I consider this to be South Africa's version of Boulder, Colorado. So it has been a refreshing treat to be spoilt with running mountain trails for a full 8 days. Including the fact that everything has been at altitude.

I suppose though, what has been the most refreshing about it all, is that I have not been able to record any mileage. The trail network is extensive, however the documentation of any specific mileage is non-existent, which means that my entire running has been for time instead.

My new Garmin 910XT had not arrived before I left Australia, so I had already resigned myself to the "running for time" concept. It takes a few runs to become used to the concept of not knowing how far you have run. However, once you break the shackles and release yourself from the hard data, it actually becomes one less thing you have to worry about and one more step towards minimalism. Who cares how far you have run when your run has included 30 minutes of vertical climbing from one contour to the next, working your way upwards of 2500m in altitude.

I think that for trail running in particular it is not as important to concentrate on the miles covered, more so on the time spent on your feet. The reality is that over this past week I have probably run two thirds of the distance of my desired weekly mileage, but have more than made up for it in vertical elevation gain, altitude, technical trail work, and extra time spent in being doubled over whilst power hiking some of the gnarliest terrain around.

There is a place for both distance training and time training. I think that to maintain a fresh training approach it is important to mix it up, and not get too fixated on any one particular regime.

The bottom line is that either way, you are out there anyway.

 

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