Distance vs. Time

Tuesday, 28th July 2009

For the first 5 months of this year, I channelled everything into training for the Comrades Marathon. From virtually the 1st January until race day on the 24th May, I covered approximately 3000km of running. With the exception of a few runs, they were all measured distances - in time and mileage. Training for a set distance road race is different to that when training for trail running. I believe the runs need to be quantified and measured to ensure accuracy in pacing, knowing at what point in time and distance the body begins to feel fatigued, etc.

Trail running seems to be a bit different in that although the race has an overall distance, because the terrain is so diverse and so variable within short distances, it is hard to benefit from set mileage based training. Five minute kilometers on the road is different to running a kilometer on a single track up 300m of elevation.

So given that I am running a 100 mile trail race in 7 weeks, I have begrudgingly decided to move away from mileage measured training to 'time on feet' based training. This has been a bit difficult as once you are aware of what distance you have been capable of running, you tend to want to take that with you when running in the bush. This almost never equates, leaving one feeling like the session has been compromised.

In the broader scheme of things I do realise that time on your feet is more important in this instance, and so will go with the concept for now.

This week will see the first of a series of 3 or 4 by eight hour long runs. It will be interesting to see what distance comes out of an 8hr run. I would love to hear what anyone else's preference in this subject is. Send me an email with your thoughts.

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