This training cycle all of my runs are scheduled by time rather than by distance. In the past I have always made my plans around how many miles I want to run but after a few weeks basing my runs off of time I'm pretty sure I will never go back to my old ways. There have been many times during the past weeks where I have thought about how much better it is to be running by time. Example:
Two (?) weeks ago I had a 75 minute long run scheduled that was supposed to be run at faster than a 9:00 min/mileage pace. When I woke up that morning the streets were covered with snow and the last thing I wanted to do on my last day of break was run inside on a treadmill. My dad and I drove down to the trail to get the run done anyway. He biked alongside me in case I had any trouble with the snow (he really is the best long run buddy. And dad). The trail was not only snowy but also slippery. I was running significantly slower than planned but felt like I was working a lot harder. By the end of the run I felt like I had run 10-12 miles not 7.5. On my way home I realized that had I planned on doing 8.5 miles I would have suffered out on that trail for another 10 minutes taking more out of me than necessary.
Sometimes things go wrong. Every day is different and should be treated as such. Some days I feel tired and sluggish while other days I feel like I could run forever. By focusing on how long I'm running rather than how far I'm running I can adapt my runs each week to how I'm feeling to avoid burnout and recover properly from each run.
The only thing that has been a bit challenging has been the mental part. For such a long time I ran about 10 minute miles so a 40 minute run would equal 4 miles. Since starting training I have gotten a bit faster and now a 40 minute run means about 4.4 miles. This shouldn't sound like a big deal but it really makes a difference with long runs, which I already struggle with mentally. I am trying to make some changes to help get my head in a better place this training cycle but that is for another post.
Moral of the post: running for time instead of miles is the way to go. At least try it before you bash it. Then report back with how much better you like it. And for any of you that worry about following a training plan that is based off time and thinking that faster or slower runners are doing more/less and therefore this only works for other runners, let me just stop you there. I am not following a generic training plan. I am being coached and so my runs are catered towards my needs. Even if you don't have a coach though you should still try running for time. If you write your own plan just figure out how long it takes you to do a run, say 6 miles, and instead write in that time.