Time vs. Distance

As a life-long distance runner, I have been asked countless times: “How far did you run today?”  The questioner is usually perplexed when I respond: “I run for time, not for distance.”  How can I, as a runner, not know how far I ran?  Isn’t that the point of distance running: to run a long distance?

For me, running is freeing.  It is about doing something for myself that requires very little planning or equipment.  I just walk out of my front door and run wherever I want.  Some days I wear a watch, other days I just run until I feel like I’m finished.  Simple as that.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple, but it is on most days.  For any runs of one hour or more, I like to wear my watch so that I can time my walk breaks.  I have used the walk-run method of training since I was in high school, well before it was publicized and further marketed by Jeff Galloway.  I find it a fantastic training method, and I like that I can convince myself to run for 9 minutes at a time far easier than if I told myself I was going out for a X-mile run.

When I was out for my X-mile run today, I found myself running a route that I had never run before.  I began wondering how much distance I was covering.  Not that it mattered, as I had my trusty watch and would run until the watch said 60:00, but my curiosity was growing. 

When I got home and cooled down, I grabbed my laptop and looked up Google maps.  Google maps allows users to enter a start and end point, and then drag the highlight to trace the exact route they’ve covered.  I admit it: what a cool application of technology for my decidedly un-technical sport.  What I learned today using this application is that X=6.8.

I don’t think I’m being converted to a distance-minded runner, as I only had my distance information after the run.  But I do think it will push me to run hard– even on easy run days like today–because I know I’ll be able to go back and determine distance and pace.

Now there’s some motivation.

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