Question for the runners, distance or time?

I’m (still) trying to lose weight and have found that running is the least objectionable form of exercise to me and since I believe that the best kind of exercise is the kind you actually do i’m going to stick with it. I want to get the most out of the time I spend doing it as well though, ideally I would like to improve my stamina so I can burn more calories per session in the hope that it will have an accumulative effect. In other words over time I will be able to run further which will cause me to lose more weight which will allow me to run further and so on.

What I am wondering at the moment is whether I am better off having a set distance or a set time in mind for my runs. So which of these two scenarios would give me the best results:

  1. Running a fixed distance each day, for example 5k, then when my times come down enough increasing it to 6k and so on.

  2. Running for a fixed time each day, for example 30 minutes, then when my distance covered within that time improves increasing it to 35 minutes and so on.

I find my runs are better when I have a fixed goal, running ‘until i’ve had enough’ usually causes me to stop a long way short of what I am capable of so I definitely need to have a fixed goal for each day to keep me honest. Of course there may be a third option i’m not thinking of so I would be open to any other suggestions.

For what it’s worth I have started tracking my runs on Runkeeper, my two runs so far have been:

  1. 5km in 25:59
  2. 6km in 32:47

You can see by the amount I slow down in the last kilometre that this is pretty much my limit for now but I would really like to be able to get up to 10k, the question is how to go about it.

Run by time and increase the time as you go.

This will eliminate the temptation to “race” the distance and help prevent injuries/burnout.

I find it’s easier to schedule a timed run. Run for 40 minutes, turn around, run back.

It’s easier to keep track of progress if you run by distance, however.

Steady on there cowboy i’m not Superman!! :wink:

Any advice on how quickly I should be aiming to increase the time? Bear in mind that the 5k and 6k I did were not running 100%, I ran to about 3.5/4km then ‘ran a bit walked a bit’ for the remainder.

I have only relatively recently started running from a completely sedentary lifestyle so I don’t want to overdo it. Say I started at 30 minutes per run how long should I do that for before increasing it to 35? Or is it a matter of playing it by ear and seeing when I think i’m ready?

I’m not too concerned about that because Runkeeper allows you to view charted and graphed metrics about all aspects of your run, so I can easily view my distance progress.

10% increase per week for3-4 weeks than drop back to 2/3 for a week and continue from your longest previous week.

Once you have increased to appx. 50% more, stay at that level for a month before increasing again.

Run with a heart rate monitor. It makes it easier to control the effort until you get your sensors calibrated.

Yeah. I was using my typical run as an example. Should have stated that…

I’m not sure I follow you, is it a 10% increase on the previous week or a 10% increase from the initial time? If it is from the initial time is this what you what mean:

Week 1: 30 min
Week 2: 33 min
Week 3: 36 min
Week 4: 39 min
Week 5: 26 min (two-thirds of the previous week?)
Week 6: 39 min
Week 7: 42 min
Week 8: 45 min
then continue at 45 min for a month

Is that what you mean?

Also, I used Runkeeper before I got my Garmin and found Runkeeper to be wildly inaccurate, so it’s not the best tool for tracking distance.

Have you seen DailyMile? It’s like facebook for fitness and you can find local running routes with the search function or use their mapping to plot your own runs so you can see what distances you’re doing. I like its interface for keeping track of weekly miles/activities and keeping up with other runner friends.

I generally run a distance and I have a specific goal for that run, so both I guess. So, for example, on Sundays I run long, and generally try to keep it under 10-minute miles, closer to 9 minutes depending upon the distance (long can be anywhere from 10 miles to 22 miles, depending upon what I’m training for). Midweek I might run intervals, with specific split targets (say half miles, running at a 7:45-minute mile pace) with 200 meter slow-jog recovery between splits. If I can only get in 20 minutes, I’ll try to run 8-minute miles maybe. If I’m doing hills, it depends–if it’s a tough route, maybe just keep it under 10-minute miles. It depends on how good of “running shape” I’m in. But the point being, I try to make sure I have a specific goal / reason for every run, even if it’s a simple one.

I find for me that having a distance and time goal keeps me honest. If the goal is simply “run for an hour” then the results can vary too greatly if I don’t have a distance in mind, and there’s a tendency (for me) to run too lazily–after all, as long as I hit an hour, I met my “goal.” That said, I’m a pretty medium-slow runner to begin with, and I don’t beat myself up if on a given day I’m not up to my goal.

You’re running at a very respectable clip. I would target a race (maybe a 5K to start?) and look up a training regime that maximizes your training. Gives you a goal and makes it fun.

And the 10% rule, as I have always understood it, is to never increase your time or distance more than 10% from week to week, for both your total time / distance and your longest run. It’s a rule of thumb, and you needn’t use mathematical precision (at least I never did–going one week from an 8-mile run to a 9-mile run was close enough for me, for example). But it’s a great reminder. Over-training injuries suck.

Yes, it’s 10% over the previous week.

So it would look like this.

20 (rest week)
Hold at this point for four weeks