When is a mile, not a mile

I was reading the RW interview with Mara Yamauchi in which she states... "The longest I've run is a hilly 23 miles so I count that as 26" 
This came across as a really odd thing to say, I thought 23 miles was 23 miles no matter where it was done, or am I mistaken. Should I starting counting 23 miles as being 20 miles on a treadmill because its easier?

You can read the interview at the following URL:

Im really curious to know what more experienced runners than myself think regarding her statement, do you change what you consider to be your distance/time based on effort, percieved effort or surface you are running on and if you do is there any calculation used for the adjustment?


  • I'm no way an experinced runner but although I 'get it' I do not agree with it. Yes running 23miles on very hilly terrain is harder than say 26miles of flat but a fact is a fact so 23miles is 23miles. Fact. I think you are lying to yourself if you start adding miles due to terrain. I sometimes run with a backpack which is harder than running without. I don't then say I ran further because of this.
  • Saying you run 23 miles but was actually 26 due to hills is not the correct way to phrase this.

    Saying you run 23 miles that felt like 26 due to the hills. This I can accept.

  • GertieGertie ✭✭✭
    23 miles is like 26 miles?   Didn't know that Cardiff had their own marathon as well as a 'half'
  • If you are raining then i totally understand it.............if you were due to run 20 miles but were on an offroad hilly terrain then I would be more than happy with 17 and it would count as my 20 miler....

    the same with racing...............if my schedule said 15 or 16 miles and i raced a half marathon that day i would be happy that the two equated...........image

  •  seren nos wrote (see)

    If you are raining then i totally understand it.............if you were due to run 20 miles but were on an offroad hilly terrain then I would be more than happy with 17 and it would count as my 20 miler....

    Is there a calculation which you are doing which make you equate the hilly 17 miler with the 20 miler?
    or is it your percieved effort.
    For example : what percentance angle would I need to run on a treadmill to equate 17 miles to 20 miles?

  • No formula.....more of  a perceived effort..............and its a personal thing..........when a 10 miler takes you 3 hours because of the terrain and elevation.then you know its worth a hell of a lot more in training terms than a flat 10 miler..........

    and as its just for your own personal training  then its up to you how you count the runimage

  • she is basically saying "i would normally do a run of race distance to prepare, but i did a hilly 23 and given that the target race is flat, i'll count that as good enough"

    i don't think she's suggesting she can distort the spacetime continuum based on whim alone.  it was just an interview about a race she's going to do!

  • When calculating distance over a hilly course, is account taken of the elevation as well as the distance covered "as the crow flies"?

    IE: A run up and down Snowdon on a flat 2 d map may cover 2 miles of distance between points, but due to the ascent and descent it may actually cover 2.5 miles of terrain... just a thought.

  • candy - How dare you use common sense!

    Mrs Yamauchi was very bloody obviously equating a hilly 23 miles with a flat 26 mile run in terms of training effect.  I bet it must've been a hilly run though!

    In theory I suppose you could use laws of mechanics to come up with some sort of formula for gradient vs pace but even for a constant incline on a treadmill it will only be an approximation, with a lot of variation according to how well an individual runs on hills.  Or maybe you could come up with an approximation for a race course / training route according to elevation vs distance but that will be even more inaccurate.  Best to go by perceived effort IMO.

    squeakz - Best idea I could come up with on the treadmill question would be to use a HR monitor and compare paces for flat vs incline for a target HR.  Find an incline that reduces your pace about 15% and 17 miles at that incline will roughly approximate effort for a flat 20.  BUT actually running 17 miles on a treadmill on a significant incline will exercise different muscles, and effectively train you to run up a hill at a constant incline, i.e. equivalent effort but not the same effect.

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