Distance vs Time???


Training for my first half marathon in May and wondering if anyone could give me some advice re: my training plan - is it better to train by distance or by time?

As it's my first 1/2 I'm not bothered about an outstanding time (I'll worry about that the next time!), I just want to get round the course in on piece.

Varying advice from training plans as some have you concentrating on increasing mileage and some have you increasing time but give no indication of distance you should be covering...

 Any help or advice would be much appriciated? 



PS: Currently running a 10k in approx 56mins


  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭
    There isn't a definitive answer as the best approach depends on the individual. However based on what you've said you may be better off looking at it from a time perspective.

    Based on your 10k time, you'll be looking at roughly two hours to complete the half marathon. Therefore you want to get your body used to being on your feet for that length of time. If you do a training run of two hours at an easy pace, you may only cover ten miles but this doesn't matter - the important thing is your body has experienced two continuous hours of high activity and will adapt to cope with it.

  • For my first half I had a similar 10k time and my 1st half I did it in a massive 2hrs 45mins!! This was a complete shock as I'd expected about 2:15.

    In my training I hadn't done much running over 1:45mins and deteriorated quite badly from this in the run, oh and going off too quickly. My advice is run up to and beyond your target distance at least twice. FWIW my PB for halfs is 2:12 and for 10K is 52mins, just can't seem to improve them image
  • For my first half I'd gone no further than 10 miles in training and the last 2 really really hurt. Since then I've run overdistance at least once in the month/6 weeks before, and I think it's helped no end.

    As to if you train based on time or distance, I would say that has to boil down to what suits you. I find it easier to plot a route and run a distance than I do to have enough flexibility to run to a time. Running with a deadline always leaves me feeling under pressure - and then I tend to go faster than might be comfortable. But it might suit you.

    Whichever you choose, I would make sure that you're gone close to, if not over the distance or have a run of longer time you expect the half to take, then you're prepared.

  • Personally I find it mentally easier to run to distance rather than time, I've just always done it that way. There seem to be mixed reports as to which is better, but personally I think in terms of distance so would probably push to get to the distance I wanted antway if I tried to do to time. 

  • If you're new, or fairly new to running, then I'd also say concentrate on time on feet.  If you're following a plan, your runs should be of increasing lengths of time but if you're not following a plan, then ensure you increase gradually and every 4 weeks, have a cut back to allow yourself to recover, then pick up again for the next four weeks. 

  • My best ever season I did the first half of the season of distance - all the base work, and then the season's training to time, sessions included as I didn't have a track or any way of measuring distance. I'm a big believer that should do some work, including quality work, off time as well as distance - if you always run a set distance, you work of preconceived ideas about pacing and timing. If you just run until the watch bleeps you may well find when you go back to the distance you have been running it quicker.
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