time v distance, stop watch aversion

how many runners time their runs instead of counting the miles?

and is there anyone else like me who doesn't really bother with a stop watch at all? i just go on how I feel, though I roughly know how long each route will take according to my effort. but even when i go to the track i don't time the reps, even when i do loads. i could ask a family member to help time me, but i dont know if this is necessary, maybe i'll try once or twice just to ensure i keep an even pace.

has anyone achieved success this way or do i need to be more methodical? i've found i'm improving by just stepping up my training, but soon i realise i might have to start calculating things...


  • Depends. I sometimes time the run and sometimes count the miles. Usually the latter, but sometimes (eg "20 minute tempo run") the former.

    It's definitely worth timing your intervals.
  • I have started running by time only on my long runs.I have been trying to ignore the distance and just keep going at a slow-steady pace.

    I find that it helps me to keep my pace down. I have a tendancy to try and beat my previous time if I know the distance I am running.

    I do however run to set distances on tempo and speed sessions.
  • I never time steady runs because they should be ran how you are feeling at the time - I don't think you can gain much benefit from knowing these times.

    I try to always time intervals, more to ensure even pace running than anything else. The nature of some runs, tempo/out and back etc, mean they have to be timed.

    Even on the runs I do time I try not to get too hung up on the result - there are so many factors that can influence your training times, tiredness, time of day, weather etc etc etc

    I would suggest you do what suits you - running is a very individual thing.
  • I don't understand 'intervals' and 'reps'. Please explain!
  • The good thing about using a watch (and a HRM come to that) is that sometimes its like running with a partner inasmuch that you tend to kick on occasionally. It's also important to guage development and at what pace to run a race. Finally if you following a varied schedule (tempo, recovery, etc) its important to know your optimum times. You've mentioned a couple of times that you tend to run alone so I'd certainly recommend buying a watch, preferably one that shows splits. I got an excellent Timex 30 lap Ironman for £24 from Argos. Still nice occasionally to leave it at home and go off-road but if you have a watch, its your choice.
  • thanks for the advice everyone, i'm going to start timing the track intervals i do, since i'm serious about improving my race performance, and i sometimes feel like i don't even know my own potential at the current time.

    i'm going to try running for time this afternoon for my speed endurance session, do 1, 2, 3, 4 min fast/slow then back down, like a pyramid session i'd do on the track, so i'll see how that goes!
  • Good luck!..a change is often as good as a rest as they say
  • Sassie, intervals are a type of speedwork you'll often see on schedules, usually marked confusingly as "Intervals: 8x800m" or something similar.

    We can take 8x800m as an example. What that means is that the runner runs 800 metres fast followed by a slower recovery run - that fast-slow pair counting as one "rep" or repetition - then repeats that process seven more times. Therefore, "eight times 800m".

    Of course, the unwritten catch is that "8x800m" doesn't mean "800m times eight" - it means "800m fast, times eight". So, if your recoveries were the same distance (a fairly common convention) you'd actually run 1600m times eight, in total.

    For example, last Tuesday I ran an 8x400m session. I ran slowly to my local park (to warm up) and ran to a section which I knew was the appropriate length. Then, I ran the 400m to the other end fast, and jogged back to the start; ran to the other end fast, jogged back to the start... etc. After eight times of doing that I was more than a little knackered - intervals are nothing if not tiring!

    Intervals are most often done in areas where you know what distance you're covering, which will mean either a track or a section of land that you know well.

    Hope that helped :)
  • Thank you. I got it now!
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