Long Run Tip – Time

Whether you are new or old to running when you get given a bit of advice you will either take it with a grain of salt, or it will stick with you.
When a bit of advice sticks with you you may try it out straight away or you work your way up to it. It’s up to you what you want to do with that advice.

Back in October 2011, I had this crazy idea of wanting to run.  That’s when I started my fitness journey, and to me ‘running’ was the epitome of being fit.  Little did I know how running would change me.

At the time I wasn’t following any plan.  I didn’t even know running plans existed.  I just went out and would run as far as I could, then would walk, and then run a bit more.  I didn’t know that was ‘interval’ training.  To me, it was hard work.

After completing my first fun run in March 2012 I started training for a 10km, and then eventually a half marathon. By this time I had cottoned on to training plans.

Being relatively new to running I would follow the plan Runners World Smart Coach (apple only) told me to do.  The long runs would state to do XX amount of kilometers/miles.  At the time I didn’t know anything better, so that’s what I did.

Towards the end of the 2012 SAAC running season, one of the coaches (and founding members of the club) mentioned something to me.


It sounds so simple.  Run for time, not distance. At first, I wasn’t too sure how it would go, but I didn’t have anything to lose.  So I started running my long runs based on time.

It didn’t take long before I realised that I much prefer running my long runs based on time than on distance.

Every long run is going to be different.  But the purpose of the long run is to get your body running for a length of – you guessed it – time.

What runner doesn’t have a time goal?  We all have one. We all want it.

If you are a new runner, then start running your long runs based on time.  It doesn’t matter how slow you go, speed has no relevance in the long run.  One day you may find you can run 10km in an hour.  Another day you only be able to achieve 7km. It’s all about getting your body adapted to endurance.  The speed comes with time.

Do you base your long runs on time or distance? Why?
What’s your fav distance?
Any recent personal best’s/records? 

15 thoughts on “Long Run Tip – Time”

  1. Interesting. I am currently running based on distance, because I have distance goals to meet. Once I have met those, I can change my focus.

    I don’t have a favorite distance yet.

    1. When I trained for my last half, my last long run was 100mins (1h50). I ended up doing 18km | 11.25mi in the designated time. Two weeks later when I ran my half marathon. I ran it in 1h49. So running for time definitely got me to my goal.

  2. My favorite distance is around 10 miles, I still have a good pace and my body feels great. I’ve never tried to go for time over miles when it comes to my long run. I’ll have to do that, thanks for the advice.

  3. I typically run for distance and not time. But I’ve read multiple times now that your long run shouldn’t be longer than 3 hours. So I recently changed one of my 20 mile runs to a 3 hour run. It made it more fun, because I was working to see how far I could run in 3 hours. I made it to 19 miles, so it wasn’t like I cut a lot of distance off my run anyways.

  4. Very interesting! In fact, one of the things I’ve been talking to my coach about is trying to run for time instead of miles. I’m not sure how it will go or if I will like it but I want to give it a try.

  5. Great advice, and the same sage advice that one of the fellows at work has given me, and he’s done a number of ultra marathons. He says exactly the same, although he also says to throw away the gadgets, but I can’t go that far, there’s something intoxicating about hearing Runkeeper count the time and the kms down.


    1. When my (old) garmin died, I had to map with google maps, and just used my ipod (which is not accurate at all), and not worrying about pace speed etc was great, just went out and enjoyed the run. Try it at least once.

  6. Chris Mavromatis

    I think there is some value in training this way.. especially when you are having a tough run and nothing seems to be going right.
    If you were to force yourself to try and finish the miles you expected than you may encounter an issue, but if instead you just tell yourself to run until a certain amount of time has elapsed and then whatever mileage you get is great. This makes sense.
    I will say that I am a huge fan of timed races! As you know I am doing my first 24HR on December 31st and I like the idea of pacing yourself and seeing how many miles you can run in a certain amount of time. It is a relaxing way to run (until it starts to get really hard : ) ) as you are more worried about getting into the right pace and just having the miles tick off.. as opposed to just trying to get to that next mile marker quickly!
    Glad you put this out there as I think many could benefit by doing some of their runs this way!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top