Just a Thought…Running for Time Only


In track training, most of our workouts are centered around distances. Run 6 x 200m, 8 x 150m, etc. This makes good sense and is easy to standardize, make comparisons, and track the progress of training. The problem though is that success in track is judged by time not distance. So I was thinking…what if you made all (or some) of your workouts time based rather than distance based. While I already frequently use this for my extensive tempo and in rare cases continuous tempo runs, I rarely use it for harder runs. There’s a lot of ways you could play around with this but it could be used in a similar fashion to how distance-based workouts are currently employed. If you want to do speed work you run for a shorter time, if you want to do ‘race development’ work you run to your goal time, and if you want to develop specific endurance you run a little longer than your goal time. Why mess with a good thing you ask? Why switch from the tried and true use of distance? Here’s a couple quick reasons to at least give it some consideration:

  • It allows for a little more self-regulation of total volume dependent on the athlete’s readiness.
  • Because at higher intensities, energy system demand of a given rep is largely dependent on the duration (in time) of the rep, you could theoretically more precisely pinpoint energy system stimulus of a workout.
  • Keeps the goal in mind all the time. For example, if you want your athlete to be able to run 47 seconds for the 400m then instead of slogging through 400m repeats at 54 seconds in the fall when the athlete isn’t in shape, you run 47 second repeats (probably covering around 320m) and progress outwards the more fit the athlete gets.
  • I’d imagine the above point would also yield a significant psychological advantage because an athlete can’t SEE seconds they’re dropping when they run that 400m but they can SEE that they are running further in a given time.
  • This point would also likely help race distribution because an athlete would be much more familiar with how to run a rep / race within the desired time constraints.

There are some cons too (mostly logistical in my opinion) but it seems this would a great way to handle training for long sprinters and middle distance runners.
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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


📈Owner @AthleticLab 🏆Perf Dir @theNCCourage ⚽️Fit Coach @NorthCarolinaFC ➡️Proformance 📚Keynote Speaker & Author 📊Sport Science & Research🏃🏾‍♂️T&F 💪🏼S&C 🏋🏽‍♂️WL
A passionate rationalist https://t.co/l523yH5JBv - 6 hours ago
Mike Young
Mike Young