Yesterday my alarm went off and when I remembered that I was still injured and not getting up for a run I let myself drift back to sleep for a few minutes. When I looked back up at the clock 16 minutes had passed but that was not how my crazy brain read it. Instead I thought, “Crap I just laid here for 2 miles.” I had to stop myself and laugh because even I recognize that is pretty weird.
My brain works in miles. I think in miles, I run in miles, and I plan my day around miles. It is both funny and slightly insane.
When I run, and especially when I do long runs, I pretend that each mile is 10 minutes. I don’t typically run 10 minute miles but I think it is a nice way to look at it and anything under that is considered icing on the cake. It makes it easy for me to say, “I have six miles to go. Only an hour left.” It is a nice round number that makes things easier to figure out. If I usually run 8:00min/miles it takes the pressure off of a Type A like myself trying to worry about what my pacing is.
It is a strange thing when your mind starts to work in miles. A few years ago my husband and I got a summer house in Northern Michigan. It is in a small town and the roads are not well marked. To make it even more difficult, every GPS we have ever used gives you wrong directions. So when a friend came out to visit I sent her the following directions: Take a left at the road and drive 1.8 miles until you get to the green sign on the right (approximately .3 miles after the large “S” curve). Follow the dirt road for .1 miles down a small hill on the dirt road. At this point the GPS will tell you to turn right. Give her the finger, then ignore and take a left and drive for .15 miles until you reach our house at the end of the road.
My friend replied and said something to the extent of, “I thought you said the GPS was off, those are rather exact details.” This is where I had to laugh like the nerdy runner I am and explain that I know the markers from my running route each morning. Yep, my life is even measured to the tenth of many miles.
Last week I got the chance to run with a few awesome kids during a half marathon. As we got near the end, one of the runners was struggling and I saw on my Garmin that we only had a half of a mile left. As he was a newer runner, I knew that meant very little to a 13 year old boy. So I told him he had 5 minutes of running left. I urged him to think of something super easy that he could do in 5 minutes. “It’s a piece of cake,” I said. And then I laughed and said I could probably down two pieces of cake in those 5 minutes. We both laughed about that fact.
Sometimes it is helpful as a runner to look at your life in miles. And sometimes it is easier to look at it in minutes. Another young runner asked what he should do this summer to stay in shape if he wanted to do a distance race in the fall. At first I thought of telling him to keep doing a few 3 mile runs each week but then figured it might be easier for him to just go and do 30 minutes of running on those days instead.
At times we get hung up on the miles and it isn’t always about the mileage. If racking up the miles or trying to keep track of it has you overwhelmed, plan your running week out in minutes. Whether you are a 10 minute miler or not I think that figuring your running out with that average is a great way to look at it. Thirty minutes is an excellent minimum for getting your heart rate up, adequately working your muscles, and mentally feeling like you have given a decent workout.
If you want to take the time based approach to training for awhile keep in mind the following: Short runs are considered approximately 30-45 minutes. A medium run would be anything between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Any run over an hour and a half would be considered a long distance run. Using a time based plan might help to take the pressure off of worrying about your mileage but you will still get a great workout in.
As I get closer to getting back to running I am going to be using this plan myself to keep my focus on healthy amounts of time on my feet vs. getting in “X” amount of miles in each day. Try it out for a few runs and you might find a nice mental change of pace.