Knowledge Base

Should you run in miles or kilometers

Which is better?

Since I came back from my heart attack I decided to try running in kilometres rather then miles. My reason behind it at the time was I didn’t want to know what pace I was running and to be honest, I didn’t speak kilometres. However as the months past and I started to re-introduce speed work, I became more aware of the different paces and started to be come just as fluent in speaking kilometres as I did miles.

Most UK runners first language when it comes with measuring distances/speed extra is the classic imperial measurement of a mile, in the UK road signs have mile distances on and everything is done in the imperial measurement. Yet you go over to Europe and the US of A then it becomes more metric especially when it comes to running. For UK runners present day we have a mix of 5K, 10K, HM (13.1 miles) and marathon (26.2 miles) yet else where it’s 5K, 10K, 21K, 42K. Plus recently the distance of 26K has also become a popular race distance and I even have a 30K PB. Old school runners will remember road races where 5 miles, 6 miles, 10 miles then longer HM and marathon. However there is not many 6 mile races left with most becoming 10K races. There is still a few regular 5 mile races on the calendar and the 10 mile distance has become popular recently as people step up the distances.

With that being said most runners would say their first language when it comes to understanding running is miles and most are very weak in their second language, with some not even knowing how to covert their splits from one to another.  Over time especially at 5K I’ve learnt to know what I need in terms of mile pace and kilometre splits, especially when it comes to lap races. Having the ability to know your KM split and to be able to respond to knowing if your on target etc. is important to achieve your goals for example. When I began my comeback my target was to get my kilometre reps under 3:30 per kilometre, that is 17:30 5K pace and 5:38/mi pace for those wanting to know.

I developed as a runner with a sense of pace and what various distances meant (in terms of daily runs and weekly mileage) over the past 9 years through my running clubs. While there, 99% all spoke the same language: Miles. We talked about pace in minutes-per-mile and we tallied up our daily and weekly mileage in miles. Over those  years and beyond, I only ever thought in those terms and understood inherently what each number represented. I liken it to understanding temperature in Celsius as opposed to Fahrenheit. If you tell me it’s 14C out and I need to run 8 miles at 7:30/mile pace, I get it.  Back in November if you tell me it’s 57F and I need to run 12 km at 4:39/K I have to enter all the calculations online and do the conversions (which I just did) in order to understand.

Normally I don’t have a problem with not being bilingual in my running. I’ve become fairly good at doing conversions in my head so that I can understand people who are speaking in kilometres. However, recently I miscalculated. You see my coach provides my training schedule in kilometres (at my request after my heart attack). This past week I read what I’m supposed to do in kilometres, I go out and run it in miles, and then I report back in kilometres. You’d think I’d have adapted by now, and so would I, but no I saw I had a progression run (5K plus warm up, cool down). I set off with watch now switched back to miles and sill me ended up doing a 5 mile progression run! Now was good to get some decent pace but was a shock to system doing an extra 3K of pace! (I actually have no idea how I came up with a 5 mile progression run when it should have been 5K – it was Tuesday morning – and had spent past few days under weather and also converting my cellar to a gym!)

On top of my miscalculation, I had also gone out hard from first mile and was ramping up pace by 30s a mile and with increase in pace it also meant I had to work harder on the 2nd and 3rd miles as they had hills in them, which meant when I hit the turn around part I was having to work even harder on the last 2 miles of the session. Still Got it done and also a few miles under belt.

So to end my rambling’s, They say the best time to learn a new language is when you’re young, which unfortunately I am no longer. I may covert and stay in kilometres one day, but for now I think I’m much happier running in miles. What is good is I easily know my KM splits for my 5K target!

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