Time versus Distance

Earn your pomodoro (tomato)!

I started jogging / running this year, and picked up a guide on training for Triathlons on my way home from an evening run. I skipped to the section on running advice for beginners, and one tip stuck out to me.

Run by time, not by distance. It’s easier to measure how many minutes you’ve run than it is by distance. For example, run 3 minutes, then walk 1 minute. Repeat 3-5 times, then call it a day.

Some days we run better, and some days the legs are just harder to move.

By setting goals by time rather than distance, we can still guarantee we got some jogging in, rather than getting hung up that we didn’t quite run the full mile we intended.

It also happens that my secondhand, 10-year old Garmin Forerunner watch takes many minutes to boot up the distance-tracking/GPS mode. Sometimes I’m halfway through my run by the time it’s booted up! The timer option doesn’t require booting up so I sometimes just go with that. I aim to run about 1 mile each time I go out, but when I measure by time, I don’t get so hung up on whether I met that distance or not. I feel physically good after running and mentally don’t look for reasons to lament that it ‘wasn’t enough’.

I’ve been applying this lately to work, too. There’s something called the Pomodoro Technique where you work in blocks of time, then take a dedicated break (you’ve earned your tomato!), and repeat. Even if the task isn’t completed during the block of time, there was still progress made. I think it’s key to experiment and find what block length keeps you motivated.

Currently, I find 30 minutes of work, then about 10-15 min of break works well. 30 minutes is bite-sized enough that I’m willing to get started, knowing the finish line is in sight. This has helped with self-disciplining my productivity while avoiding becoming burnt out, eyeballs glazed and back aching by the end of the day.

What are ways you make your goals more bite-sized and thus attainable?


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