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Monday, March 14, 2011

Why do Some Canadian Runners log their Runs in Miles?

This is something I'm noticing more and more lately, and not just online, but with my own running friends: Why do so many Canadians choose to tally up their weekly running totals in miles instead of kilometers?

I just don't get it. Ever since the day I started running I've always logged my runs in kilometers, and frankly, it's confusing to even think about using miles. Everything that surrounds us is in kilometers in Canada. Why would I log my running in miles if no other aspect of my life is in that same unit?

I've got a few theories myself as to why runners choose one route over the other, but I thought it would be more fun if I asked around and I managed to get a few responses from other well versed runners, most of which with blogs of their own!

Steve Weiler (Blog: Having Fun, Running Fast)

I find it rather amusing watching a video of an american race, say 5,000m or 10,000m, in which they don't mention the 1,000m or 2,000m splits, but for some reason they mention the 1,600m split and then refer to it as the mile split. It's like a forced indulgence to continue using this antiquated unit of measurement while training for metric distances.

I track in Killage, though I just mark 'k'.

Killage eh? I like the sound of that and I bet more people would convert to the metric measure if this fad caught on.

Leslie Sexton (Blog: Overtrained And Under-Tapered)

I guess I log in miles because there is something I like about it and it is a bit more familiar to me. When I started logging my training, I was in my first year of university. My coach had us enter our runs on an online log, which was an American site. We could enter our runs in kilometers, but it converted everything into miles for our weekly totals. Over four years I got used to using miles and thinking in miles in terms of distance and pacing. All of my teammates used it too.

Miles have simply become intuitive for me. Yes, kilometers probably make way more sense as a measurement system. But I personally like the simplicity of a ten miler rather than a sixteen (point zero nine) km, or a hundred mile week as opposed to a hundred and sixty-one kilometer week.

Brandon Laan (Blog:

A tad of it has to do with running in the U.S. for the past 4 years but most of it stems from my obsessive compulsive nature. I love change in my life, but with regards to running, I like to keep it simple and relatively static. 
I also like to think I am somewhat old-school in my approach. I am a tech free, barefoot (flats), barebones kinda runner. 
The idea of running upwards of 42K (32 in the morning, 10 in the evening) on a Sunday just sounds awful. HOWEVER, I love running 20 in the morning and 6 at night. LOL. The idiosyncrasies do not make a ton of sense but it's what gets me out the door. 

So there you have it, straight from the mouths of some of London's finest long distance athletes/coaches.  Overall, it seems to be a habit that has formed over time, with no real drive to do one or the other.  Old habits die hard and Leslie and Brandon speak to that quite well. We are after all a product of our environment and experiences...

Brandon also touches on an interesting point. He mentions he has spent years running in the US and that has shaped his willingness to adopt the imperial system when logging his miles, and I think that rings true for many of us up North as we often find ourselves sucked into the American running culture more than we might in Canada. I know personally that the American running scene is much more interesting to watch and follow, this must certainly play a role.

In the end, I think it's just so darn easy to say mileage where as you simply can't say kilometerage. However, I like Steve's approach in calling it killage, it rolls off the tongue just as easily as mileage and sounds deadly to boot!

1 comment:

  1. I track in miles because that's what we did in high school. The coaches were from a generation where things were tracked in miles. Distance running is tradition-laden, and I think it's inaccurate of Steve to call it antiquated. And the indulgence is certainly not forced!

    That said, the term "killage" is pretty cool and I can see why it would catch on. 20 in the morning and 6 in the evening sounds easier, but 32 kills in the morning and 10 in the evening sounds pretty badass. I guess the only thing is that it might give the impression that you are doing more than you are. 100 kills is not the same as 100 miles, even if it's a nice round number. The debate will rage, I'm sure!


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