Distance versus time - which is best for keeping track of your training volume?

Measuring training has never been easier, but for keeping tabs on volume, is it better to add up the miles or the hours?

Male cyclist looking at the data on his cycling computer
(Image credit: Future)

Watch a well-drilled group of road cyclists pass by and they might appear to be the picture of perfect harmony, but scratch beneath the surface and there’s a big split: how those riders keep tally of their training volume. Some count up the miles, others the hours. But which side has got it right? And does it matter? 

Even the most basic cycle computer records distance and time, while cycling apps like Strava and Garmin Connect have automated the totalling up of training across weeks, months, and even years. This makes it easy to track training volume – essentially, how much you’ve ridden during a specified time period. This allows you to plan for progressive overload, gradually increasing distance or duration each week to keep your body adapting and fitness increasing. 

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Charlie Allenby
Freelance journalist

Charlie Allenby is a freelance journalist specialising in cycling, running and fitness. He has written for publications including the Guardian, the Independent, T3, Bike Radar, Runner’s World, Time Out London and Conde Nast Traveller, and cut his teeth as staff writer for Road Cycling UK (RIP). He is also the author of Bike London: A Guide to Cycling in the City. When not chained to his desk, Charlie can be found exploring the lanes and bridlepaths of Hertfordshire and Essex aboard his pink and purple Genesis Fugio.