Wristwatch with 1:00:00 displayedHow well can you estimate before a run how long it is going to take you? Can you tell somebody that you are going out for a run and what time you are going to get back? How close do you usually come to your estimate?

Generally speaking, I can be pretty accurate with my run duration predictions. I can usually tell within 10 seconds or so how long a race is going to give me on any given day (up to a 10k at any rate), and for training runs I will generally be more accurate the longer the run is going to be. This evening I told my wife that I would get home in about an hour, as I planned on running an easy 8 miles. I stopped my watch when I got home and looked down to see that I had run for exactly one hour to the second.

An advantage to knowing how long your runs will take is that people will know when to start getting worried when you don’t show up. In November of 2004 I ran a 17 mile training run while preparing for the San Antonio Marathon. I was right on pace at 10 miles when my girlfriend and my mother drove by to give me some water. Shortly after they left, I missed my turn. Coincidentally, so did they. My 17 miler turned into a 28 mile run, which took a little bit longer to complete than I had told them that it would.

My mother decided that my girlfriend was right for me when she was freaking out as much as my mother. When I was about 10 minutes late, they started to get worried, and after 15 or 20 minutes they started driving around to see if they could find me. Unfortunately, I was about 8 miles away from where they were looking. My problem was that I knew the general area that I was in well enough for things to look familiar and for me to find my way to my Uncle’s house, but not well enough to realize that I had missed a turn and added 11 miles onto the run until I was probably about 23 or 24 miles into it.

How well can you estimate how long a run is going to take? Have you ever had a similar problem where you did not show up when you were supposed to, and somebody had to look for you? Or have you never gotten lost on a run? I don’t mind getting lost now and again, and have gotten lost on runs at least a dozen and a half times, but that one run was a bit over board.