Choosing Between Quality And Quantity

“Quality versus quantity.” That phrase is so ingrained in my psyche that I can’t hear the word “quality” without thinking of its quasi-opposite, “quantity.” But do we have to choose between quality and quantity? And if we do, is quality always the right choice?

Quality and Quantity

It’s not like quality and quantity are really opposites, or mutually exclusive, or at either ends of a seesaw. But we often are asked to prioritize one or the other.

Choosing Quality

When my kids were little, I think the phrase “quality time” was meant to make me feel better about how little time I spent with my children. I convinced myself that having a few hours together in the evenings was plenty as long as I made it quality time–whatever that meant after a full day’s work and trying to to juggle dinner, homework, and baths. 

As a runner, I am told that I can run less frequently and still train for a race as long as I focus on quality runs. Apparently, I can cut out “easy” runs, keep my weekly long runs, and rotate tempo runs, hill repeats, and speed work, and still improve my finish times.

With food, we are told that smaller portions of quality selections can be more satisfying, especially if we take the time to savor what we are eating. I agree with this one, to a point. I am more satisfied with a square of good dark chocolate than I am with a Hershey’s® bar.

Swiss Chocolate

Good chocolate from my trip to Switzerland

But I don’t always want to choose quality over quantity.

Choosing Quantity

Now that my kids are older, I have even less time with them, but it is even harder to orchestrate “quality” time together. Sometimes, I have to make do with quantity–long car rides, watching ALL the football games, running errands–and appreciate the mundane.

As for running, I run because I enjoy running, not because I am aiming for a certain finish time. Yes, I train for my races, but I don’t want to sacrifice “fun” runs just so I can shave a few seconds off a personal record. Easy, “just run” runs may not make the “quality” grade, but they lift my spirits and improve my mood without the risk of disappointment from not meeting a target pace or other expectation. If every run had a purpose, I might miss out on the simple joys of running.

I try to resist the temptation of too much quantity when I’m eating, but I do like a big-ass salad, and I guarantee that a dinky cup of the best espresso Italy has to offer never could replace the pot of coffee I crave in the mornings.

Bonavita Coffee Maker

I am still loving my Bonavita coffee maker

Today’s Wednesday Word is quality.

Deb Runs

When might you choose quantity over quality?

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23 Responses to Choosing Between Quality And Quantity

  1. Carla says:

    ahhh I was thinking about this again last and for me with PARENTING it is still QUANTITY OVER QUALITY for sure.
    But, in most other things? Quality. Always quality.
    Carla recently posted…Creating a Fitness Mission Statement.My Profile

  2. I agree with you that we all need those easy runs. Even in the midst of race training. I have a couple runs/week at “race pace”, but if I need to just slow down and enjoy one of them, that’s always an option.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Less is more: Quality race trainingMy Profile

  3. Parenting is one of those situations where I do think quantity is what I would choose. Now that my kids are older, I crave more time to spend with them because I know it is fleeting. Chocolate & coffee? enough said 🙂
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…QualityMy Profile

  4. When it comes to eating, I’m definitely a volume girl: I can eat a salad the size of my head and a bowl of soup that big, too.

    When it comes to running, here’s how I deal with quality vs quantity: I take an off season, usually at least a couple of months at the end of the year, sometimes longer, when I am not actively training for a race. That’s when I get to be reminded of how much running makes me feel better.

    Last year I was forced to cut out my easy runs. And I found that doing so actually helped me. So when I’m training for a goal race, yes, it’s quality over quantity for me and each run has a purpose.

    Quantity still matters, though. I am a low mileage girl, but if I go too low, then I risk injury, too. Still trying to figure out my sweet spot, but I keep an eye on mileage and make sure it doesn’t dip too low — even if that means easy runs if there’s something brewing — and doesn’t get too high, either.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Quality is not an act; it is a habit (Aristotle)My Profile

  5. Steena says:

    Great question, I think it’s something we all silently battle. It’s hard to choose sometimes! For example, i was just looking at my June race schedule and I realized I have a race every Sunday in June. Now I have to prioritize which race I want to do well in, quality vs. quantity! I think your method of realizing the choice and keeping a happy balance works.
    Steena recently posted…On GroupsMy Profile

  6. Darlene says:

    I agree. I love my easy fun runs. I rarely do any else except for races and long runs. Yes, I might be faster if I ran harder but I think I’d enjoy it less.
    Darlene recently posted…Wednesday Word – Qualities of a RunnerMy Profile

  7. Hmmmm great question!!

    As far as football-i would have preferred a larger quantity of touchdowns so that we could have won the championship!

    For running, having a increased number of speed workouts I believe will assist in my desire to run faster with less effort.

    For foot choices a higher daily quantity of fruits and vegetables is a work in progress for me.

    Great post! Thanks for making me think a bit differently about the two.

  8. I think the issue with quality vs. quantity is the result of not having enough good choices available. Like with the parenting thing. Yes, you want to spend time with your kids, but you also have to make a living and find some time for yourself so you don’t end up under the dining room table clutching a vodka bottle and drooling copiously. So you shoot for Quality Time. You can’t run all the time, so you shoot for Quality Time. When you have the choices and the time available, it’s all about having both quality time and plenty of it.
    Anne Louise Bannon recently posted…Stray Thoughts: New Year ThoughtsMy Profile

  9. I definitely think with running, it’s quantity that counts. A fun run still adds miles and experience! But with other forms of fitness, I definitely believe that quality is important, especially for things like weightlifting. High reps with poor form will only hurt ya!
    Amanda @ Adventures with FitNyx recently posted…Quality vs QuantityMy Profile

  10. Lauren says:

    I totally love my easy runs too, even just to get out of the house some days for mental sanity! My kids are still little and some days I beat myself up over working late or going in early. However they know they are loved and I try to enjoy every snuggle I can get!
    Lauren recently posted…Quality Speed IntervalsMy Profile

  11. I agree with you sometimes quantity is needed so much more yet I still do find myself struggling for quality in everything I do.

  12. Sonia says:

    Interesting question! I think I make little choices between the two all the time. With parenting, there are times when I want quantity, but I choose quality because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that I want and knowing that 15 minutes is better than 0. With running, every run might not be the “quality” run that I want, but it does suit a purpose. Depending on how I feel, just getting the miles in might be important (for my physical and mental health) and still suits a purpose.

  13. Yum Yucky says:

    I choose quantity when it come to dollar bills. The quality doesn’t matter. THe bills can be partly ripped and crumbled or even dirty. Quantity over quality! (heheh. I couldn’t resist). Seriously, though. This is a tough question. I actually have to think about it.
    Yum Yucky recently posted…How To Remove Plantar Warts Naturally: No Doctor, No Meds, No Surgical ProcedureMy Profile

  14. great take on the quantity vs quality, i think this is why I love this link up so much! I am kind of a quality girl, I would rather have 1 really good glass of wine instead of 2 crappy ones 🙂 I am working on quality runs this year, I like knowing that I am running with a purpose. Before I think I focused on the quantity and that just wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be. It takes all kinds to make the world go round, right? 🙂
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Quality in Healthcare, does it exist?My Profile

  15. I can’t really weigh in on the parenting idea but I think quality and quantity each have their place in any given moment. If I wanted say 16 races in 2016, I’d probably sacrifice quality in order to meet the quantity. Right now I’m focused on a spring goal race and trying to improve my running so I’m not doing any races for a couple of months to focus on quality. It really just depends on where/what your situation is. Nice post – way to make me think!
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Friday Five: How a Runner Prepares for a Blizzard!My Profile

  16. HoHo Runs says:

    Love your perspective! And when it comes to coffee, QUANTITY is what I choose too!
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Quality vs. QuantityMy Profile

  17. I think that a lot of us were on the same wave length with Wednesday Word last week! I like your point about quantity time with older kids.

    Thanks for linking up!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…When Winter Storm Jonas Turned Into SnowzillaMy Profile

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