For this:

A Raider meet is designed to test the physical, mental and teamwork capabilities of its competitors, who work individually and in teams of eight. It includes a battery of physical fitness tests including push-ups, sit-ups and a mile run for time.

—Dan McFarland, The Free Lance-Star

Does it mean the run was done to help pass time? Because:

a mile run for fun

would probably mean it was done to obtain amusement.

  • 2
    It means that the competitors are attempting to run the mile in the shortest time they can. Sep 3, 2014 at 19:51
  • @StoneyB Would this "a mile run for shortest time" be better?
    – meatie
    Sep 3, 2014 at 20:04
  • 3
    No, it's a technical term. People who run a lot distinguish between running "for time" and "for distance". Sep 3, 2014 at 20:05
  • @StoneyB So, an average layman would easily misunderstand "a mile run for time"?
    – meatie
    Sep 3, 2014 at 20:59
  • 1
    No, a lot of people run, and the rest of us have to listen to them talk about it! But a "mile run for time" is an odd thing to see without context. I suppose in this case it means a mile run against the clock as opposed to a 'race', with all the competitors starting at the same time. Sep 3, 2014 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


If you understand running for fun or a mile run for fun, you can understand this a mile run for time the same way. In short, this for is used for stating the purpose of the action.

I agree with StoneyB in his comment, for time in this context means aiming for the best time or for the shortest time the athlete can do in the given activity, which is running in this case. This for time is in contrast with another kind of running, which is running for distance.

As someone who loves water sports, I'd like to quote this passage from a book I found on Google Books. It has a similar example usage: a 20-minute swim for distance:

[...] To find the category most appropriate for you, you will take a test.

The test is a 20-minute swim for distance. That is, you will see how far you can swim in 20 minutes. The distance you swim in the 20-minute time period will determine which level you will choose.
--Swimming Workouts for Fitness and Training, by Richard Michaels
(emphasis mine)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .