How to Run a Fast Mile

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This article will focus on how you can reduce your mile time.


  1. Get a running buddy. It is highly recommended this be carried out with someone who runs about the same speed as yourself if possible. Training alone is not discouraged but training with a team of similar runners is a huge motivation booster.
  2. Set your mind to it. Whether your goal is 5 minutes, 6 minutes, 7 minutes or even more, it cant be overstressed that one needs a lot of motivation to break a personal record. The mind has a habit of emulating your thoughts. If you believe something wont happen, your actions will make it so that it doesnt happen.
  3. Stretch before and after practice and meets. Always do a 5-10 minute warm up and cool down. These will help keep you from injury.
  4. Learn how to run properly. Posture is crucial and sometimes is what prevents many people from running faster.
  5. Start with distance running and stick with this for about 4 weeks so your body gets used to long runs. Keep the pace consistent. Right now youre focusing on increasing your mileage. For the first week, do thirty minute runs each day (20 if youre out of shape). The second week, increase this to 40 minutes, then to 50 minutes the next, then 50 - 60 minutes the fourth. But remember that there are many different techniques you can use, so read up on how to run longer.
  6. Take Sundays off except for some stretching or cross training.
  7. Incorporate speed work in the fifth week. These are known as tempo runs and should be done once or twice a week. They should be at least two days apart from each other to allow for recovery. Tempo has three parts: Practice pace, race pace, and practice. Say youre doing a 30 minute run. You would run 10 minutes normal pace, run race pace for 10 minutes, then slow it back down for the remaining 10 minutes. For simplification, race pace is any pace above your normal pace.
  8. Do tempo runs for about 2-3 weeks while continuing with your distance runs on the other days. Distance runs should now be about 40-45 minutes. By the 7th or 8th week, you should be comfortable with running.
  9. Stop your tempo runs at around the 8th or 9th week. The aim here is to do intervals of 2000m, 1000m, 400m, 300m. The exact number isnt necessary. The longer the distance, the fewer the repetitions. So on one day after a 20-30 minute run, proceed to do 4 repetitions 2000m with rest in between around 3 minutes. By your last repetition, you should feel like quitting, thats how tired you should be. Always a have a recovery distance run in between the days of your sprints/speed workout. Recovery runs are very light and relaxed runs that last about 30mins or less. On another day you could do a 6 x 1000m or 10 x 400 or 12 x 300 (these examples are really long... you dont need to do that many reps if you are a beginner). The repetitions are chosen arbitrarily. You can even mix then up on the same day such that you do a pyramid. 2000m, rest, 1000m, rest, 400m, rest 300m, rest 400m, rest, 1000m, rest, 2000m. Speed workouts should last 2 weeks.
  10. Run your mile. Heres some lap-by-lap strategy:
    • Pre-race: Warm up. Do a few paced sprints to get your heart rate up. Mentally go through the race in your head. Know what times you want to have at each lap.
    • Lap 1: Youll want to start out a little faster than what is necessary to get your target time. The fact of the matter is that psychologically, youre going to slow down as you get further into the mile, so make sure this one is good to compensate. Keep in mind, though, you dont want to spend it all on this lap. A good example would be, if you want to run a 5:00 mile, each lap would need to be 75 seconds. A good time for your first lap would be 71-73; not too fast, but fast enough to give you some slack.
    • Lap 2: Fall into pace. This is where those 400 meter intervals you worked on will come in handy; know what it feels like to run the pace you need to run. This is the lap which should be right on target. In the 5:00 minute mile we mentioned earlier, THIS is the lap which should be exactly 75 seconds, so your time at the halfway point should be 2:26-2:28. Your adrenaline rush will probably start to wear off midway through this one, and youll start feeling it, but focus on your running form and keeping the pace.
    • Lap 3: Mentally and physically, this is the toughest lap for most people. More often than not, this is the one which will determine if you get your target time or not. Chances are, you will slow down from your original pace. In our 5:00 mile example, most people will run from about 77-78 seconds. However, since the first lap was hopefully strong, this puts us almost perfectly at 3:45, which is exactly on target. Nonetheless, it is important to make a conscious effort to keep pace on this lap, or else you will fall behind. Remember, your next lap is the last one!
    • Lap 4: This is it. Youre almost there. Thats what you need to be telling yourself at this point. You probably slowed down on your previous lap, so you need to really strut your stuff on this one and mentally push it to get to that time. Especially important is the last 200 meters- on most tracks, thats the final curve. All that can be said about this lap is that you need to mentally give it your all, and youll make that target time.
  11. Keep it up! Your mile should be significantly lower if you put enough effort into the exercises but after the speed workouts, try and keep a consistent schedule.


  • This is not a rigid schedule. Tailor it to your needs. Some people can handle more, some cant, but the basic process here is sharpening distance skills while honing in on speed.
  • The mile requires a combination of distance work and speed work. Strength work and plyometrics should also be fitted in.
  • If youre running to win or get some points, use strategy on the track. Always speed up at the curves of the track for about 6-10 seconds, then go back to your previous pace. This will help you drain a couple of seconds.
  • Keep yourself well-hydrated at all times, drinking all the water you personally need, but not too much to give you cramps when running.
  • Every now and then, do 5-10 100m strides after distance runs. These are not sprints. Theyre exaggerated runs where you open up your legs more than normal when running.
  • Its not about the time you put in, its about the effort. Sure, you can put in 30 minutes of running, but try each day to reasonably increase your speed slowly. You dont want to make any radical changes. Keep your progress steady.
  • If youre in your 10th week or training and you feel like running is a chore for you, then you should run one day and do something else the following day such as skate, play tennis or even walk the dog.
  • On a fairly regular basis, run race pace a few 400m races (1 lap around the track usually). This will help you gain a feel for what a specific pace feels like. You can then mentally divide the mile into four 400s at paces you chose.
  • If this is too much for you then start off by doing 400m and time yourself so if your first time is 2 mins. then keep going till you are at 1 min. then go on to 800m and so on.
  • When you run, it is better for you to breathe through your nose, so only breathe through your mouth when you are working really hard and need to. It is always ok to breathe out your mouth though.
  • Dont make really small steps; it wastes your energy.


  • There will be certain days you just dont feel like running but this is usually mental. Once youre 20 minutes into the run, youll garner more enthusiasm; but listen to your body. If youre feeling pain, obviously take the day off. If it persists, see a doctor or a trainer.
  • Dont over-train. Once youre into your 3rd or 4th week, you should feel better and more refreshed after a run than before. If youre always feeling tired or exhausted after runs, take a day or two off even if its not a Sunday. On your day back to running, you might actually run faster than before.
  • If you are out of shape, or have not run for a while, dont try to be a hero and start off running 8 mile runs. Not only will you demotivate yourself, but you are risking developing injuries such as stress fractures.

Things You Will Need

  • Adequate shoes
  • Drinking water
  • Stopwatch
  • Person to time you while you run (optional)
  • Buddy to run with (optional but recommended)

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