One of the most effective ways to train – and one of the most beneficial for your physical and mental health – is mastering the mile.
“The mile is an amazing blend of speed and endurance, and a good indicator of your overall cardiovascular health,” says Danny Mackey, head coach of the Brooks Beasts, an elite pro track team. “You can hammer it, and because it doesn’t take long to recover, you can run it again soon to see how much you’ve improved. You can’t say that about a marathon, where most people are just trying to finish.”
Even better, Mackey says you’ll notice yourself getting faster in three weeks. While a typical in-shape guy can run a mile in 10 minutes, running one in 6:30 is where the bragging rights really lie. (The world record stands at 3:43.) Here’s exactly how to get after it.
3 Key Workouts to Run Your Fastest Mile
To incinerate your current mile PB, tackle each of the following workouts from Mackey every week for 8 weeks. Order doesn’t matter, as long as you’re taking a day off in between workouts to give your body time to absorb your gains and recover.
Run 200 meters // Rest // Repeat 10 times
Run these repeats at a pace that’s 2 to 4 seconds faster than your usual mile pace. However long it takes you to run one, rest for three times that long before the next repeat. (If you do the 200 in 45 seconds, take a 2:15 rest.) Run the tenth effort as fast as the first.
Sprints build the muscle strength and power it takes to hold speed over the entire mile, and doing them in this repeating format will help you dial in your form.
Hill Endurance Session
Run up a hill for 60 to 90 seconds // Walk back down // Repeat 8 times
Find a long hill outdoors or set a treadmill to an incline. (The hill should be steep enough that running up it feels like a nine out of ten in terms of effort.)
This increases your stamina and prepares you psychologically to go all out in the home-stretch. “It will be painful in the final 400, and this gets you familiar with that feeling,” Mackey says.
Run 3 miles
Start at a pace that feels like a six out of ten in terms of effort and gradually increase to a seven, Mackey says. This should be about 45 seconds to 1 minute slower than your mile pace and feel consistently challenging.
A tempo run pushes you out of your comfort zone with a pace that feels just a touch faster than you’d want to be running, and this constant effort builds your endurance for race day.
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