Mile Race: A Beginner’s Guide to Running Your Fastest Mile

Mile Race: A Beginner’s Guide to Running Your Fastest Mile

You can do a lot of things in six minutes. Drink a beer. Pick out an outfit for date night. And—if you train smart—finish an honest-to-God road race.

Perhaps you are more familiar with the usual menu of marathons and half-marathons and 10K and 5Ks, but lately, single-mile competitions have been popping up all over the U.S., too. And signing up for one is a fantastic choice—not just because it’s only a mile, but also because running a fast one, and finishing the high-intensity, interval-style workouts necessary in order to get good at it, entails the sort of total-body benefits that will make you rethink cardio altogether.

The science

There’s a good reason track and field superstars like Usain Bolt sport such impressive total-body physiques. “Performing quick running intervals enables you to improve your muscular endurance, but also access fast-twitch, explosive muscle fibers that often don’t get activated during longer runs,” says Heather Milton, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Health. “Training for mile running is a great way to maintain muscle mass while still getting in great, aerobic shape.”

Improving your speed also helps to unlock the full calorie-burning potential of longer runs. A 160-pound guy burns around 120 calories running a mile, according to Runner’s World, whether they do it in six minutes or ten. As you make timed miles as a part of your regular routine, you’ll be able to squeeze more calorie-burning miles into the same period of time. Plus, training to race shorter distances is less likely to result in injury than are the weeks of thirty-plus miles that go into preparing for marathons and other longer races.

Perhaps the most appealing benefit of all: You can sign up for the mile race and clear little-to-no space in your calendar for exercise. “Mile training is good for someone who has a lot going on,” says Steve Finley, a Nike+ Running Coach and head coach for the Brooklyn Track Club. “You can run two or three days a week and still go out and put up a great time.” This sprint training is ideal for everyone, in other words, regardless of how they finished (or didn’t finish) in elementary school P.E.

The training

Gearing up to run a serious mile might also means you need, well, some gear. While shoes made for jogging longer distances require gobs of cushioning, short sprints require shoes with a springier, more responsive step. A few options to look at: the New Balance FuelCell Rebel, the Reebok Floatride Run Fast, and the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36.

In order to improve your mile time, you have to know what your mile time is first. “Right at the beginning, try and run your fastest mile—a time trial—to see your starting point,” says Jes Woods, Nike+ Running Coach and ultramarathoner. “This will tell you your current fitness level, and helps set realistic goals for upcoming races.” To mimic race conditions, she suggests tackling this one on a track or pavement, but the treadmill will do if it’s the only available option.

Once you have that benchmark, Finley suggests a three-day training structure: one speed day, one long interval day, and an easy run (or recovery) day.

Speed day

Get out of your comfort zone. Jog a warm-up mile, then run four 400-meter intervals with 90 seconds of rest between each one. Next, move to two 200-meter intervals, and finish with a half-mile cool-down jog.

Here’s the key, though: With each interval, you should be getting faster. For a guy hoping to run a six-minute mile, for instance, Finley suggests starting the ladder right above that pace. “We’re aiming for a progression,” he says. “Your last interval should be a full ten seconds faster than your first one. That’s a great place to be.”

Source : Emily Abbate Link

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