Mile News

A Beginner’s Guide to Running a Mile Race

July 11, 2019

"You’ll also definitely see the speed training translate into your longer runs. Don’t be surprised when running a couple miles feels easier and happens faster than it did beforehand.”

By Emily Abbate, GQ

You can do a lot of things in 6 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 10Ks and 5Ks, but lately, Mile competitions have been popping up all over the U.S., too—thanks in part to the Bring Back the Mile campaign. 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 6 minutes or 10. As you make timed Miles 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 the weeks of 30-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 PE.

The training
Gearing up to run a serious Mile might also mean 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.

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Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

Become a Mile Maniac member or a BBTM sponsor today! Join us, and go Mile!

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