Just about every runner wants to improve their mile time at some point in training. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned runner, long distance runner or sprinter – running a mile is something we all have in common.
Running a mile is the foundation of our sport. We build upon in with distance training plans, and break it down into intervals for speed workouts. However, despite the fact that so much of our training in based on the mile, it is still frequently overlooked.
How can I run a faster mile?
Many runners find themselves asking this question in some form or another. Whether you want to run your fastest mile without stopping, without getting tired, or are aiming for a specific pace – getting faster is a common goal.
In order to get faster in any capacity as a runner, you’ll have to spend time on the mile.
Improving your mile time will pay off in any training season.
While a mile may sound short when compared to long distance goal, it certainly feels long in the moment when you’re trying to run your fastest mile.
Running a fast mile takes an incredible amount of strength, endurance and physical fitness. Training to improve your mile time requires preparation and hard work, but those efforts can quickly be rewarded with a faster mile time.
It’s time to run your fastest mile.
Whether you’re hoping to run a faster mile tomorrow or willing to dedicate weeks to improving greatly, there are a few strategies you’ll want to incorporate during your training and workouts.
These 9 tips will help you improve your mile time and run your fastest mile in no time.
9 Ways to Improve Your Mile Time
Incorporate core workouts.
Whether you realize it or not, your core plays a large role in your success on the run. The core contributes greatly to overall running form – having a strong core helps maintain proper form even as we begin to fatigue.
The core muscles should be active and engaged with each step we take. A strong core can help minimize the extra efforts our body needs to take to maintain healthy form, leaving more energy left over to run faster or farther.
Running a faster mile time requires more strength than before. In order to set your legs up for maximum success, you’ll need to first focus on your core. A strong core promotes a healthy form, which allows you to run faster paces with less effort.
Increase your turnover.
A beneficial strategy to use when trying to improve your mile time is to increase your stride turnover. As you pick up the pace, increase the number of steps you take.
Rather than trying to lengthen your stride (which is what our natural instincts tell us to do), increase your cadence and focus on taking quick steps as you run faster.
This increased turnover naturally makes you want to run faster, but also helps prevent many common running injuries from occurring.
Include interval training.
If you want to run a faster mile, you’re going to have to run faster during training – there’s no way around it.
One of the best ways you can practice running faster is to incorporate interval workouts regularly throughout training. These interval workouts involve running short distances, usually 200 or 400 meters, much faster than your goal mile pace.
Breaking things down into shorter distances not only helps you gradually build mental strength, but will help your body practice running faster paces. Most intervals are short enough that you can run faster than your normal pace since you don’t need to maintain that pace for a long period of time.
Try including some 200 or 400 meter repeats in your regular training as you prepare to improve you mile time.
Focus on your form.
Increasing your pace means you’ll be increasing the amount of effort you expend on the run. In which case, you are going to want to minimize the amount of effort needed elsewhere.
Making little tweaks and adjustments to your form can drastically reduce the effort that is needed on the run – allowing your body to dedicate a majority of its focus to increasing the pace.
Check for any muscle imbalances, inactive muscles, or improper form as you begin training to run a faster mile. Spending a bit of time activating your muscles and ensuring your body is well-balanced will help you stay injury free as you incorporate more speed.
Adjusting your stride, arm swing, and posture also help increase your efficiency as a runner and reduce the extra energy you might be wasting when running.
Run hills and stairs.
There’s no sugar-coating it: running a faster mile means that you are going to need to get stronger. Picking up the pace and improving your time requires more strength than it does to go slower.
Most of this strength comes from our lower body – specifically, our quads and glutes.
As you prepare to improve your mile time, you’ll want to focus on improving the strength in your lower body. This will require more than just interval training and speed workouts.
One of the best, most effective ways to activate your glutes and improve your leg strength is to run hills and stairs.
Build full body strength.
Speaking of strength, there’s no better way to ensure you are as prepared as possible than to improve the strength of your entire body. It may be tempting to spend your strength training days only doing squats and lunges, but don’t forget about the rest of your body.
Improving your full body strength will set you up to quickly run faster and reduce the amount of effort it takes to improve your mile time.
Practice proper recovery.
While giving your all on the run and during workouts is certainly advantageous when working towards running a faster mile, the time you spend resting plays just as significant a role in your end result.
Give it your all during each run and workout, but don’t forget to give it your all when you rest, too.
Spend your rest days focusing on recovery. Take time off your feet, incorporate a regular stretching routine, and practice added recovery techniques to keep your body fresh and energized for each workout.
Mix up your workouts.
Repeating 400 meter intervals will certainly help you get faster, but not nearly as quickly as if you mix things up. Rather than getting stuck on running the same workout over and over, try to mix things up during training.
Mix up the distance of your runs, throw in some fartleks, sprint intervals and intervals at your goal pace.
Vary your training as much as possible. Incorporate bouts of speed by running faster than your goal pace, at your goal pace, and vary the length of your intervals each week.
Channel your mental strength.
Running a mile might sound short when compared to your 12 mile long run – but when giving it your full effort, finishing a mile can feel like a marathon.
Anticipate the amount of effort you will need to run your fastest mile, and build a solid mental strategy to help get you through the tough moments. Find a mantra, practice positive thinking, and remind yourself of your purpose.
Although the distance itself might not be the challenge, completing it at a new-to-you pace is bound to feel difficult. Spend time developing mental strength during training, and anticipate how you will use this strength to keep yourself from giving up.
Setting a goal to improve your mile time is certainly beneficial for every runner. Running a faster mile will benefit you in just about every area of your training.
Completing your fastest mile yet requires mental strength, physical fitness and more running endurance than you’ve needed so far. Running a faster mile helps you run a faster long run, shave time off your racing PR and build muscle needed to accomplish long term goals.
Make a point of continuously working to improve your mile time, and you’ll see the results in just about every area of your training.