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Mile Repeats: What Are They + 4 Workout Examples

Mile repeats seem relatively simple compared to most running workouts, but even so, including them in your training can be one of the most effective ways to increase your speed. Whether you’re preparing for a 5k or full marathon, running a mile repeat workout will surely enhance your training.

What are mile repeats?

Though it may seem too good to be true, mile repeats are exactly what they sound: repeating a 1 mile distance during your run.

Similar to other running workouts, mile repeats take a single distance (in this case, 1 mile) and repeat that interval multiple times during a run.

For example, a mile repeat workout might include a warm up, followed by three 1 mile intervals with a 1 minute break or recovery period in between each.

The key elements of successful mile repeats are finding the correct pace at which to run each mile, including a proper recovery in between each rep, and repeating the interval the right amount.

How many mile repeats should I do?

While the idea of running a mile over and over might be relatively straightforward, deciding on the number of times to repeat the mile is not as simple.

The number of mile repeats you complete in a workout will depend on a few factors: your weekly mileage, the distance you are training for, and your current running fitness.

A good rule of thumb is to start with 2-3 mile repeats, and then increase the number each week until you reach 5-6. Most runners find that 4-5 repeats is plenty for one workout, but some who are training for long distance races or training at very high levels might work their way up to 6 or 7.

How to Structure Mile Repeats

Incorporating mile repeats into your speed workouts is a great way to improve your fitness and get faster over time. However, in order to do so without injury, you’ll need to structure the workout correctly.

Here is the basic format of a mile repeat workout.

  • Warm Up: 10-15 minute warm up at an easy pace, usually 1-2 miles in length
  • Repeats: Anywhere from 2-6 x 1 mile, about 15-20 seconds faster than your goal race pace
  • Recovery: 1-5 minute recovery (no more than ½ mile) walking or at a slow, easy pace
  • Cool Down: 10-15 minute cool down at an easy pace, usually 1-2 miles in length
Mile repeats are a great running workout to help you get faster. Try any of these mile repeat workouts to help build endurance on the track, treadmill or outdoors. #milerepeats #runningworkouts

4 Simple Mile Repeat Workouts

The pace and structure of your workout will depend on the distance for which you are training, your fitness level and your goal pace. Each of these mile repeat workouts serve different purposes, and are a great addition to any training plan.

Mile repeats are a versatile speed workout for beginner to advanced runners, and effectively help improve your pace and fitness for distances from 5k all the way to a full marathon. Check out these variations to find the perfect fit for your training.

5k Pace Mile Repeats

Running mile repeats at 5k pace is a great starting point for many runners in the beginning of training, before their mileage increases. Runners training for a 5k will especially benefit from this type of workout, as it helps them practice maintaining their race pace.

When running mile repeats at 5k pace, you’ll want to aim for a recovery period that is moderate in length. Spend about 3-5 minutes recovering after each repeat, but no more than ½ mile in length. The recovery should be completed at a very slow, easy pace, or a walk for beginner runners.

Aim to complete each mile repeat at the same pace during this workout. Many runners mistakenly run their first mile repeat at a faster pace than they can maintain for the entire workout. To keep the pace consistent, you’ll likely have to hold back slightly in the beginning, and push harder near the end.

Try this workout:

  • Warm Up: 1 mile @ easy pace
  • Mile Repeats: 1 mile @ 5k pace
  • Recovery: 4 minutes @ easy pace or walking
  • >>> Repeat mile & recovery 3x <<<
  • Cool Down: 1 mile @ easy pace

10k Pace Mile Repeats

Running mile repeats at a 10k pace is beneficial for those training for the 10k distance, as it they can practice maintaining race pace. Completing repeats at this pace is also beneficial for runners with high mileage training who are focusing on building distance, but want to maintain optimal endurance.

When completing a workout at 10k pace, keep the recovery short – usually no more than ¼ mile in length. Spend about 2-3 minutes recovering at a relaxed, easy run pace, focusing on slowing your heart rate and maintaining endurance to complete the entire workout.

Be careful not to increase the number of repeats you complete until you are able to maintain a consistent pace throughout every mile.

Try this workout:

  • Warm Up: 1 mile @ easy pace
  • Mile Repeats: 1 mile @ 10k pace
  • Recovery: 2 minutes @ easy pace
  • >>> Repeat mile & recovery 4x <<<
  • Cool Down: 1 mile @ easy pace

Half Marathon Pace Mile Repeats

Running mile repeats at a half marathon pace are perfect for those at the beginning of their training for a half marathon, or new runners who are just getting started with speed workouts. This pace allows runners to get used to the structure of interval workouts without pushing to the point of fatigue or burnout.

It can be beneficial for seasoned runners to complete half marathon paced mile repeats at the beginning of their training cycles, before increasing their pace as fitness improves. Runners who are training for long distance races can add in these types of repeats to help improve their fitness and avoid overtraining.

When running this type of workout, you’ll want to aim for a pace that is challenging, but comfortable. The key is finding a pace that is slightly faster than your goals, but not so fast that you are unable to maintain until the end of the final mile.

Try this workout:

  • Warm Up: 1-2 miles @ easy pace
  • Mile Repeats: 1 mile @ half marathon pace
  • Recovery: 1.5 minutes @ easy pace
  • >>> Repeat mile & recovery 5x <<<
  • Cool Down: 1 mile @ easy pace

Tempo Pace Mile Repeats

Running mile repeats at a tempo pace is perfect for those training for long distances who want to maintain their current fitness without leading to burnout or injury. In addition, tempo paced mile repeats are a great place to start for runners who are new to speed work.

The key to mile repeats at tempo pace is finding a pace that is comfortably challenging. You’ll want to aim for the fastest pace that you could sustain for an hour without struggle.

This workout will provide your body with the challenge it needs while still being able to accomplish long runs and high mileage without fatigue.

Try this workout:

  • Warm Up: 2 miles @ easy pace
  • Mile Repeats: 1 mile @ tempo pace
  • Recovery: 1 minute @ easy pace
  • >>> Repeat mile & recovery 5x <<<
  • Cool Down: 2 miles @ easy pace

These workouts are a great starting point, and can be modified to fit into any training plan. Whether you are brand-new to running or have been running for years, mile repeats have the potential to greatly improve your running.

For best results, be sure to look for a flat, relatively smooth path to complete your repeats. The track is a great option, but they can still certainly be completed even if you don’t have access to a track.

Aim for consistent paces, hold back in the beginning, and keep your recovery slow and easy – no matter how good you may feel. As you get more familiar with the workout and your fitness improves, increase the number of mile repeats you complete, increase the interval pace, or decrease your recovery time.

You’ll be sure to benefit from mile repeats in no time!

More running workouts to increase speed: