Whether you're starting from scratch or have been running for years, to run a faster mile you're going to need a strategy. POPSUGAR spoke with Alison Désir, USATF level 1 certified coach, and founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women, on how to train to improve your mile time.
"Running a fast mile is all about learning to push through pain," said Alison. If you've ever ran short sprints, you're familiar with the terrible feeling of fatigue that takes over your legs, caused by lactic acid. This feeling typically occurs when participating in anaerobic exercise — high intensity with short exertion like sprints. According to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), distances over half a mile have both an aerobic and anaerobic component of energy contribution. Because of this, you'll want to focus on endurance and strength training. Allison said that during a mile you'll be "extremely uncomfortable," which is why it's important to train your body to be able to handle that discomfort.
"A great way to train for that feeling is through an interval workout," Alison told POPSUGAR. For running specifically, interval workouts consist of short, intense periods of running, followed by longer recovery times. Alison said it's best to do intervals on a running track because you'll always run the exact distance. If you don't have access to a track, Alison said to do your best to approximate the distance.
The following workout has limited recovery time (you're never fully recovered) which will train your body to "push through discomfort" when running a mile, Alison told POPSUGAR. Don't forget to warm up before your workout and cool down after.
The Training Plan
- Run 400 meters (one lap around a 400 meter standard track) at your one-mile pace (how fast you can comfortably run a mile). Repeat six times with one minute of rest in between each interval. Alison advises doing this workout once a week.
- If running 400 meters is too much to begin with, Alison says to run any distance between 200 and 400 meters. Be sure to always keep your rest period at one minute.
- Other workouts during the week should consist of an easy run, a medium run (30 minutes), and a longer run (45-60 minutes).
- To increase your power, Alison said to run 1-minute hill repeats for a total of 6-8 reps. As your fitness improves increase the time and steepness of the hill. If you don't have access to outdoor hills try this treadmill workout.