Running a mile is a great way to get in shape. But what techniques should you use to make sure you run a mile FASTER?
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced marathoner, we runners are always looking to improve our pace (what is pace in running).
There are many different factors that influence how fast you run a mile:
- Some of these include your AGE, gender, and running experience.
- Perhaps you’ve been tweaking your DIET, practicing your form, or improving your workout routine, in an attempt to rack up the achievements on the track.
In order to run a faster mile, you need to understand these factors and apply them to your training.
The biggest reason to run faster is that it makes you feel awesome! When you run fast, you feel powerful, STRONG, and unstoppable. And that feeling lasts longer than any workout pill or supplement.
So if you’ve taken a look at your current mile time and found yourself filled with DREAD, your next goal may be to slice it down and improve your personal best.
Running a fast mile isn’t for everyone. You need to be tactical, strong, and fit, and the chances are, you either love it or hate it.
Not sure how to run a mile faster?
Stick with us to learn some of the most effective ways to get more speed, and maximize your potential.
To run a faster mile, you’ll need to target a number of areas. The first is ENDURANCE.
You may not like us for saying this (sorry in advance), but to improve your mile run time, it’s not enough to run a mile continuously, you’ll need to run for longer than a mile.
Don’t worry; we’re not asking you to go from 2k to 10k a day overnight.
Instead, you’ll need to adapt gradually and work on a slow and patient build-up.
How many times a week are you running a mile? Aim for a program that encourages you to add on no more than a mile a week.
Running a mile every day has its benefits (“a mile a day keeps the doctor away”), but it doesn’t necessarily help you to become a fast runner.
Focus on consistent, easy-paced runs that increase endurance without injury. In other words, run long, and run slow.
2. Improve Your Speed
You can’t run a mile faster without improving your SPEED. Increasing your speed will allow you to feel more comfortable running at your target pace.
To do this, get your body used to run FASTER than your target pace.
This means you’ll need to run quicker than a mile pace, which is considered more anaerobic than aerobic exercise.
You’ll need to rely on your twitch fibers more to pull this off.
There are two types of twitch fibers: slow-twitch fibers and fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Slow-twitch fibers focus on endurance, and fast-twitch fibers will give you a sharp burst of energy but may make you feel tired quicker.
To prepare your body for these exercises, partake in sessions where you run your target pace for 800 and 400 meters.
Make sure you leave at least two minutes of recovery time between sessions.
3. Tempo Runs
Tempo runs are a form of speed workout that improves your body’s ability to run faster for longer.
If you’re a more scientific runner, there’s a chance you know about, or have tried, a tempo run at least once.
You’re running either at or near your lactate threshold when you do a tempo run.
This means you’re producing the maximum amount of lactate that your body can from your bloodstream and muscles.
This is the fastest pace you can still run at aerobically.
To successfully run the mile, you’ll need to train your body to cope with the lactic acid build-up in your muscles.
This means that your lactate tolerance is one of the key factors in reducing your run time.
Most tempo runs work at a pace where your body switches from running aerobically to anaerobically (or the anaerobic threshold).
If you’re a beginner wanting to temp run, you can try the following exercise:
- 5 x 3 minutes at tempo pace
- 60-second jog between each minute
Then, build up to 5 x 4 minutes at tempo pace with a 60-second jog between each minute.
Once you’re comfortable with each stage, continue to increase the number of repetitions.
Note: Your tempo pace is the point where your heart rate climbs and then levels off, also known as your lactate threshold.
Monitor your heart rate for a mid-length run (15 to 20 minutes), and you should be able to identify your lactate threshold or tempo pace.
This is the pace you’ll use to base your tempo run exercises off of.
4. Tweak Your Running Form
Every runner knows that running form is crucial for running efficiency, reducing fatigue, and preventing injury.
If you want to run a faster mile, make sure you’re looking at your running form. Is there room for improvement?
If you think your running form needs tweaking, here are a few tips you can use to get you started:
- Avoid Over-Striding: Monitor the alignment of your knee and ankle when they make contact with the ground. Ideally, your knee should flex above the ankle when you make contact. With an over-stride, your ankle will be ahead of your knee.
- Posture: How’s your posture? If you want efficient form, you’ll need to maintain a tall posture as you run. If your hips are tight and you notice yourself running at an angle, try performing some hip-flexor mobility exercises, and you’ll see noticeable improvements.
- Control Your Breathing: Breathing is another important factor that can determine the effectiveness of your running form. Take some time to focus on breathing patterns, and ensure your breathing rhythm when running fits with the rhythm the rest of your body is running to. This will prevent you from getting overtired and make running a faster mile a more achievable goal.
5. Lose Weight
If this isn’t relevant, read on.
Not everyone needs to lose weight to run a faster mile. In fact, in most cases, runners just need to tweak their training and warm-up routines to reach the goal.
However, if you’re carrying a few excess pounds you’ve been meaning to shed, we have some science to give you an incentive.
According to ResearchGate, the average runner gets 2 seconds faster per mile for every pound they lose.
Pretty cool, right?
However, if you’re trying to run a faster mile, there’s a good chance you’re already working on a strict or demanding workout routine.
If you’re not careful, dieting incorrectly can lead to some severe health problems that can negatively affect your performance.
If you want to lose weight safely, take a look at the following tips:
- Eat foods dense in nutrients, such as berries, fruits, and vegetables.
- Cut back on ‘empty calorie’ foods such as sugary snacks and sodas with no real nutritional value.
- Use proteins, grains, and greens as a base for each mealtime. This will ensure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients and protein to encourage healthy weight loss.
The Bottom Line
For many, the mile is the perfect distance. It’s a satisfying run that’s not too long and not too short.
However, to run it fast requires a LOT of strength, resilience, and a good set of lungs.
Yes, you need some time and patience. And maybe a new training approach, like running slow to running fast, might help you reach your goal more quickly.