How to run a fast mile
Marathons and Half Marathons may have supplanted it as Britain’s favourite race distance, but for pure adrenalin fuelled / lactic laced enjoyment you cannot beat running the Mile!
It’s an even with a rich British heritage. From Roger Bannister, to Coe, Cram and Ovett, and Zola Budd and Kelly Holmes, it’s an event which holds a special place in the annals of British running. It’s also a distance anyone can tackle, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an elite, anyone can post a time.
Although 1609 metres doesn’t sound like much of a challenge you need to be prepared to run your best possible race. The mile requires a unique combination of speed and endurance, so you need to work on both in your training. Oh, and being prepared to buy a ticket to the pain train is a prerequisite!
Here’s our tips to help you run your best possible mile.
Work on Speed in your training.Building endurance comes relatively easy to most runners- we all love a social lunchtime run, but building speed is a challenge. Speed training benefits all runners. It forces you to use a larger range of muscle groups; improving efficiency, building strength and helping to develop technique. Try 6-10 short fast hill sprints (20-30 secs), with a walk back down to your starting position after each one.
Set a target, and be ambitious.Believe it or not, most people tend to underestimate themselves. You can get a rough of an appropriate mile target by taking 20% off your pace per mile for 10k. You should then try to get an idea of what this pace feels like through running some intervals. Try to do this on a flat, measured course so all you have to focus on your effort: Aim for 6 x 400m or 5 x 2mins with 2-3min walk or jog between each one, trying to ‘dial into’ your goal race pace.
Strength is important.Fast running is more ballistic and requires greater power. To run your best race you should improve leg strength, focusing on calves, hamstrings and glutes. Some simple running drills and plyometrics (power training based around hops and jumps) will also be beneficial.
Practise good technique.Technique is important to unable you to reach your potential. Watch some of the top runners in the world; they run with big expansive piston shaped strides, short, light contact with the ground and dynamic arm movement. 800m World Record Holder David Rudisha suggested that the best advice he ever received was that fast running involves a series of pulling motions. Practise this in training over a few short 100m strides or sprints. Hold a tall posture and lean forward slightly as you run, ‘pulling’ your feet forward quickly as they leave the ground behind you. At the same time pull or drive your arms backwards to drive you forwards, with the arm swinging from the shoulder joint. Remember this as you dash for the finish line.
On Race Day: Focus on the third quarter and give it some welly.The first half of the race should feel pretty good, but by the time you reach the halfway point you will be starting to feel the strain. This is the point where you really need to concentrate to maintain your effort. Don’t sit back and leave your push until the final quarter - you’ll always find an extra gear as you sense the finish anyway! Give it a real bash- what’s the worst that could happen?