6 Tips for Running the Perfect Mile
May is always “mile month” for us as we celebrate the anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road track, Oxford, back in 1954. So why not attempt your own perfect mile this May?
Our 6 Top Tips for Mile Training
- Find yourself a mile! This could be on a treadmill, at the track (4 laps) or measure out a mile, preferably flat, with a GPS sports watch.
- Warm up well. We recommend a good 10 minutes of easy jogging then some dynamic stretching.
- Go for it! Set your benchmark mile. Try to stay aware of pace. It’s easy to set off too fast, especially on your first attempt at the distance.
- Run intervals each week. Good sessions for the mile include 8 x 400 hard with 30 second recovery; 6 x 800 with 60 second recovery.
- Maintain your style, especially in the final third of your mile. Aim for a high cadence and drive with the arms. Imagine a long rubber band attached to your chest, pulling you towards the finish line.
- Try running a timed mile every few months for an objective assessment of your fitness. It’s a great benchmark.
3 Reasons Why We Should All Give the Mile a Go
- It’s accessible yet challenging. If you’re new to running a mile is a great first target before moving up to 5km and beyond. For experienced runners there’s always the challenge of shaving a few precious seconds off your PB.
- It improves pace judgement. Focus on an even pace throughout. Too slow a start and there isn’t the time to get back on schedule. Too fast and your legs will flood with lactic.
- It’s great for your speed in the closing stages of longer races.
The mile forces you to really concentrate on your style. Aim for a high cadence and positive drive with the arms.
A little bit of history...
The sub four-minute mile was always considered the holy grail of middle distance running and many believed it was a physical impossibility. The distance is particularly challenging because it requires a blend of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Mile times fell painfully slowly for many years.
The mile record stayed stubbornly above 4:01 despite the best efforts of Swedish running legends Gunder Hägg and Arne Anderson throughout the 1940s. So when Roger Bannister went sub 4, at the Iffley Road track in Oxford on May 6 1954, he made headlines around the world.
The men's mile record now stands at an amazing 3:43 (Hicham El Guerrouj, 1999). The women's mile record is 4:12:33 (Sifan Hassan), set as recently as 2019. Whatever pace you run, the mile is still great addition to any fitness regime.
Good luck with your mile training. Here are a few great track moments from over the years to get you inspired...
The first four-minute mile – archive footage from the Iffley Road track,1954 with Bannister providing the voice over - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTXoTnp_5sI
Olympic 1500m final, Moscow 1980 – Cram, Coe, Ovett are all realistic medal prospects for Great Britain. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMz0WZzWWlw&t=180s
A limited edition vest, inspired by the kit Sir Roger Bannister wore when he ran the first sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road track on May 6th, 1954. The stripes pay tribute to the original Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) colours from the 1950s.