Running a Fast Mile

Can’t see the video? Click through to the post.

I’ve never been a particularly fast runner and even after training for and completing a marathon, I’m still pretty slow. So my March Fitness Challenge is a single mile.

A mile is 1609 meters, about 30 feet more than 4 laps around a standard track, which is 400m on the inside lane. I did my test run on March 1st and surprised myself by running it in 6m 50s. My friend Jason Evanish, who ran cross country  in high school and ran something like a 4:45 mile, gave me me some tips on training for a fast mile. Maybe not revolutionary stuff, but as someone used to training shorter distances, it was helpful:

  • Intervals workouts: run 1 laps at the track at your goal pace (mine is 6min, so slightly under 1:30 for the single lap). Repeat 4-8 times, with a few minutes of rest in between. Last one should really hurt. Once or twice a week.
  • Longer runs: 4-5 mile runs, don’t worry as much about time, just get some endurance in
  • Fartleks: Swedish for “speed play”, this is something inbetween intervals and long runs, a mix of easy running, with bursts of faster pace interspersed. I’ve read a lot about these and need to actually try doing them
  • Swinging arms: it’s important to swing your arms straight forward and not cross your arms across your body, which wastes energy. Also, swing your arms back hard enough that your hands meet your hips. This opens up your chest so you can breathe better.

I’ve been trying to follow his advice and also modifying my workout routine a bit: doing heavy lifting only one time a week, down from two (which helped for improving handstand pushups) and doing moderate biking on the days I don’t run or do track workouts.

The month is already over half over so we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping to crack a 6 minute mile. Let me know if you have any other tips or advice for me in the comments.

Lap one of four

Edit – Final Mile Time

So I finished my mile challenge with about a 20 second drop, from 6:50 to 6:30. I was hoping to drop it further, to the low 6 minutes and perhaps even break into 5, but it was not going to happen.

The day was a little cool and I wasn’t feeling my best, but you just gotta make the most of testing day. Was definitely wiped at the end. My friend Jason tells me a 20 second drop is pretty good for a month, probably because when you’re training a ton like he was, you didn’t see drops that big, that quick.

Anyway, here it is!

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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  1. JasonShen Evanish Great tips. The tendency is to just run one mile after one mile & when the times do not better frustration begins.

  2. Jason,
     
    Thanks for the shout out. As you can see from your video…your form degrades a little as you get tired, which is normal. That’s a big opportunity for gain. If you can maintain your form, or even get better when you’re tired, you’ll fight some of the tendency to lose time on later laps. 
     
    If you’re really hurting, try swinging your arms harder…your legs should pick up their pace too. Just make sure to not have your arms cross over your body; the biomechanics won’t work to your advantage then.
     
    I owe all my running knowledge to an awesome high school coach, Steve Koons, who was an All-American at Cross Country in college (http://www.millersvilleathletics.com/sports/2011/7/22/All-Americans.aspx?id=151). Glad I could share some of what he imparted to me and my teammates.
     
    Thanks,Jason

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