All runners — even Usain Bolt and Flo-Jo — had to start somewhere. And why not make it the mile mark? Running a mile is the perfect fitness goal because it’s perfectly attainable, even for people who have never run before and those who consider themselves to be totally out of shape. Here are our best tips for running a mile so you can soak up all that sweet, sweet runner’s high!
How Long Should it Take to Run a Mile?
If you’re looking to meet the mile mark for the first time, don’t worry too much about speed. The current world record for fastest mile run belongs to Hicham El Guerrouj, who clocked in at 3:43.13, but a good speed for a beginner is anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes per mile. Don’t think too much about numbers, though. To figure out if you’re hitting a good speed, check and see if you can hold a conversation with someone else while you are running. You want to be able to speak to another person without labored breathing.
The Mile-in-a-Month Program
In this program, we’re aiming to hit the mile mark within a four-week period. This allows us to take it slow and build up to a good pace over time. We recommend training three times a week, dedicating a half-hour at a time. Alternating between short periods of running and walking is the best approach when starting out.
- Warm up. Warm up like you’re getting ready to run a marathon, even if you’re just beginning your first one-miler. Start your session with a five-minute warmup, stretching the entire body and doing some light walking. Stretching and warming up is critical to ensuring that your muscles are limber and ready for vigorous exercise.
- Go slow. Literally! Alternate between walking and running. Start wherever you’re comfortable — running for one to three minutes and then walking for one to three minutes is a solid starting point. Don’t push yourself to make a ton of progress quickly, as you could risk seriously injuring yourself in the process.
- Advance at your own pace. After your first day of walking-running, take a rest day to give your muscles a chance to recover. The following day, when you head out for your run, try to add a minute to your running time, keeping your walking time and overall time the same. Add a minute each session until you’re running the entire mile.
- Follow a program. If you prefer something a bit more structured, there are various running programs you can use to get started. One popular option is the Couch to 5K (C25K) app, which trains runners gradually in small increments over nine weeks to run not one but 3.1 miles (or five kilometers)! Be sure to bring your phone with you in a running-friendly armband to track your progress.
Just because you’ve mastered the mile doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go further. There are tons of benefits of running a mile a day, from conditioning the cardiovascular system to maintaining a healthy weight to building strength in the legs. Integrating a one-miler into your exercise regimen can set you off on the right foot, so to speak.