To race the perfect mile, a runner needs to possess an equal balance of strength and speed.
Think back to your elementary school days and the first race you probably ever ran: the gym-class mile. Fast-forward a few years, through the countless 5Ks, dozens of 10Ks and the half-marathons and marathons you’ve completed. Racing the mile has likely been an afterthought unless you ran track competitively in high school or college.
Fortunately for those of us who weren’t on the track team, or who would like to return to the simpler racing of our youth, all-comer’s track meets are catching on in the U.S., and most meets offer that famous four-lap footrace. It’s also noteworthy that stand-alone one-mile road races are popping up all over the country, offering an alternative to long-distance racing and a different way to connect with the sport.
“The race is hard enough that it takes a great deal of effort, but short enough that anyone feels like they can do it,” says Erik Nedeau, a former 3:57 miler, and the current cross-country and track coach at Amherst College in Massachusetts. “A 5K might seem long to some and a marathon too much of an endeavor, whereas knowing that there is a local mile race coming up can be just the motivator.”
Don’t fear the mile. It’s not just an exclusive all-out sprint reserved for a handful of fast folks with spiked shoes. Whether you’re trying to break five minutes or 12 minutes, this classic footrace allows all runners to test their personal limits.
On the next page of this 1-mile Blueprint we’ll show you how to get ready, break out of your comfort zone, hone your speed and refine your racing tactics.