Mile Racers

I am super excited at the number of people opting to try racing a mile for the first time at the 26×1 mile relay.  I’m only disappointed I won’t be there.  Some of my regular workout participants have asked me to put together some pointers for first time mile racers, which I’m more than happy to do.  Also next Thursday, we’ll focus our workout toward people racing the Mile, it will give you some indication of what the pace should feel like.


You’ve never raced a mile what should you pace yourself at?

The best way is to pick your most recent race time and plug it into a calculator, the shorter the race the better.   If you don’t have a recent race or they are all long, estimate what you would run a 5k in if it took place today.

I like this calculator.

Lets take Kristen Murphy as an example

She has 3 recent races to choose from

05/26 Bostons Run To Remember 5m 5.0  35:56 7:11
05/19 Harpoon Brewery 5m 5.0  33:18 6:39
05/05 Twin Lights Half Marathon 13.1  1:41:34 7:45

Two 5 milers and a half marathon.  We’ll use the faster of the 5 milers.  Since they are only a week apart I suspect the second one was either very crowded, hot or just a bad race.

The calculator returns a 5:47 mile, since I know that 5 miler is a PR for Kristen, I suspect this is a pretty close approximation.  Though since the mile takes place under pretty ideal conditions, perfectly flat etc it wouldn’t surprise me if she exceeded the estimate of the calculator.

If we divide that by 4, that gives us a per lap average of 86-87.  Memorize your intended splits.  Get someone to yell them to you as you pass the finish, you don’t want to have to look at your watch.

Lap 1 86 (1:26)

Lap 2 2:52

Lap 3 4:18

Lap 4 5:44


Pre Race:

It is extra extra important that you are fully warmed up before the race.  Please see my prior post about pre race routines.  Run at least 15-20 minutes very slow, and do some (4-6)  fast strides on the track or grass.

Racing a Mile:

The best way to run a fast mile is to run all 4 laps at the same pace.  This is easier said than done.

Don’t go out too fast!  Let me say it again…Don’t go out too fast!  It is much easier to recover from a too slow first 400, than from a too fast one.  I’m going to re post my instructions for those who did a mile time trial a few weeks back, if you’ve already read it then skip this bit.

Lap 1: Control your pace, don’t go out too fast.  Know what split you want to run take 1/2 of that and check it at the 200 meter mark, ideally a friend can yell it out to you at 200.  If your off, there is still time to recover.  Don’t over adjust, slightly more or less effort will be enough.  Kristen is going to target 86 for her first lap, the 200 should pass in 43, if she’s at 45, just ratchet up the effort slightly, if at 41 back off just a touch.

Lap 2: The effort that had you breeze through lap 1, is going to need some extra effort here.  You should need to push some to maintain your pace.

Lap 3: This is where you will need to use all your reserves, this is the hardest lap in the mile.  Extra focus, extra effort.  At the same time keep your form together, even when you’re fatigued.  Think focused and relaxed, and push like hell.  Don’t save anything.

Lap 4: This will be a blur, you will be so tired you don’t believe you’re going to make, but it is only 400m to go.  If you’ve got anything left start winding up a kick with 200 to go, with 150 to go unleash it.  You don’t need oxygen anymore, you can go into debt.  Use the form we’ve been working on during strides.  Swing those arms as far as they will go, they will carry you down the final stretch, don’t let your head get wobbly.  If you time it perfectly, you’ll nearly pass out as you cross the finish line.

Congratulations you’re a miler.

It can take many attempts to do this race correctly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake or two on your first attempt.

Next Thursday, we’ll do some mile paced training for those who are interested.

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