Recording a sub 6-minute mile is no easy feat. My fastest mile time is 5:59s and believe me it’s tough going, it’s a serious test of speed, power, endurance, grit and determination for the recreational runner. Please be warned, you already need to be running 2-3 times a week and able to complete a 5km in around 22-24 minutes to put yourself in a good position to then focus your training on this distance. You may find it helpful training with a partner who is either at the same level as you, or just a little bit faster. Please ensure that you have a solid foundation of 6-8 weeks of running to build your ‘aerobic support’ before going at this.This blog is aimed at those that consistently run 2-3 times a week and have an interest in recording a sub-6-minute mile.
This blog is aimed at those that run regularly and have an interest in recording a sub-6-minute mile. Personally, I have hit a sub-6-minute mile at 5:59s on the button and be under no illusion – it is tough going. At that time, I was running a few times a week and able to complete a 5km in around 22 minutes, so I was in a good position to then focus my training on this distance. I was 38 at the time and training with one of my PT clients who was 18! There was a 20-year age gap and he was a fit teenager who played football to a high level. We were working on his strength and conditioning at my studio before he went off to the USA on a scholarship program. My point being, having him challenge me helped to push us both on with our times and we both recorded new PB’s. You too may find it helpful training with a partner who is either at the same level as you, or just a little bit faster. Please ensure that you have a solid foundation of 6-8 weeks of running to build your ‘aerobic support’ before going at this.
Hit a new running personal best
Now, running hard for a mile requires speed, stamina, and grit. And then there’s muscle: People often forget that you need strength and power to run that distance that fast. Ideally, you will already be strength training each week and doing some form of plyometrics as well. Running a 6-min mile shows that you have power and a strong aerobic base, which translate to better performance in any sport. However, factors like genetics, form, technique, overall aerobic endurance, flexibility, mobility, and strength will all impact how long it takes a person to be able to run a 6-minute mile. Your current levels of weekly mileage and running experience will determine how quickly you can get to your sub-6 goal. Some may need several weeks, whilst others will need many months of preparation. You will need to follow a structured running plan, so that you can gradually work on bringing your times down. Another key part of your preparation will be your mindset and a burning desire to run fast. Your head needs to be fully in the game and you need to be fired up for each running session that you do.
You will need to work out how far you are running in each session and how many times a week, so that you can track your weekly mileage. The aim of getting your training volume just right is that you will be able to maximise training benefits, whilst minimising your risk of injury. Running injuries are common and if you have a history of them or are trying to shake off various niggles, then you should err on the lower end with your weekly mileage. Some sources say you should be running 20-30 miles a week to get a fast mile, yet I was running 12-15 miles a week and managed to get my 5:59s time. You just need to find what works for you and your own body. Also, you can supplement your running mileage with low-impact cross-training exercises (cycling, swimming, rowing, elliptical trainer) as needed. Personally, I found this helpful to still give my cardio system a decent workout without getting injured by running too much. However, whilst this meant that I kept very fit aerobically, to run fast you do need to still do the running, 100%. There will be a little bit of cardio crossover but not a great deal – to run fast you need to put the miles into it. Devote your time and energy towards it and you will reap the benefits.
Remember, the key thing you are going to have to get used to is the intensity needed to run fast for 6-minutes straight. It’s near your maximum speed but obviously not your top speed, as you would be gassing within 100-200m. Look at Usain Bolt, he ran a WR of 9:58s in 2009 for the 100m and in a fantasy world, if he was able to maintain that speed over a mile – he would clock in at 2 minutes and 9.8 seconds! Physiologically impossible but it’s just to illustrate the point that you need to run hard and fast, just not at 100% of your sprinting ability. For those that are interested, the current world record for the fastest mile is a blistering 3 minutes, 43.13 seconds, set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999. Crazy stuff at elite level isn’t it.
I have detailed below some of the running workouts that I did with my PT client in order to record my fastest ever time over a mile. The training we did together was largely based on running set a distance several times, with a full recovery in between sets. But please be aware that you could incorporate a tempo run, or hill training session as well. Recording a fast mile will improve your leg speed and running economy, both of which will help towards a faster 5km run as well.
1-Mile Running Workouts
4 x 0.5 Mile Repeats
Aim is to run each half-mile as close to 3 minutes as possible. Complete 4 sets, with a 3-minute recovery between each interval. Be patient and keep building on your efforts. Only move onto the next workout once you have got it down to at least 3 minutes or just under.
4 x 0.75 Mile Repeats
Aim is to run each half-mile in just under or near to 4:30 minutes. Complete 4 sets, with a 3-4-minute recovery between each interval. Only push as hard as you can each session, you cannot rush the process. It will take time to get the performances you desire.
3 x 1 Mile Repeats
Aim for 2-3 max effort sets of 1-mile repeats, aiming to get as close to 6 minutes as possible. You must walk it out for 4-5 minutes as an active recovery before hitting the next set. You want to be aiming for 6:10-6:30.
10 x 400m Repeats
This workout was made popular by Roger Bannister because he only had 1 hour to train during lunch breaks while in medical school. His coach, Franz Stampl, had to find a way to train Bannister’s speed-endurance, aerobic power and stamina qualities in an efficient manner. His answer was 10 x 400m. This cornerstone workout is a simple and effective session which successfully helps the miler meet the complex demands of running 4 laps of the track at their upper limit. Run each interval hard, with a 2-minute recovery between each set.