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The Mile


If you have not read my section on the 800, I recommend reading that first.  Many of the principles that I discussed there are referenced here.  I preach to my athletes to not overthink things and keep everything as simple as possible.  Breakdown everything into simpler steps.  In the 800, I broke it down to 3 segments (the first 300, the middle 200 and the final 300) in which the goal was to get to the final 300, and then make your move.  So in the 1-mile….get through the first half-mile and then apply the 800-meter strategy.  Don’t run for time, run for place.  Eventually the times will come.  So in the beginning of a 1-mile race, do the same as you would at the beginning of any track race (of 800 meters or longer) – get into lane 1, stay relaxed and just go with the flow.  Get through the first half-mile and then wake yourself up mentally.  Think to yourself. 


I always had trouble with the 3rd quarter of a mile race.  I would fall asleep and fall off pace.  I would usually rebound on the final lap, but that 3rd lap would have taken me too far off pace for it to have made a difference.  It’s easy to fall asleep when you are trying to focus for a long amount of time.  So don’t focus for a long amount of time – Keep It Simple!  Stay relaxed, let someone else dictate the pace for the opening half-mile.  Instead, focus on form and your breathing.  Stay in control.  When you get to the halfway point, turn the race into an 800.  Start moving up and getting yourself closer to the leader.  Do this by coming off the turn and passing by people and closing gaps.  Don’t pass people as you are going around a turn (unless it’s the final turn).  Get back into lane 1 before you enter the next turn.  You only want to take the lead 1 time during a race…when you are ready to finish. 


As I mentioned in my 800-meter section…the last 300 meter portion of the race is the time to start going for it.  That doesn’t mean to take the lead with 300 meters to go…I learned that lesson at the Staten Island Indoor Track Championships during my senior year of high school.  I took the lead and started kicking with 300 meters remaining and started to hit a wall on the last 50-meter straightaway in the Armory in New York City.  I ended up having a front row view of rival, Greg Mason, passing me at the line.  Instead of taking the lead with 300-meters to go, I should have waited a little longer.  I mentioned in my 800-meter section that the longest a human body has been able to maintain top speed before showing signs of decelerating is 290 meters.  It’s not a coincidence that I tried to kick for 300-meters and was not able to hold off my competitor for the last 10-30 meters. 


My suggestion is to start picking up the pace during the last 300-500 meters of a mile, but don’t “pull the trigger” until that final 200-meters.  Make it your goal to time it that by the time you have 200 meters remaining – the final lap on an indoor track/last half lap on an outdoor track – you are at top speed.  As should be the case in any race, the last 200 should be all out.  So be moving at top speed during the final 200.   The last 100 meters is too late to start kicking (because competitors will usually have a little bit left in the tank to get up and hold you off to the line) and 300 meters is too soon to start kicking (because no one in history has been able to maintain top speed for more than 290-meters yet).  That’s why I say 200-meters is the ideal amount of time to kick it in



First 800 meters - Stay relaxed and comfortable while staying relatively close to the pace setters. 


Next 500 meters – Start closing gaps and closing in on the leader (if necessary – sometimes you are already close enough that you can just maintain where you currently are at this point)


Final 300 meters – Start advancing towards the person in 1st and pass him going into the final 200-meters.  When you hit that 200-meter mark, you are moving all-out.  Blowing by your competition and not looking back. 

Below are sample workouts that I recommend to experienced runners that are training for the mile.  You will notice that these workouts are just about identical to the 800-meter workouts.  That’s because to be a good miler, you need to be a good half-miler.  The workouts don’t change.  If you are a half-miler that is transitioning into a 1-miler, the only thing you need to change is the amount of mileage that you run per week.  Increase your aerobic threshold by running longer on recovery days (i.e. run 6-8 miles instead of 3-5 miles). 


   Sample Workouts

1)            1 set of 600-400-300-200-500 @ 800-meter goal race pace (take about 3-minutes recovery in between or a 400-meter jog)


2)            8 – 10 x 200 @ 800-meter goal race pace.  Recovery jog in between should be 200-meters.


3)            4 x 500-meters (jog a 400 after each) Goal pace = 800-meter goal race pace


4)            2 sets of 4 x 300 (walk 100-meters after each 300 during the set/Jog a 400 (or a little more if needed) after the 1st set.  Goal pace should be right at 800 meter goal pace.


5)            1 x 600 @ 800-meter race pace (Take about 8-15 minutes of recovery – If you are opting for 15:00 of recovery, you should be jogging for 10 of those minutes!)  Next do 8 x 200 @ 800-race pace with about 200-meter jog recovery in-between.  Go for about a mile jog or 10-12 minutes and then run 1 x 400 @ 800-meter race pace yet again.


6)            3-4 x 1200 @ 1-mile race pace (Take an 800-meter recovery jog after each)


7)            6 x 800 @1-mile race pace (Take 3-minutes recovery time before the next)



8)            2 sets of 5 x 400 – Start at 1-mile race pace and gradually lower to 800-meter race pace (each one gets gradually quicker).  Take 2 – 3 minutes of recovery after each.  After the first set of 5, take a little longer – about 5-6 minutes before you begin the next set.


9)            1 set of 1200-800-400-1200 – The recovery should be jogging the distance of the next interval (Run the 1200 –jog  800 – run 800 –jog 400 – run 400 – jog 1200 – run 1200)

Goal pace should be your 1-mile race pace for the 1200s and 800, but the 400 should be 800-meter race pace.



10)          *For those that run higher mileage and are looking for an advanced version of that last workout:

1 set of: 2000-meters, 1600-meters, 1200-meters, 800-meters, 1200-meters.  Same goal race pace and same rule to recovery – jog the next interval as your recovery (run 2000, jog 1600, run 1600, etc)


Every workout should begin with 1-2 miles (or 10-15 minutes) of a warm-up.  Depending on your fitness base, this could be easy jogging, or at a tempo pace for more experienced runners.  I’ve had my team jog 10-minutes and throw in a 1:00 surge in the middle of that 10-minutes.  I’ve also had them go for a 15-minute warm-up jog and throw in 30-second surges at the 5:00 mark and at the 10:00 mark.  All of these have led to fast times so it’s a matter of figuring out what your fitness level is and also what your goal is before deciding which warm-up style will be ideal for you. 

At the conclusion of every workout (within a few minutes, not an hour later) you should do a light jog of about 1-mile (or 8-10 minutes or so) so to help get out the lactic acid that you built up during the workout.  Immediately following your cool-down jog, you should stretch out.  I even recommend stretching out for an additional 20-minutes about 2-hours after your workout as well.  I cannot stress enough the importance of stretching AFTER you run.  So many runners neglect stretching afterwards.  Stretching after runs will greatly reduce the chances of you getting injured.

Below is a suggested sample training week:

  • Monday – Workout: 2 sets of -5 x 400-meters (2-3:00 during the set/5:00 after the set)

  • Tuesday – Easy 1-hour of running

  • Wednesday – Workout: 4 x 500-meters (jog 400 after each) OR 4-6 x 150-300 meter speed work (3-5 minutes after each) 

  • Thursday – Easy 45-minutes of running

  • Friday – Easy 30-minutes of running

  • Saturday – Workout: 1200-(800 recovery) 800 (400 recovery)-400- (1200 recovery) 1200

  • Sunday – Active Recovery (can be a light 20-30 minute jog, a bike ride, a swim, any kind of cardio really) or a day off if needed.


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns!

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