Better Than a Marathon: The 1 Mile Challenge

RunningIf you wanted schoolyard acclaim at my middle school, you didn’t bother with how much you could bench, how many pullups you could do, or how far you could throw a football. And you certainly didn’t bother with running a marathon. The true path to lasting seventh grade athletic immortality ran a mile in length. If you could break six minutes, you were fast. Break five and a half? You were elite. Once a week during PE, we’d line up on the track to test our mettle. Coach’d say go, click his stopwatch, and we were off chasing glory. You’d run and you’d run until you got to that final leg where you’d kick without even knowing it and propel your body past your rival to beat him and your own time. The mile was special.

It proved useful in high school, too. My first year there, I was smart enough to place out of a few classes and ended up in an all-senior PE class, where I got towel-whipped and tit-twisted to the point of bleeding. But once spring track season rolled around, I became the top point man on the varsity squad by routinely trouncing the opposition in the mile and 2-mile runs, and sometimes the pole vault. This gave me cred. The locker room hazing stopped. I’d found my calling – running.

Of course, I ditched the mile run to chase glory in the marathon and later the triathlon. I sometimes wish I’d never graduated past the mile, but then I might not be here writing to you. What happened to me and my body throughout years of chronic cardio was probably necessary to make me who I am today.

Since going Primal and giving up the vast majority of my endurance training, I’ve found value in revisiting my old chum, the mile run. You guys should do the same.

Here’s why I think the mile run is the ideal distance for most people to run who aren’t training for any specific longer distance event:

It’s short enough that you can really push yourself. If you want to push yourself hard in a marathon, you need to train for it. You need to devote your life to it. If you want to push yourself hard in a single mile run, you just need to do it. The mile is very democratic.

It isn’t long enough to impede your other training. A mile fits nicely in with any kind of training program. If you’re a CrossFitter, integrate the mile run into one of your metcons. If you’re lifting with barbells, run a mile once a week to keep your conditioning up; it won’t degrade your gains like a 10k might.

It isn’t Chronic Cardio. A mile run is self-limiting. You can’t do much damage in a mile. The danger grows when you start stacking up mile after mile after mile, but the occasional or regular single mile run won’t put you in danger of lapsing into chronic exercise patterns.

It’s a good way to measure overall cardiovascular fitness and risk for cardiovascular disease. A 2011 study in middle aged men found that a single mile run test was a fair predictor of future CHD mortality. Men in their 50s who could run a mile in 8 minutes had optimal cardiovascular health and a 10% lifetime risk of heart disease; 10 minute milers had a 30% risk. Get better at running a mile and you’ll probably improve your heart health.

If you run them easily (10-minute mile pace), you can do them almost every day and obtain huge benefits. Research shows that 5-6 miles a week of easy running is associated with drastically lower risks of heart disease.

A mile is about as long as you’ll have to run in a real life situation. We’re no longer persistence hunting (which, remember, involved a ton of walking and resting anyway) for our food. We’re jogging through city streets to escape the rain. We’re running back to our apartment because we forgot something. And in my experience, these spontaneous bouts of running never go longer than a mile. If you can easily and somewhat quickly run a mile, you’re covered.

Your kids can join in. If you have kids, they’re precluded from many workout routines. You don’t want your toddler trying to life a barbell (yet). You’d rather your slobbery tyke not try to swing a kettlebell. But a mile is doable, albeit slower than if you were alone. Heck, if you let most kids have their run of the land, they’ll cover a mile on their own just going in circles.

Bottom line: the mile run is a simple way to test your fitness levels that requires very little time or training.

Okay. You’re sold. But how do you get started?

The simplest way to improve your mile time is to run the mile once or twice a week on top of your regularly scheduled training. Then, every six weeks or so, try an all-out mile where you attempt to beat your previous time. It’s easy like that. You don’t have to map out your month in advance like marathoners do. You don’t need to worry too much about specific macronutrient ratios. You just run the thing. But, if you want to get a little more specific, these workouts can help:

6 x 3 min work efforts at 15k race pace with 30 second rest intervals: The 3 minute work efforts are much slower than mile race pace. Envision the pace you could hold if you went all out for around an hour.

40 s effort/20 s recovery at 5k race pace repeating for 10 minutes: Running 40 seconds at 5k race pace isn’t that hard and by the time you start feeling it the 40 seconds is up and you get to jog for 20. By the 8 or 9 minute mark, you’ll feel some difficulty holding your 5k race pace, which is why the workout only lasts 10 minutes.

HIIT miles: Instead of running the entire time, try staggering the running with walking. Run really fast for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds. Repeat until the mile is done. Use any permutation of run/walk you prefer. 15/45, 10/20, it all works. Have fun with it.

400/800 m repeats: Run intervals once a week, alternating between 400 and 800 meter repeats from session to session. Take 2-3 minutes rest in between, and try to keep moving (walk or jog). On a scale of 1-20 with 20 being the most intense, keep the intensity at about a 14-16. Start with as many rounds as you can comfortably complete, even if that’s just one or two. When you find you can “sprint” each repeat, add another round next time.

Hills: Find a nice steep incline that stretches for a while. Walk most of it at a really brisk pace, then sprint the last leg. Do this on a regular basis and try to progressively increase the distance of the final sprint.

All forms of sprints have a place, but specificity counts for more. To run well you still have to, well, run. Just not as much as we used to think, and even less so when it comes to the mile.

Consider this a formal challenge: I want you to run a mile. Record your time, and then go out and improve on it.

Are you currently running a mile regularly? If so, what’s your time? Let’s hear all about it!

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

94 thoughts on “Better Than a Marathon: The 1 Mile Challenge”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I’d love to see what I could race a mile in! Something I’ve never done that I’ll have to try.

    1. It’s pretty easy to do, if you don’t have a GPS doohickey just establish a route approximately one mile long using your car’s odometer, and then you run it.

      1. Even easier, use google maps walking directions to stretch out a route until it reaches 1 mile.

        1. Chris – awesome tip! Just used Google maps and found a perfect run. Thx

    2. Even easier than Google is You can click on a route and it tells you how far it is as you go.

  2. Hey, this is great! I’m an almost-60 former half-marathoner who now mostly walks, climbs stairs as fast as I can, works with weights a little, and tries to do yoga and more challenging weight training when I can. I started sprinting during the summer but now that I’m trying to get me and my students through an unusually difficult and heavy workload this semester, I’m struggling to keep anything going past the minimum, and it can’t be complicated. I understand this. I have a track to run on. And I don’t have to write anything down or remember any routines or feel stupid because I don’t know how. OK. Thanks Mark, you’re a pal and a great teacher.

  3. i once ran a 5:40 mile in high school. but that was only because i had to make up a run that i missed and the other person running was on the track team. i didn’t want to look bad, so i just kept pace with him.

      1. Why?

        I ran a 5:15 mile …. Met a guy who was a competitive runner was saying that’s easy aiming 4:45 or bellow is the challenge …

        5:15 or 5:40 is not too hard depending on genetics and type of activity (I was in 9th grade when I was timed) don’t run these days.

        1. Oh and I was running with the schools varsity top runner, I have a competitive side and would not let myself fall behind him LOL

          Power of competition even in practice (we had an epic sprint competition in practice as well and he kept just edging me out by half a step)

        2. I agree. When I was 17 I ran a 5:17 mile and even did a 5:35 in boots for the Civil Air Patrol record (for that division).

        1. Aw. Sometimes humans take out their own inadequacies and/or self-doubt on others. Forgive and forget. 😉

      2. Not doubtful at all. I’m 42, just started running again about 2 weeks ago after a 1 year hiatus. Last year, I ran for 3 months, lost 50 lbs from 235 to 185. Life got busy, stopped running (single dad). Got back up to 215 lbs. So 2 weeks ago I could barely run. Bad plantar fascitis in both feet & left knee surgery in 2001 that made things worse than before surgery. Anyway, I’m now 209 lbs, 2 weeks back into running, high blood pressure ,5’8″, and I almost broke into the 7 minute mark. I’m in the 8s, and I didn’t really push myself because I planned on running 2 miles, but decided not to. In HS, I could do 5 miles in 30 minutes, so it’s not hard to believe that someone could sprint 1 mile in 5 minutes, and I’m short and overweight with health issues.

    1. I am currently in high school, and ever since i was 9 i have played softball which is short fast running. I have to run a mile a week and my shortest time is just over 4 minutes. It just takes practice, and once you beet your high score, you continue to push harder.

  4. Great article, sensible advice and a good challenge.

    Another good thing about the mile is that someone well conditioned from grok style training or crossfit can get pretty close to a long distance runner.

    I find generally to accept challenges is a great way to force a change of pace.

  5. NICE!!!

    I forwarded to friends and family.
    Spot on and “workable” in most people’s very busy life.

    Thank you Mark.

  6. I pretty much quit running about 2 years ago. I used to enjoy it and then it ended up feeling like a chore, so I stopped. I like the idea of just running a mile and doing it HIIT style is even more appealing. Despite my lack of running, I’ve been doing CrossFit and I’m very interested to see how that has impacted my mile time. I think I’ll take 10 minutes this weekend and see what I can do!

    1. Here’s a good example of what you guys are talking about.

      I have NEVER been a runner. Seriously couldn’t run unless something big and ugly was chasing me. I started doing CrossFit at 38 yrs old. A 10K came up that was a good opportunity to see the “Little Grand Canyon” in Ga. So I went for the view. Figured I would just walk/jog when I gave out and enjoy myself. I started out running and never stopped. Came out of the canyon across the finish line thinking I had made a wrong turn. True story. Now I don’t advocate 10Ks (or +)… maybe 5K at the most. But it was interesting that HIIT training made it possible for me to do that having never done it nor trained for it. Especially at almost 40 yrs old.

  7. I totally remember running the mile in middle school & high school! I wonder if they still do that!

    This is a rough time of year to incorporate running for me (it’s dark before I leave for work & when I get home), but I may have to figure out a way to get some in.

    1. Yes, Sara middle schoolers still do that. My 7th grader ran a mile yesterday.

  8. How do you know your 5k race time if you don’t run more than a mile? Let alone 15k!

  9. Being a former collegiate half miler, this makes me happy. I never was into 10+ miles, and didn’t really like anything more than a 5k… most of my fellow middle distance and distance runners thought I was crazy. Now I have a better idea of why… I feel vindicated 🙂

  10. It’s a shame the people who did the study didn’t think of looking at women as well. Do women have to be able to do 8 min miles to get the benefit?

    1. According to Mark’s post, the 8 min mile for men is an indication of “optimal” cardio health and not the time you have to run it in to get a benefit. You can certainly get a benefit even from walking a mile…especially if you do it regularly! So don’t get discouraged!

  11. What a timely post! I was thinking about doing an occasional 1 mile run in the morning, a few times a week, to push my limits and try to improve. I usually throw on the vibrams and run ~3 miles in the hills on Sunday morning just to help improve my cardio levels, but I’m never pushing the time, just enjoying the environment. I also did track in high school and once ran a 1500 m in 4:57, but that was in competition and it was brutal. 🙂

  12. Hmmm, running at all has been a long time for me as I walk and hike alot. One mile training can definitely push me into new health gains. Thanks Sisson!

  13. As a veteran of 35 plus (lost count) marathons starting at age 11, I never considered shorter distances, even 5k, to be of any value. Back in the ’80s, while attempting to qualify for Boston (needed a sub 2:50), I ran five marathons in a year span. One day during that year, after a 6 mile training run, I decided to attempt a mile run on a cinder track in Salem, Oregon. I died on the last lap, but still managed a 4:45 mile. It was so painful that I decided I would rather run a full marathon than endure that extreme pain again. It was over twenty years later that I finally summoned the courage to try it again (it was the shortest event of an eight run series in Fairbanks, Alaska). My times are over a minute slower, (usually competing barefoot), and it is still very painful, but I love the fact that I feel stronger and recover so much faster than with LSD. Plus it helped me to discover that my fast twitch muscles are much more prominent than my slow twitch muscles. Now my workouts consist of mostly 100 & 200 meter sprints.

  14. I ran a mile last week in just over 11 minutes. I am turning forty next week and have had 3 kids, so I thought that was pretty good. My goal is 10 minutes. EEEK!!

  15. I remember doing miles in middd and high school. If I recall correctly, my gym teacher said, and I quote, “You are so slow I should be timing you with a calendar.” To this day I still find it hilarious and I am shocked that my Grok ancestral blood kin didn’t all get eaten by not being able to out run native big kitties in the savannah. Let’s face it, all of my immediate family are tall, lanky and SLOWWWWW.

    That said, challenge accepted. I should be able to outrun my previous best of ~10 minute miles. 🙂

  16. I have challenged myself on this very thing starting two months ago. I’ve discovered that running hills and trails strengthens me in ways that running on flat roads or tread mills doesn’t. I shaved 10 seconds off my mile time of 9:50 in one month without “special” training. I’m 50 years young and have been running for just 3 years…after years of inactivity… it can be done, ya’ll. Power to the Primal!

  17. Great concept if you have knees left. I have to do my sprints on an eliptical. Works.

    1. I have major knee issues too (see my post below), but changing my walking style & doing deep bodyweight squats every morning have helped a LOT. I’m beginning to hope I may escape the elliptical!! I so miss running in the real world…

  18. So excited to see this post today! I’ve been wanting to incorporate the mile lately in addition to my long power walks. The other benefit besides heart strengthening is that running trains fast twitch muscles in your legs that aren’t trained by endurance activities. It is also much easier to lose the middle weight 🙂 I remember the best health I had in my life I was running 1/2 per day and felt so happy and strong. I’ll be implementing this today! 🙂

  19. This is a great article. As a Soldier in the National Guard, I know that this 1-2 mile range keeps my platoon fit and battle ready. When used intermittently with shuttle sprints, it is more than enough cardio.

    1. mine too! high school track. I probably would have had a better time, too, if I hadn’t just ran a 800m only about 15 min before the start of the mile race :/

  20. At best around a 5:50. Back in my chronic cardio days it was a lot faster, but due to that I never had a desire to run hahaha.

  21. When I was a kid my favorite gym day was when somebody acted up & the whole class got “punished” by having to run a mile. (I was never good at competitive sports, but I loved to run.)

    I kept running regularly for fun & exercise, until my knees started screaming “STOP!”, so I was forced to give it up. I knew NOTHING about form all this time & had an over-long stride & brutal heel strike, didn’t stretch or do squats… oh if I knew then what I know now… ah well, at least I can still learn!

    In the past year I’ve retrained my walking stride to favor a forefoot-to-midfoot strike, & all my joints immediately began to feel better. I’ve run (gently, very short distances) a couple of times, & I’m starting to feel like I could try a mile pretty soon… & I’d so love to but I’m almost afraid to revisit that old addiction, as I rarely ran less than 6 miles back in the day, even when it was destroying my knees. Is this something I should embrace or avoid????

    1. I actually have your fears. I was SUCH a happy and committed runner–with chronic bronchitis for 30 years. Never got bronchitis and knock down any cold in its tracks since I stopped at the end of 2011 (pneumonia).

      Loved flying along. Love not having breathing trouble more. Wonder if I would have the discipline to limit it. Well, it is my day off and I’m going to do a 5.5 mile walk in the sun. Not in the cubicle today!

  22. At age 61 I was running 20:30 5Ks. Now at 65, not racing by choice, but running 7:45-7:50 splits on MWF 4 mile runs.

    Other days of the week on bike for 18 mile rides @18-19.5 mph.

    Been doing this for 30 years, but no longer able to quite match my earlier paces/distances.

  23. Mark, I think you slipped on this one…

    how are we supposed to know what 15K pace is if we are not supposed to run a 15k? I think you ended up using the terminology from when you were a marathoner…

    (btw I used to run 10Ks and I once ran a 15K –and it nearly destroyed me– so I know what you meant)

    That said, I might take on your suggestion to run more one miles since one of the greatest bummers from trying to become primal for me was having to face the fact that as much as I enjoyed running, it was not that great for me… I’ve almost stopped since, but this is an awesome excuse to take it up again (in a healty way).

  24. Not everyone can simply run a mile. I used to go to the track a few times a week and run a mile or so. I’d then spend lots of time at the doctors office trying to figure out why my back hurt. For some walking is a better choice.

  25. I gather a possible combination with my 4-minute Tabata sprints (8 times full throttle for 20 sec., with 10 sec. of rest in between). Having had them done on the stationary bike for a long time, I startet to do them by running a few weeks ago. But I kept doing them running in circles in the park and only payed attention to the time, not to the achieved distance. So I´d rather take a look how far I could get if I ran my Tabatas in a straight line (20 seconds of sprinting followed by 10 seconds of slowing down, walking, or even coming to a standstill – eight times). It won´t add up to a mile, of course, but there is no reason why I should not extend my 20/10-sec. Tabatas until I reach the mile. This, then, would be a combination of the mentioned workouts. Interesting, anyway.

  26. Now this works for me. I train largely for competitve bodybuilding, so long distance running just hinders my gains. But I used to run quite a bit in high school and was pretty competitive, and I must say I miss it. I have done the occasional “mile” run lately, that’s what, about 1.5 to 2km in metric? It’s a nice little distance, just too long to sprint, just short enough to go at a pace. In fact the 1500m used to be my main race in high school….

    And what you say about kids is spot on, my 6 year old daughter is quite a little athlete and starting to get involved in kids triathlons, and her training for the run section has been about that distance.

  27. I ran the mile in track in high school. My best time was 6:36. I only ever scored a single point for the team and that was because there were only 3 people in the race and I came in 3rd.

  28. In the words of Gimli, “We are very dangerous over short distances!” and yes I know that’s not a word for word quote, feel free to comment the exact one for a gold star on your geek card! haha I guess my geek card will get a silver star.

    1. Send me the geek card: “I’m wasted on cross-country! We dwarves are natural sprinters! Very dangerous over short distances!”
      But I don’t think it’s Tolkein–rather Jackson, from the film…

      BUT–Gimli ran with Aragorn and Legolas from Emyn Muil to Fangorn–135 miles in 4 days! I think I need two stars for my LOTR geekiness…

      1. You’re right. It’s not Tolkien. It was one of the lines given to Gimli in the film to make him a comic relief character.

        In fact, the opposite is true. Dwarves have amazing endurance, and can cover very long distances quickly whilst hauling heavy loads and are still able to fight at their destination (e.g. Dain’s people in the Battle of Five Armies). That’s not to say they aren’t good sprinters—they certainly run for their lives with the best of them—but cross country is something they are pretty darn good at.

        But we are not built the same way as dwarves, so taking fitness advice from them might not be a good idea.

  29. Thanks for this, Mark–another fresh look. On my normal 2 mile walk-to-work route today I ran the first 3/4 mile in 6:30, so about an 8:30 pace…not bad for a fasted 50-year-old, but now I have a challenge, to get that under 8. Well, and actually run the whole mile!

  30. I was always a basketball player but when I turned 52 decided to train for a year to run a mile as fast as I could. Result: 5:33 three days before I turned 53. Kept running training for a marathon and developed arthritis badly in my hip. 9 years later and I have gained 30 lbs and doubt I could run a 13 minute mile. But I’m thinking, I’m thinking that there’s a chance if I quit the grains and limit the inflammatory stuff, lose the weight, re-train my foot strike to mid foot, maybe, just maybe . . . I wonder how bad Mark Sisson’s arthritis was (hips? knees?) before he adopted this lifestyle?

  31. Your childhood memories of the mile are vastly different than mine. I HATED running, in every way, shape, and form. Physical and mental shut down every time I had to run sprints for volleyball or run in track (I was a thrower, why did I have to run an 800, or, gasp, a 1200!). But I was an athlete and loved all other aspects of sports so I guess I tolerated it.

    Anyway, I actually do enjoy running now, especially since I [slowly] switched to a barefoot running style a couple years ago. My knees don’t hurt when I run anymore, and I did my first spring tri this past spring. Had a blast and looking forward to doing it again. Until that training starts though, I think I’ll master my mile time. Thanks Mark!

    1. Stacie, I’m right there with you. One time in elementary school, during the mile run, I dramatically (and quite unnecessarily, I’m sure) collapsed before the run was over. I was slow, I was the last one still running, and I was more than ready to be done!

      Later in life, I enjoyed running more, generally in the 4-5 mile range, just slowly chugging along, maybe 8-minute miles. Before discovering Primal, I was flirting with training for a half and eventually a full marathon, but I was saved from that fate by Mark and the paleo crowd. I’m much happier to be lifting weights and running the occasional sprints, but this mile challenge sounds like it could be a good adjunct. And I promise to myself and to all of you that I will not dramatically collapse in the midst of Mark’s mile challenge (if I collapse, it will be a subtle and undramatic performance).

  32. After a solid year of training, I ran my 1st marathon Oct 4th. It was on my “bucket list.”

    Now I can focus once more on the shorter distances, HIIT, and strength training, and of course Primal eating !

    For planning running routes, this web site can be useful too:

  33. I’ve been doing Crossfit for just over two years and in recent months our group has been doing track workouts nearly every Sunday evening. Two weeks ago we all ran a mile for time. I really wasn’t sure what was a realistic expectation for my time, but I seem to recall running about 7:30 the last time I had tried this maybe a couple of years earlier. So we ran and I ended up surprising myself a bit by clocking in at 6:51. Not too bad, I suppose, for a 51-year old who hasn’t done any serious running training since my high school days. I do enjoy the sprinting and middle-distance runs more than slogging along seemingly forever on a 5K+ run.

  34. FYI – the world marathon record is just below 2h 3min, which is about 4:42 pace for 26.2 consecutive miles. Sure it was run by some highly talented and skinny african after years of “chronic cardio” training and 1 mile world record is “only” one minute faster – 3:43. Just take these facts into account before claiming that running 6, 7 or 9 minute mile means you’re fit. Grok could probably jog 9 minute miles all day long.

  35. Interesting, I still run a couple of sessions a week at 2-3 miles, but I have started to pay closest attention to my speed on the first mile. I’m typically between 9 and 10, and I’m in my 40s.

    Now I see that my target should be 8 minute miles or better, since I’m not 50 yet…

    Thanks for the post!

  36. I’m in. I have gained a lot of weight. I need to start being primal in all areas of my life. Today is 11/1/14. The journey begins. Hopefully in 6 months, I can post a transformation!

  37. I got all enthused and found a local running track. I occasionally sprint. I walk as often as I can. And I sometime run a short disatnace when my body feels the need, so I had no great expectations. I was pleased with 7min 50 as I am in my late 40s. Not sure about Mark’s comment that you can’t do too much damage…sore calf muscles now :-). I wonder why its only those muscles?

    1. If your calves are sore, that means you are running on your toes, instead of allowing your entire foot to touch, before bringing it up again.

  38. I’ve been having so much trouble with my gym routine (darn job), but this challenge is perfect for getting me back! I tried it yesterday and, wow, I am not in the shape I thought I was. I needed breaks and my calves are killing me, but I’m going back tomorrow to try again! This is also the perfect 10 minute warmup before I hit the weights. And since I’ll only be doing this twice a week (thrice, tops), I will keep from burning out.

  39. I like this a lot, for all the reasons Mark listed. Since I’ve been jogging this year, I’m not much of a runner but I can dash for the bus or something like that without being a sweaty, panting mess.

    I just ran a timed mile (outdoors with some wind) and clocked in at 12:36. Awful, but it’s a victory that I can run a mile at all! And time wise, there’s nowhere to go but up… well, down. 🙂

  40. Run a mile? I can’t even run a BLOCK! I have *never* been able to run a mile — not even when I was at my most fit/peak of my life, in my 20s. Never. It’s a breathlessness thing — I have the problem with any type of aerobic exercise.

    I don’t suppose you have any suggestions for someone like me, do you?

    1. Hi Wendy, I’m new to this, so I replied below instead of to you. You may want to see a Dr. And ask about Exercise Induced Asthma. I got diagnosed a couple of yrs ago and using an inhaler before I go running made a HUGE difference. Good luck!

  41. I’ve been running 1 1/2 miles @ 8.5 min or so mile then check heart rate- always 27 beats in 10 sec – then down to 24 after 1 min then 22 at 2 min – 27 is too high. My goal is to get that # down, but it’s been a yr and no chg. Anyway then i run another 1/2 mile. Then sprint 1 1/2 miles at 30/60 intervals. Feel great! Do this every weekend – was concerned that my heart rate goes too high but this article put me at ease that at for short distances, it’s okay! Course this wken’d I’ve run 4 days in a row, but will put 5 days between next run. Oh, btw, I’m 48 – 49 in Jan., so really 49.

  42. To Wendy, see a Dr. And ask about Excercise induced Athsma,I have it and using an inhaler made a significant difference. Good luck!

  43. Since following the paleo lifestyle for about a year, I have noticed a HUGE improvement with my cardiovascular system. Hiking, walking up hills are no problem for me, I’m not even out of breath. And now recently I have a STRONG desire to run, I actually look forward to it! I just turned 58. Any special recommendations for my age or should I just get out there and run?

  44. I have judt started going for a little run each morning. I tracked it and its exactly a mile. I do this combined with squats.

    I am yet to time my mile I am focusing on form. Will running every day hinder me anyway?

  45. In high school I ran a mile in 4:39. I think I need to get back to the track and see what this 50 year old body can do now. Probably lucky to beat 8:00.

  46. So far I jog about 1.2 mile in about 12 minutes – mixed with occasional short walks. it feels like its doing me some good so I’ll keep it up, but I may try more periods of running too and maybe even attempt a little sprint. See if i can improve my time…. 🙂

  47. I am on my 3rd week of running and my best time so far is 10:07. I started with 13:35. I was sedentary before starting and no previous running besides minimum I did in school.

  48. I have been running 5 days a week for a few months now sometimes more its become a bit of a addiction not sure how fast i have been going since here in TX the temp was staying over 100 degrees for a few weeks just now its started to cool back down to the low 90’s.

  49. Did my very first 1 mile run today. 7 1/2 minutes. Absolutely no prep or practice we just said lets do this. I am a 55 year old male and in decent shape. I would like to do these mile runs once per week, it’s pretty cool. Thank you Mark as always.

  50. “A mile is about as long as you’ll have to run in a real life situation”

    So true. My brother actually knows Usain Bolt, the two-time Olympic champion at 100 meters. They would go hiking up in the Rocky Mountains from time to time, to get the benefits of exercising at high elevation.

    One time they were hiking and saw a grizzly bear coming their way. Usain Bolt quickly removed his running shoes from his back pack and started taking off his hiking boots.

    My brother said “Usain, why are you putting on your running shoes? As fast as you are, you cannot outrun that bear.” Bolt told him, “I don’t have to outrun that bear – I just have to outrun you.”

  51. I saved this post back when I read it the first time – just came back to it again and am so glad it did. After years of being addicted to road racing / chronic cardio, my body has told me (in the form of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis) that it doesn’t want to run 60-80 miles a week and train for marathons anymore. But I love running, particularly running fast. So on we go with the mile challenge! Thanks Mark, love tuning into the blogs.

  52. wow great article. I don’t think I’ve in my life sustained even a jog for a full mile. sprints sure… But this is now my new goal, to be able to jog/run one mile. I took an initial stab at it on mostly level (at least one short section of uphill in my flattest course option) around my ranch and I made it .59 miles in 5:15 – about a 9 minute mile if I could have kept going. My first goal/milestone will be the full mile in 10 minutes.

  53. I PR’d today on the mile run at 7:33. This is really gratifying after years of being obese. Actually my weight is up about 10 pounds up from last fall but my time is faster. Yet another bit of evidence that weight alone is not a good indicator of my health. My weight being up is likely added muscle mass and inflammation from allergy season.

  54. I’m a 54 year old male, I work out regularly and fairly vigorously, but nobody’s definition of an “athlete.” I really don’t like running so over the years I’ve incorporated a once-a-week inclusion of a fast mile run into my usual regimen. I’m also looking to reduce the impact on my not-as-young-as-they-used-to-be joints. Anyhow, my recent personal best was 6:42 on an indoor track at LA Fitness. Usually it’s around 6:48-6:54. I’m not bragging (much), but I’m very pleased with my results. Hope I can keep it up.

  55. I have found a new love in jogging a mile on the treadmill at my gym. I do it in 10 minutes, and I’m loving keeping at it every morning along with a brief weight session, followed by hot Pilates or yoga. Just love it.

  56. It’s been almost two years since this was posted and I wanted to work it into my routine at the time. I did. I hated it. Turns out my conditioning was downright terrible.

    I’ve been running much slower miles kind of primal endurance style while watching my heart rate and ran a 5K barefoot at a part about a month ago. Once I was able to do that I wanted to try for speed again.

    6’51” today and I know improvements will probably come quickly. A six minute mile has been a goal since I read this and while I took a roundabout path, I’m gonna get there soon.

    The real point of this comment was to let you know that this entry really stuck with me. Thanks.

  57. My #1 fitness goal this year is to set my Personal Best in the mile. I’m now 50, and I set my PB, 6:08, when I was 26. I ran a 7:04 three weeks ago so I have my work cut out for me. Looks like I have a bunch of intervals and hills in my future.

  58. Today so my second day running, I found a course around my block and I’m doing 1.4 mi at a 9:48 pace. After reading this I’m very proud of myself. I will do my best to continue and get myself into that 10% low risk statistic for my 1 yo boy and my wife. I’m 28.

  59. I love the simplicity of this idea. I’m 71 and can run a mile in 11 minutes. This raises my heart rate to about 120 bpm. Should I be careful not to raise my heart rate to a point where I’m getting stressed and generating too much cortisol? Or should I just ‘go for it”?

  60. 400m is the max I will run, if you run it fast enough you get a massive GH lactic acid T boost as well.