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Why you should run a mile time trial

Why you should consider an off-distance time trial for your next running goal

With temperatures heating up and runners looking for a challenge, many have turned to the time trial. Lots of runners are deciding to run 5K, 10K or even marathon time trials, but what if they tried to run a mile as fast as possible instead? If you had a spring or summer race on the calendar that has since been cancelled, motivation can run low (even with the nice weather), but the sheer terror of doing poorly on race day can really kick you out of bed in the morning. If you find yourself wishing you had something on the calendar, consider scheduling a mile-long time trial.

Photos from a track session on old blue at Point Grey in Vancouver, BC Canada.

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Run an off-distance event

For most runners, a mile is an off-distance event (meaning an event you don’t normally run) which is ideal when goal races are a while away. With other distances (ones you run more often), you’ll have preconceived notions about pace and finishing time, but with a mile, almost anything will be a personal best. Marathoners especially might enjoy the change of pace (literally and metaphorically) associated with getting ready for a mile.

Elite marathoners are doing it

On Wednesday, Stephanie Bruce ran a mile time trial with the goal of breaking her college personal best of 4:52. The 2:27 marathoner was successful—really successful, actually. She started out in classic marathon fashion (with a slower first 400m) but seriously picked it up through 1K. She finished in 4:35.1, a solid time for a track runner, and a killer time for a marathoner.


While this isn’t what she had initially planned for her spring season, Bruce is making the most of her fitness and pushing herself (significantly) out of her comfort zone.

Speed River Inferno
Photo: Canadian Running

Manage expectations

Time trials are supposed to be a way for runners to get excited about races to come, not discourage them. If you’re planning a time trial, make sure you remember that this isn’t a replica of a race, this is a fun effort. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not hitting goal paces in your neighbourhood TT. But if you do, there’s probably more in the tank.

If a mile time trial sounds fun to you, we’re about to sweeten the deal. Stay tuned to Canadian Running’s social media pages this Monday for an announcement about a mile challenge (with a pretty sweet prize purse).