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Why distance runners should try training for the mile

Changing gears and training for a shorter distance can reinvigorate your training and boost your fitness

Many runners tend to bump up to longer distances (like half-marathons and marathons) and then never look back, but if you’re in a rut, going shorter — a lot shorter — may be just what you need. In a training slump? Here are a few reasons why training for the mile could be the solution.

You’ll improve your form

Proper speed training will teach you how to run with good form. Many people assume that high-intensity, fast running is what causes injuries, but more often than not, injuries occur when your form starts to fall apart in the latter stages of a long run or race, or from overuse after weeks of very high mileage.

When training for the mile, it’s very helpful to enlist the help of a coach, who can give you guidance on proper running technique (and how to effectively practice it) so you can get the most out of this type of training.

You’ll get stronger

Speedwork is one of the best ways runners can build sport-specific strength. Mile training challenges your aerobic system, it also puts more stress on your mechanical system, since you’re running at a much faster pace than you would in a 5K or longer. This allows you to build the strength you need to maintain good running form over longer distances.

You’ll improve your lactate threshold

To run well in the mile, you need to have a very high lactate threshold, which allows you to run at faster speeds for much longer. Mile training programs are designed specifically to do this, which is also very beneficial for longer distances, since it will allow you to run faster in the 5K, 10K or even the marathon without hitting your breaking point.

It’ll bust you out of a rut

Training for the same distance over and over again can start to get stale, which can often lead to a plateau in performance. If this is the case for you, changing things up and training for something completely different than what you’re used to may be exactly what you need to reinvigorate your training and get you excited to lace up your shoes again. At the very least, doing some tough mile workouts will allow you to appreciate those marathon-pace workouts when you bump back up in distance again.

If you’re thinking of giving the mile a try, we highly recommend hiring a coach, or at the very least, following an online training program to make sure you do it properly. This will ensure your training is effective and that you stay healthy so that when you do decide to try a longer distance again, you’ll be ready for it.