Make the ‘Timed Mile’  the measure on your road to fitness

By Frank Greally

by Gazette Reporter
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Whether you are a Fitness Walker or a Runner, I suggest that this is the year when you can make the ‘Timed Mile’ a barometer of your fitness progress. 

Even if there is no running track close to where you live, it is relatively easy to step out 1,760 yards on a road, in a park or around a playing pitch- even easier if you have a reliable sports watch.

You can  walk or run a best effort over the mile every few weeks to help you gauge how your training is progressing . Running or walking the mile at a good strong effort will also help you to get a good sense of pace that will stand to you when you enter running events- anything from the Saturday 5k parkrun to -5miles, 10k, half-marathon or the marathon.

The interesting thing is that when you find your mile time improving you will also find your times getting better over longer distances.

The Mile provides a base from which to build a new structure of performances over a variety of distances. Making the ‘Timed Mile’ part of your overall training objective will also bring a freshness to your approach, more variety to your training and an added boost to your running tempo.

I suggest that you make running a Timed Mile one of your goals for the end of this month of January. Maybe get a few fitness walking or running friends together on a Saturday or Sunday and walk or run a few timed miles at a pace that reflects your current level of fitness.

You can have some fun by timing each other’s one mile efforts. Then, at the end of February, you can again deliver your best mile effort and see how much you have improved- even a few seconds of improvement can be a big confidence booster.

The Mile can also teach you a lot about pace- especially if you are walking or running it on an athletic track- four laps to the mile. It’s a good test for pace and concentration and if you add a few one mile efforts to your weekly training, you will soon find that you are learning how to best pace your effort- ideally even pacing over the distance with enough energy in reserve to pick it up a little for the final one hundred meters.

Ffor first time runners the first few times a Timed Mile is attempted- the average pace may be too fast or too slow. The key is to spread out the effort as even- paced over four laps.

The problem with giving this kind of advice to the average runner is that  they are often hooked into a pattern of training or racing and they feel that this suggested challenge will upset their routine. However, that is precisely what it is intended to do.

The ‘Timed Mile’ Challenge is about runners rediscovering the freshness of running and improving their sense of good pacing. It’s about coming at it from a new angle and establishing a new yardstick of fitness measurement.

The exciting thing about the ‘Timed Mile’ is that it can be talked about with the same awe and respect as the marathon. It offers simple targets and personal barriers to tackle, whether it’s a 12-  15 minute mile or a 5-minute mile.

The ‘Timed Mile’ Run is there to be sampled by all of us who run. It’s also a good measurement  for the committed and purposeful fitness walker to measure improvement on a monthly basis.

Running a ‘Timed Mile’ – best effort – once a month can deliver lots of returns. It can be a new challenge for 2024. The challenge should be to run your best possible mile by the end of the summer- a good mile- the fastest mile that you can run.

The Magic of  The Mile is there to be grasped. Once you decide you want to do it and exert yourself with a bit of fast training, you will quickly see the rewards that include –  a better sense of running pace, improved concentration and increased vitality. You will also have good fun comparing your best mile time with other runners.

 MIle Training Basics

One weekly training session of 4 x 400m at close to your current average mile pace can be recommended- building on an extra 400m per week until you are able to run 8 X 400m with a lap jog or fast walk to recover from each effort.

Good Warm-Up and Stretching exercises are recommended when you are attempting to run faster. So get warm and loose before you tackle a strenuous pace.

Keep the pace steady – Steady does not mean too easy or too slow. It means setting a pace that will see you through the workout and leave you nicely tired at the end of the session.

Above all, don’t go charging into new or different training with too much vigour and no real plan. Nothing can be gained by too energetic a start.  The motto should be t0- Hasten Slowly. A Little- A Lot – Rather than- A Lot- A Little.

The ‘Timed Mile’ Challenge can be a new, exciting and invigorating aspect of your running program. Take on the challenge enthusiastically but think it through and decide what realistic Timed Mile Target you can hope to achieve by the end of the Summer- a little gain at the end of each month.

With mixed weather conditions likely over the next few months, it’s hugely important to stay well wrapped up when training and to also be sure to Warm Up and Cool Down well- at least 10 minutes before and after training. It’s also important to shower quickly after a training session and get back into warm clothes and a comfortable environment.

For Fitness Walkers

The ‘Timed Mile’ can alo be a nice challenge for fitness walkers who want to monitor their fitness progress.

A ‘Timed Mile’ once a month can add a new pep to fitness of a purposeful walker’s step.

It’s all about monitoring progress and keeping a training diary can also be helpful in this regard- a page a day where you log your training effort, weather conditions and other details. It’s lovely to be able to look back in a few months and see how you have progressed. 

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