Bagging a 7 minute mile is a great goal for the recreational runner. It is fast, but with determination and hard work, it can be an achievable and rewarding goal.
And a mile is a satisfying distance to race.
Four clean loops of a running track, legs going hard, breath working to catch up, and before you know it, it’s all over.
Improving your mile pace can have an amazing ripple effect on other areas of your running. Working on speed can improve your running form, improve your running cadence, and build strength in your legs.
And don’t forget, running a mile, however fast you manage to go, is still an aerobic event. If you can improve your top aerobic output in a mile, it will have a benefit on your endurance running in general, whether your favourite distance is a 5k, or a marathon… or beyond.
In this article we are going to delve into:
- How to know if you’re capable of running a 7 minute mile.
- How long it takes to train for a 7 minute mile.
- How many miles a week should a runner run to run a 7 minute mile.
- What workouts a runner should do to train for a 7 minute mile.
- What strength training routine should a runner do for mile-training.
- And how to smash it on the big day.
Ready to get into it?
7 minute mile pace
When in training or actually attempting your mile effort, here’s the 7 minute mile pace you want to see on your GPS watch. You should try to keep as close to this pace as possible, perhaps even going 1-2 seconds faster when you can:
7:00 minutes / mile
4:20 minutes / kilometer
1:45 minutes per lap around the running track
Who can run a 7 minute mile?
Running a 7 minute mile is a reasonable goal for a lot of runners. And chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you’re in the 7 minute mile ballpark. Maybe you’re close to 8 minute mile, maybe you can run a 7:30, or even 7:15. This would be a perfect range from which to begin training for that 7 minute mile goal.
And if you don’t currently know how fast you can run a mile, before you throw yourself into training for a 7 minute mile, it is important to evaluate your current level of fitness to see if it is a realistic goal for you.
And the best way to see how fast you can run a mile?
Run a test mile.
Related: What’s A Good Mile Time? Average Times To Run A Mile By Age + Gender
Running a test Mile
It’s simple, but not easy!
When you run a test mile, you’ll want to give your best effort for one mile.
It’s a good idea to pick a day when you are not tired or sore from a recent run or other activity.
Find a flat location where you can run one mile without interruption. Most ideal is a track.
Warm-up with around ten minutes of easy jogging, followed by a few strides (short accelerations).
Related: How to Run Strides
Once you are all warmed up, run your test mile. Run the mile as evenly as possible, but push yourself hard enough so that you end your mile feeling as if you could not run much farther at that pace.
Now you know your current mile time!
If you ran your mile in 8 minutes or less, then a 7 minute mile is a reasonable goal for you!
If you were a bit slower, then consider setting a goal one or two minutes faster than your current time it is always. And of course, if you surprised yourself and already hit the 7 minute mark, consider aiming for a 6 minute mile!
how many miles a week should you be running to run a 7 minute mile?
This really depends on where you’re starting from. If you are not currently running, you’ll need to spend a few weeks running at a low-intensity pace to build up your weekly mileage to at least 15-20 miles a week before beginning any kind of regular speedwork session.
how long does it take to train for a 7 minute mile?
This will also vary from runner to runner.
If you’re already an avid runner, then your training plan will likely be about 8 weeks long.
This is what Lanni Marchant, an elite marathoner and coach at Tagalong with a Pro, recommends; “Your training period will depend on how much running you’ve done before. On average, I would recommend 8 weeks at a minimum. That’s a good training block for any kind of a distance.”
What Workouts Should A Runner Do To Train To Run A 7 Minute Mile?
When training for a fast mile, A runner should do the bulk of their runs at an easy pace with about two higher intensity sessions per week.
This could look like 3 or 4 easy run days and two days of speedwork training.
For a well rounded training plan, it is always a good idea for runners to include strength training along with some mobility sessions.
A balance of strength sessions and mobility sessions will reduce your risk of injury whilst you train. And additionally, working on your strength will give you more muscular power to be able to tackle that mile distance and bag that time.
Speed session examples
Incorporating speedwork into your training routine is key for taking on the one mile distance. Speed sessions help you to get comfortable at those faster speeds, build your endurance when it comes to maintaining them, and improve your stride turnover.
Here are just a few speed session examples that you can include in your 7 minute mile training program:
- Warm up and then do either 200-meter repeats or 400m repeats at a pace faster than a 7 minute mile pace, closer to a 6-6:30 mile pace.
- Warm up and then do a fartlek training session with 80 or 90 second intervals and a 60 second jog in between each interval.
- Warm up and then do 12 x 1 minute hard/1 minute easy. Begin at 20-minute race pace for the first four intervals, then work down to 10-12 minute race pace for the middle four, and then finish the final four at your mile race pace. Cool down with a 10-20 minute easy jog.
- Warm up and then run a threshold workout. For example, a steady state run where you warm up for 1-2 miles, run 2 miles holding a 7:00-7:30 minute mile threshold, and then run 1 cool down mile.
- Warm up and run 3 or 4 800 meter efforts at a 7:00-7:30 minute pace with 2-3 minute jogging rest in between each hard interval.
Perform any of these either on a track, or on any flat road or trail where you can run fast and uninterrupted.
You should ideally be including two of the above speed sessions every week. This may sound like a lot, but the great thing about speedwork training sessions is that they really pack a punch in a short amount of time. They are an efficient way of getting in a serious session even if you’re short on time.
Should you incorporate strength training into your one mile distance training plan? The answer: yes!
In fact, strength training should always feature in your running training plan, regardless of your goal distance.
Strength training will keep you strong, and according to many studies, making strength training a part of your regular practice will also reduce your risk of injury.
A 2017 systematic review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that runners who strength train regularly improve their oxygen uptake (or VO2 max), lactate threshold, running economy, and musculo-tendon stiffness.
So what kind of strength training sessions should you include in your on mile training plan?
The focus for the bulk of your strength sessions should be on your those muscles that you will use most in your one mile trial. Some examples of exercises include:
- Step Ups
- Plank Variations
Related: Guide To Weightlifting For Runners
The Test: Running Your 7 Minute Mile
You’ve put in all the hard work in training, now it’s time for the big day!
To make sure that it all runs smoothly, here’s our guide.
Just as you did with your initial test mile, choose a day when you are well-rested and not achy or sore from training. And if possible, run your mile on the same route or track you used before. That way, your time comparison will be as accurate as possible.
Do a proper warm up: jog for 10-20 minutes, perform some dynamic drills, and follow up with some short strides.
Take a few deep breaths, remind yourself that you’ve got what it takes, and go for it!
As soon as you start, aim for the pace. Run on the 7 minute mile pace, or a couple of seconds faster. Keep that pace.
And as you round the corner of the finishing straight- sprint! Give it all you’ve got!
Bask in the glory of your achievement. You smashed it!
And if you fell a couple of seconds short of your target, keep chipping away- there’s always tomorrow.
inspired to stick to a training plan?
There’s no better way to become a stronger and faster runner. Check ours out:
Couch To 5K: Complete Training Plan And Running Guide