How to Run A 9 Minute Mile: The Complete Training Guide

The average novice runner will complete a mile in around 12 minutes, so getting your mile time down to a 9-minute mile is a sure sign that you are becoming a strong and capable runner.

It is around this time you will start to see some real improvements in your running.

Maybe you are starting to run more consistently and are looking to get faster – or are just one who likes a slow run and you are wondering if pushing to the next level will be your cup of tea.

Read on as we discuss:

  • Who can run a 9 minute mile,
  • What the 9 Minute Mile pace is,
  • How to train in your running workouts,
  • How to cross train,
  • How long will it take to train to run a 9 minute mile ,

Let’s go!

how to run a 9 minute mile

who Can Run a 9 minute mile?

For those who are regular runners, the average pace for a mile is around 10 minutes, so for those of you searching for that elusive 9 minute mile time, all it will require is some consistent training and a bit of hard work, but it is fully achievable.

This is not saying that it is going to be easy!

For some runners, it will be easier than others but for everyone, some commitment is needed.

This includes training on the road (or trails) but also cross training, which includes some strength work (if you want to level up your running game faster and more effectively).

How fast is a 9 minute mile really?

The 9-minute mile pace works out at 5.35 min/km, around 6.7 miles per hour, or 10.7 km per hour – it should feel like a fast jog.

Most novice runners find it easy enough to hit this pace, but holding it for 9 minutes can take some training!

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How to train for a 9 minute mile

So if you are already running a little but can’t seem to hit that 9-minute mile pace, there are a few areas to address.

Chances are that if you just keep going for runs, eventually you’ll get faster and you’ll hit the target pace – but that’s the inefficient way to do this.

Much better to train smart and use a range of workouts to get faster.

I recommend you build your training week around the 3 following types of workout:

  • Longer Runs
  • Strength Training

All of this training will improve either your aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems, or both!

Anaerobic exercise is where lactic acid builds up in your muscles as you exercise. This is where your legs are burning and you’re breathing heavily to try and get more oxygen to your working muscles but you’re not getting enough in.

Related: How To Run a 10-Minute Mile

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You usually experience this going up a steep hill or maybe some steps or when you are running too fast.

Aerobic exercise is the opposite of this. You are running or walking at a nice comfortable rate, your breath is slower and under control and you could keep going forever (well, maybe not forever, but for pretty long)

Think about when you are walking around the shops, no muscle soreness or panting while picking up your favorite lunch, this is what I mean!

Speed Work: Interval training

Interval training is repeated sets of running a set distance at speed and following it by the same distance at a slow jog or maybe a walk (The walk is your recovery in between sets).

This type of training will improve your anaerobic threshold (How long you can push yourself at the limit) as well as your running economy.

Related: What’s A Good Mile Time? Average Times To Run A Mile By Age + Gender

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Building up your anaerobic threshold is important so you can keep running harder for longer. This is key when running the whole 1609 meters when running a 9 minute mile.

If you are lucky enough to live and run near a track, and you can get onto it, try running 200m or 400m for your repeats (which is half or a full lap of the track). This is a nice easy way of keeping track of how far you are running.

If you normally train on the road or on trails just pick two landmarks such as two lamp posts or two distinctive-looking trees to run between and walk back to the starting point. Really any two points will do, just try and make them about 200 meters apart.

And all you have to do is run your set distance at an 8/10 effort (so pushing almost to the limit) and once you hit the end just run slowly or walk back to the start at a 5/10 or less (if you are really tired!)

Repeat this process 4 times

Make sure to cool down afterward. All that hard running will have built up lactic acid and other harmful by-products in your muscles, so a 10 minute walk at the end will help your body flush out your muscles and start the healing process.

Related: Progression Runs Guide: Ramp Up Runs + 4 Progression Workouts To Try Out

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Fartlek training (Alternative To Intervals)

Fartlek training is a great way of incorporating some speed work into your normal runs as well to keep those runs engaging and fun.

Fartlek Training works in much the same way as interval training, improving your speed and anaerobic threshold for acheiving that 9 minute mile.

The main difference between Fartlek and interval training is that Fartlek sprints are done to the runners’ preference. Meaning if you are running along and see a bench up ahead and want to sprint to it, go for it!

Once you hit your target then just continue on your run as normal.

It’s that easy!

The number of the sprints is up to you as well. If you are used to doing 4 interval sprints, then maybe incorporating 4/5 Fartlek sprints (depending on how far you run for) is a good place to start.

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Long Runs

Running for 9 minutes chasing your 9 minute mile can be tough!

Long runs are great for your general running fitness, including when running faster for longer. Long runs increase your stamina and build endurance.

If you are a consistent 3 or 4-mile runner when you go running, try adding on an extra mile on one day and doing a recovery run of 2 miles the next.

When running further make sure to keep your pace slow and sustainable and be able to hold a conversation, so you shouldn’t be out of breath.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of rest time afterward as you are starting to go further than you have before!

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Strength Training

When trying to speed up and improve your pace, building your strength will improve your form and increase your power, making you run faster when back out running!

You should include strength training one day a week in place of a running day, this is known as cross-training.

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Crunches
  • Leg raises
  • Push ups

Strengthening your legs will make your stride stronger so pushing off the ground at speed will become more comfortable and much more powerful.

Having a strong core will help you have good running form. While running your back should be straight with shoulders back, and you should be leaning slightly forward.

Without a strong core, the tendency is for your shoulders to roll forward and for you to be running hunched over, which wastes precious energy as you go!

And the push-ups are for your swinging arms!

Running can be tiring on your upper body too, swinging your arms as you go and holding your body upright, it’s a good idea to keep everything in tip-top shape to make running a 9 minute mile as effortless as possible.

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How long will it take?

The ability to run a 9 minute mile depends on the runner.

For it may only take a few weeks, but for everyone who is diligent, a 9 minute mile should be very achievable within 3 months, but if you are already a steady 11-12 minute mile runner it shouldn’t take this long!

For all runners, young and old, running a 9 minute mile is a great milestone to show you are progressing as a runner!

Photo of author
Tom McMeekin-Donnelly is a runner, outdoor enthusiast and cyclist. Tom competes in ultra-marathons in the UK and Ireland. Tom runs anything from a marathon to 100 miles. He can often be found in the mountains around his home in Ireland.

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