How To Run An 8 Minute Mile: The Complete Training Guide

Running a mile can be tough. Think back to when you started running, more often than not, a mile was a challenge in itself.

Now you are looking to run one mile in 8 minutes – we’re going to take you through how to get there.

The chances are you can run a mile in around 9 minutes already, and you are looking to level up and get quicker.

In this article, we will look at:

  • How fast is an 8 minute mile?
  • Who can run an 8 minute mile?
  • Types of training to boost your endurance and get faster.
  • How to boost your game off the road.
  • How long will it take?

Ready to get into it?

Let’s go.

How to Run An 8 Minute Mile

How fast is an 8 minute mile?

An 8-minute mile is equivalent to running a 4 min 58-sec kilometer.

An 8-minute mile is also the equivalent of running 7.5 miles per hour, or 12 kilometres per hour.

Who can run an 8 minute mile?

An 8 minute mile, although it can be challenging, can be achieved by practically every runner.

All it takes is a bit of training and time.

Most people reading this should have a solid base to work with, so the 8-minute mile is very achievable.

How to train to run an 8 minute mile

We’ve outlined 4 great training exercises to level up your running and hit that 8 minute mile time.

The types of training we will be looking at will be mostly about speed. For your 8-minute mile attempt, you will be using fast-twitch muscle fibers, so sprints and lots of faster running will help you achieve your goal.

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We will also be looking at boosting your lactate threshold, which is the intensity of exercise at which lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood faster than it can be removed.

The more trained your lactate threshold, the harder you can push before your legs start to burn.

Here are 4 awesome workouts to help you run an 8 minute mile:

#1. 400 Meter repeats

To run an 8 minute mile it is best to incorporate speed workouts once or twice per week, this way, you will get the greatest benefit out of your weeks’ workouts without burning out.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Spend 10 – 15 minutes doing light jogging to warm-up,
  • Do a 400m lap at a very slow jog or walk to recover,
  • Repeat this so you do a total of 4 fast laps and 4 recovery laps
    (note that on your first workout, you may just manage 2 or 3).
How to Run An 8 Minute Mile 4

#2. Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are a great way of boosting your speed and your strength. Powering up a hill makes you stronger – similar to a strength training session focussed on legs – and it is a great workout that you can usually do quite close to home.

First, you need to find the right hill for you. You want to use a hill that is not so steep that you cannot run up it, but it should still be challenging enough.

Start with 15 minutes of slow running as a good warm-up which can be done on your way to the hill.

Run up the hill for 30-45 seconds at around 8-9 out of 10 effort (RPE) and have a minute and a half of recover afterward as you walk back to your start point.

Repeat this 4-8 times. The first few sessions will be tough, but you should be able to add one repeat each time you do it.

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

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#3. Long Slow Training Runs

During your week, you should be running a long run, whether it is a 5k or more long runs help to improve your overall fitness allowing you to run further and faster.

Long and slow training is the best way to boost your aerobic endurance and improve your efficiency. Long, slow runs can improve the mitochondrial density in your muscles cells, which are the energy-producing cells in your muscles.

This all sounds complicated, but basically, it makes your body better at using all the energy and oxygen that you have ready to use in your body.

Long runs also improve your VO2 Max. Now that you are a keen runner, you may start hearing this phrase pop up more and more.

VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise during exercise.

For runners trying to get an 8 minute mile, you should be running a long run of between 5-10 kilometres once a week.

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#4. Fartleks!

Long runs help boost your endurance, and as we have mentioned before, a mile can be a long hard slog. But during these long runs, it is not to say that we can’t make the most out of our time.

Bring on Fartlek training!

Fartlek Training is a variation of interval training, but rather than setting a specific distance to use as an interval, you incorporate your own intervals during a longer run as and when you want to.

The distance and quantity of these intervals are up to you, so it can be a more relaxed and natural way of working some speed work into your running week.

You can run between two lamp posts or from the gate of a house to the nearest bush; it is up to you!

During your long runs, try and incorporate around 5 or 6 periods of faster running, of about 40-50m each.

Healthy Habits For A Faster Mile

With all this extra running, if you don’t take care of your body post-run, you may end up with an injury, and then you won’t be running at all.

Recovery is hugely important in getting faster and running your 8 minute mile. Giving your body the rest and recovery it needs after a hard workout to repair and get stronger is how you improve.

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We are going to be looking at 3 elements of recovery:

  • Stretching
  • Food and water
  • Sleep

#1: Stretching

After every run, a solid stretch routine, or yoga movement, is vital to allow your muscles to be gently stretched so they stay subtle. Not stretching after your run can cause your muscles to become tight or stiff, which can increase your chances of getting injured on your next run.

As you try and get faster often the tightness in your legs will be focussed into your quads and hip flexors, so when you get back from your run make sure to at least follow these few stretches to avoid injury and stay loose.

  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Standing quadricep stretch
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Downward dog and walk out your calves
  • Pigeon pose

These are very simple but are the most basic leg stretches you can do to stay limber.

#2: Food And Hydration

Getting the proper nutrients into your body for your muscles to grow stronger and repair is essential, so eating the right food after your runs is imperative—foods filled with carbs to replenish your energy stores and proteins to build stronger muscles.

When you run, your body loses water and salt through sweat. During a 5k, you could lose up to half a litre of water. If you don’t replace this lost water and salt, then you could suffer from cramps and a headache from dehydration.

#3: Sleep

Sleep is also hugely important to your performance. During sleep, growth hormones are released into your body, which stimulates your muscles’ growth and helps keep your body fat level down. Without good sleep, you do not get access to this free training gem.

And after all that training, you will be thankful for the extra sleep your giving yourself!

How To run An 8 Minute Mile

How long will it take To Train For An 8 Minute Mile?

Training 3-5 times a week should easily get you there within 3 months if you are motivated to get to your goal.

Running an 8 minute mile is no easy feat. It will require lots of time commitment and perseverance. However, if you train consistently, you will be able to achieve an 8 minute mile.

With everything in life, it is all about consistency so if you are committed to running an 8 minute mile then you have to stay on top of your training.

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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