Friday, September 19, 2008

How To Run a 6 Minute Mile - 6 Minute Mile Training Plan

How do I run a 6 minute mile?Good question, and one I have heard a lot. This article will provide you some tips on how to run a 6 minute mile.

Within this post I am going to outline a basic training schedule so you will be able to run a 6 minute mile, or faster. There are also some 6 minute mile milestones you should reach along the way, and some guidelines to tell you if you are ready to run below 6 minutes. First and foremost, make sure you have a base fitness level. If you are just getting into running or haven’t been actively involved in other sports (soccer, basketball, biking, etc), start this plan in a month or so, once you have established a base. If you don’t you risk injury.

Now on to training. If you have been running and want to get your time down the following training routines should help you out. This article and plan have split it up into a 13 weeks with milestones. If you reach the milestones earlier you can feel free to jump ahead to the next portion of training but I recommend, for your long term running health, stick with the time line.
Three things you want to keep track of: 1. Total Mileage, 2. Long Run Pace, 3. How your legs feel. I recommend using a Nike+ ipod kit for this as it makes the tracking of your runs painless! You want to keep your total mileage up at first and taper down when it comes to race time, knowing what you ran is a good way to do this. Your longer runs, on your so called days off, shouldn’t always be at the same pace. These runs are what we will use as indicators for how you are progressing. Lastly, if you don’t keep track of how your legs feel how will you know how to back off so you don’t get injured?

Base Building
If you’ve been running more than 20 miles a week you can skip to Week 3
Week 1
Non-runner: Start out slow, run 3 times this week and run 1 to 3 miles. Just get used to it
Recreational runner: I assume you run 2 or 3 times a week already, or more. Continue this but keep track of your pace, what you ran for each mile. You should be running each mile in at least 8:00 to 8:30, that’s minutes and seconds. Run about 2-4 miles each run.
Progressed Runner: You probably are running 20 miles or more a week. Keep this up but make sure you are running faster than 8:30 pace. I have found the slower I run the more pain it causes my joints. All that pounding, there was no momentum carrying my weight forward, it was all going into my knees, shins and ankles. Pick up the pace you’ll need to.

Week 2
Non-runner: If you’re hurting, as in shins and knees, consult a doctor or run less, this may take you a little longer, repeat week 1 either way.

Recreational runner
: Repeat week 1 but add some strides at the end of two of your running days. Preferably on grass find a distance that is 50-150 yards and run at a fast pace taking long strides. Stop rest and run back. Do 5 of these this week.

Progressed Runner
: Repeat week 1 as well and add some strides just like the recreational runner.

: We are still building a base here but you should be up to at least 8 miles of running a week all at about 8:30 pace, maybe faster. Try doing strides, 50-150 yards on grassy surface, running at a fast pace, “striding” out your legs.

Recreational Runner: You’ve probably had an easy time with this and should be running 8 to 12 miles this week (or more). Try and bump your running up to 4 times this week, more if you can handle it. Do strides again, 5 times at the end of 3 runs.

Progressed runner: You’re probably running 5 times a week, just remember to keep the pace below 8 minutes per mile. Do strides 3 times this week.

Week 4 - This will be the last week of base building

Non-runner: You might have one or two more weeks of base building. If you haven’t been able to run at least 10 miles within a week all at below 8:30 pace go back to week 2 and follow through on the steps. Trust me you’ll be glad.

Recreational runner and Progressed runner: You both should be at about 12-20 miles a week, and each mile should be better than 8:30 pace. Finish off week four with the same amount as in week 3 as well as doing the same amount of strides. Take note of your legs and make sure to stop if you feel pain in the shins. Don’t go slower, you’re legs will be junk if you slow down your pace, trust me.

Week 4
Once you’ve got up to 10-20 miles per week of running at 8:30 or better pace you’ll need to find a route that is a half a mile long. I prefer a track but if you don’t have access to that look for a half mile loop on a trail, and then if you don’t have that go to a road (not the best for your legs). This is where you will begin really training to run a faster mile time. I will write this in week formats as above but assume you now know what pace is and mileage.

Warm-ups: Your warm-ups should start off slow (not slower than 8:30 pace) until you get loose, I suggest running for about 10 minutes. Remember to stretch.

Cool-down: Your cool-down time should be about 5-10 minutes, just get your legs back to resting. Remember to stretch.

Pace: You should run your workouts (800s, 400s, and 200s) all at the same pace. Check your watch at 200 meters or even 100 meters for each lap and make sure you are on pace for to complete the laps for the correct time.

Week 5

Week 6
Repeat Week 1, you don’t want your legs being mad because you began to do some speed work. Just make sure you are doing your mileage at 8:30 pace or better.

Week 7
All runs this week should be run at 8 minute mile pace or better. If you aren’t used to it you may have difficulty the first 1 or 2 runs. But stick with it, you’ll get used to it.

Week 8
Again all runs this week should be run at 8 minute mile pace or better. This week will probably be the hardest week for your track workout day. You should try and get the first two 800’s in the correct time. The remaining two you should of course work your hardest to get them in the correct time but if you slip don’t think it’s the end of the world. Just make sure you don’t slip below your pace from last week for your 800’s (5 seconds slower than this week.)
Next week we will go for one 800 at below 6 minute mile pace. You will have to push yourself so practice pushing yourself this week.

Week 9
Keep going at 8 minute pace. This should be getting easy for you by now.
Non-Runners. Do one more week like week 7 but drop the 800 time to 3:20. For the other two go onto the following week 9 workouts.

Week 10
You should now try for runs of 7:45 pace or better for everyone. If you can get to this point and you were able to complete last weeks 800 workout then you are on your way to running a 6 minute mile! That’s only 90 second quarters, therefore we will now throw into the mix a couple of 400 meter runs (400 yards if that’s easier for you, it’s close enough.) We’re going to throw in two workouts this week. It shouldn’t be too bad if you have been able to complete the mileage and pace as of yet. Almost there

Week 11
Remember to keep running 7:45 pace for all your runs, if you can go faster then by all means go faster just don’t burn your body out. This week we will speed up our 400’s just a little more. For you non-runners you will finally run a pace faster than 6 minute mile pace. Push yourself to get there and you will reap the rewards soon.

Week 12
You’re very close now. The next two weeks we will do something called tapering. Your legs have been getting used to running a lot of miles at decent pace, building strength and speed. Now you will run less intense workouts and your legs will get energized for you to run that 6 minute mile or better.

Week 13
The last week. Run at a decent pace for your regular runs. If you were finding it easy to run at 7:45 pace then keep it up. If that was a struggle don’t worry about slowing down this week, your legs will love you. Run a little less mileage this week and enjoy the rest. You should plan to run the mile over the weekend but if you can’t run a few miles such as Friday and Saturday the days leading up to the run. Do some extra strides if you need for some of the days leading up.

The 6 Minute Mile day
There you have it, 13 weeks to a 6 minute mile. The day of the race you should go over your usual race routine. If you don’t have one treat it like a workout day. Warm up for about 10 minutes. Stretch, do some strides, stretch some more and then get ready to run! If you were able to finish all the workouts you should be able to easily run a 6 minute mile. If you are looking for pacing I will only mention that I like to use the pyramid ideal. Run your first and last lap the same but faster than your middle two laps which should be the same as each other. Take this for instance:
85 seconds - 95 seconds - 95 seconds - 85 seconds

Lap 1: You'll want to start out a little faster than what is necessary to get your target time. The fact of the matter is that psychologically, you're going to slow down as you get further into the mile, so make sure this one is good to compensate. Keep in mind, though, you don't want to spend it all on this lap. A good example would be, if you want to run a 5:00 mile, each lap would need to be 75 seconds. A good time for your first lap would be 71-73; not too fast, but fast enough to give you some slack.

Lap 2: Fall into pace. This is where those 400 meter intervals you worked on will come in handy; know what it feels like to run the pace you need to run. This is the lap which should be right on target. In the 5:00 minute mile we mentioned earlier, THIS is the lap which should be exactly 75 seconds, so your time at the halfway point should be 2:26-2:28. Your adrenaline rush will probably start to wear off midway through this one, and you'll start feeling it, but focus on your running form and keeping the pace.

Lap 3: Mentally and physically, this is the toughest lap for most people. More often than not, this is the one which will determine if you get your target time or not. Chances are, you will slow down from your original pace. In our 5:00 mile example, most people will run from about 77-78 seconds. However, since the first lap was hopefully strong, this puts us almost perfectly at 3:45, which is exactly on target. Nonetheless, it is important to make a conscious effort to keep pace on this lap, or else you will fall behind. Remember, your next lap is the last one!

Lap 4: This is it. You're almost there. That's what you need to be telling yourself at this point. You probably slowed down on your previous lap, so you need to really strut your stuff on this one and mentally push it to get to that time. Especially important is the last 200 meters- on most tracks, that's the final curve. All that can be said about this lap is that you need to mentally give it your all, and you'll make that target time.
When you get to the last 200 meters, kick it HARD You will do it.


Josiah said...

Hey Scott,

I recently came across your blog and enjoyed reading through your archives as a fellow runner.

Over the past few months, I've been helping build - a community-based website for marathoners and triathletes. I wanted to let you know about the site, and wondered if you would be interested in posting about it in your blog.

Keep on running,

rs901 said...

Could you fix the charts for Week 5 and after? I am interested in following the program, but I can't. Otherwise, could you describe the program?

Erin said...

Do you think you could email me week 5? Or fix the chart? Im really interested in starting the program. Thanks!

mcnikki6 said...

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