How Fast Should I Run a Mile?
We use miles as markers of progress in our cardio exercises all the time, whether it’s the mile markers in a race, or to track our own health progress.
When you time yourself and figure out how long it takes to run that mile, you have time to beat, a goal to achieve.
But what’s actually reasonable? What goal should you set, and how is it impacted by sex and age?
Turns out there are a lot more factors that go into that answer than even we were thinking when we started this journey. Let’s talk about that.
Is Running a Mile a Difficult Task?
Running a mile is certainly no small feat. It is difficult to run a mile and sprint the entire time, at least for those just starting out. It changes depending on your weight, your fitness level, and just how determined you are.
A mile is 5,280 feet, which is equivalent to roughly 17 ½ football fields.
When you think of it contextually, it’s like “Wow, that’s a lot of distance to cover”, although many individuals just think of it as a small number compared to a marathon (26.2 miles).
Running a mile is something that people think they can do until they’re actually put to the test.
If you can run a mile, especially with no breaks in the middle, you’re at least at the threshold of a very healthy body and high levels of endurance.
It’s not as simple as just opening up the front door and going full sprint for a mile. You need the right gear to help carry you through every step, every part of the process.
We’re listing these in order of necessity, so if you find some of the later items to be optional, that’s perfectly okay.
- Running Shoes: Arguably the most important part of running. Your running shoes will provide stability, shock absorption, and hopefully, they’ll also have proper pronation to help your feet through the entire process. Your running shoes are the most important item for you to grab, so be sure to prioritize this on your budget above all else.
- Running Clothes: Running-specific attire will be made out of sweat-wicking materials, provide tons of ventilation to help you cool your body down, and generally contour to the body to reduce drag while running. Besides, nobody wants to feel baggy clothes fluttering while they’re trying to hit that mile marker.
- Insulated Water Bottle: If you’re heading out for a run, you’re going to get hit with some major thirst before too long. That’s because you’re burning through your body’s water storage and allocating it to the organs that need it while you sweat it out. Bring an insulated water bottle with you so that you can have water at whatever temperature you prefer, and try to either run with it in your hand, or keep it in a knapsack or whatever else you bring with you.
- Energy/Protein Bars: This is more for your pre-run game than actually during your run, but eating an energy bar before you hit the ground running could seriously help with fatigue control and energy levels throughout your run. Of course, this depends on how long you’re going to run for. If it’s a rounded mile (meaning you return home as the mile concludes), you may not need an energy bar for that 10-15 minute endeavor. Use them appropriately.
- Headphones/Music: While many may not deem this as essential, I would personally despise going on a run without hyped-up music to listen to for the duration. It’s helpful to cut out the external sounds around you, whether that’s traffic, distant car horns, or just to show people that you’re zoned-in and unavailable during your run.
- Knapsack: A small running-appropriate drawstring bag could be useful to hold a water bottle, on-the-go snacks, perhaps a change of shirt if you’re going to stop in at an establishment during your run, or whatever else you need. Just be sure it’s snug against you so it doesn’t flop around.
There’s plenty of other running gear you can use as well. Depending on your preferences and how you like to exercise (high-intensity, uneven terrain, etc.), you might find a few additional items to be of use. Contour it to the way you like to workout.
How Fast Should I Do it?
The rule of thumb is between 12 and 15 minutes per mile for beginners, 9 to 12 minutes per mile for experienced or relatively fit individuals, and the crazy average for marathon runners is around 4 to 5 minutes per mile.
But let’s be real for a minute: there aren’t just three tiers to running. It’s a very individual experience and depends largely on your sex and your age.
Men aged 20 to 35 can expect to experience a similar amount of time spent running a mile. These average around 9 minutes to 11 minutes depending on the level of runner capability and experience.
Around age 40, you can begin to see times taper off and limit your ability. With the next decline in average times being around age 50 to 55, increasing your total average by about 15-20%.
Women aged 20 to 35 can expect to experience an average run time of around 10 minutes up to around 12 minutes for a basic and novice level of running aptitude. It all depends on the individual.
However, at age 40, this decline doesn’t happen as drastically as previously thought. That average only rises to about 11 ½ minutes to around 13 minutes, and that number doesn’t change until around age 55.
Running a Mile in Your Own Shoes
Give yourself credit while you’re learning how to run competitively, or even if you’re just trying to improve upon your old times to hit new fitness and endurance goals. It’s time to lace up, pop those headphones on, and zone in while you work out.
If you’re still not keen on how you want to hit your running goals, check out our other guides for more information on becoming a better runner, and getting the best running gear for the long road ahead.