With the arrival of fall it is time to say goodbye to outdoor
track & field. Those avid track fans need not to worry; in just
a couple of months indoor track will begin. For the runners who
had the misfortune of suffering through injuries during the
track season, now is the time to heal and rebuild. Although
track racing will be put on hold until December, track training
can continue uninterrupted throughout the fall. The mile-repeat
workout is a classic on the track-training regimen that sets
the foundation for successful running for seasons to come.
During my elite days of competitive running I managed to dodge
the dreaded mile repeats. For years I had heard runners talk
about various mile repeat workouts they either witnessed or
participated in. In 1993, when I attended a three month
training camp in Boulder, Colorado, I recall watching two
female world-class marathoners doing multiple mile-repeats
around the university track; I was amazed by their pace (5:30 -
5:40) and how little recovery they had between the miles (one
minute). I occasionally joined workouts on U.C.'s track with
national-class distance runners, but never mile repeats. I
stuck firm to the misconception that a middle distance runner
could not benefit from running repeat miles.
It was during my return to training in 2003, after the birth of
my second child, that I made the decision to introduce mile
repeats into my track training routine. I had lost the weight
and my body looked toned, but I was having difficulty returning
to my pre-pregnancy fitness. Intervals that had worked for me
in the past were no longer improving my race performances.
Remembering what I had observed and heard over the years, I
decided to put mile repeat training to the test.
One Saturday morning, I labored through three mile repeats on a
local asphalt track. I gave myself five minutes to recover
between the miles. I recall feeling less exhausted than I
thought I would. I did not shoot for any specific time for each
of the three miles, though I did time each mile. At the
conclusion of the session I had a sense of accomplishment
unlike any I had ever experienced. The following week I
increased to four mile repeats; from that day forward mile
intervals became a staple to my training. Within two weeks my
5K road race time improved by more than 30 seconds.
Doing mile repeats on the track takes focus and discipline. The
addition of the mile repeats to your training program may be
just the boost you need to reach your particular fitness goal.
Here are a few tips on performing the mile repeat track workout:
Be prepared to remove layers of clothing before beginning a
mile repeat session. It is important to allow the body to move
efficiently and not be bogged down by excessive clothing that
can raise your body temperature. Wear lightweight training
shoes during the mile intervals. Regular running shoes are fine
to wear for your warm-up and cool-down. No matter how cool the
temperature may be, always bring fluids in order to hydrate
between sets. Bring a pencil and paper for recording times.
Where to Work Out
You can complete mile repeats on any standard middle school,
high school, or college track. A standard outdoor track is 400
meters per lap. One mile or 1600 meters is four laps around the
track in lane one. A mile is just a few meters longer than
a1600M run. The surface of the track can vary from dirt,
cinder, or asphalt, to all-weather rubberized; any of which are
sufficient for performing mile repeats.
It is important to slowly introduce mile repeats to your
training program. The high physical and mental demand of
multiple laps around a track can be defeating. You want to
leave your first mile repeat session with the feeling of
Be sure to do a ten minute jog and a few 100 meter strides
before you begin your workout. Take your current 5K time and
figure out your mile splits. Add ten seconds to your 5K mile
split time. Run your mile repeats at your adjusted mile pace.
Record your mile times. Only run three one-mile repeats in your
first session. Give yourself five minutes of recovery between
Training Solo or With Partners
Although it may be easier to get motivated by having training
partners, do not let conflicting schedules get in the way of
achieving your goals. Working out solo is acceptable.
Conquering the repeat mile workout in a solo mission can make
you an even tougher competitor.
If you are fortunate enough to have a training group or
partner, take turns leading the intervals. On blustery days,
sharing the lead with others can be advantageous for all.
By your second or third mile repeat workout you should begin to
increase the number and the pace of the miles that you repeat.
You should also gradually decrease the recovery time between
miles; adjust to no less than one-minute recovery. Do not do
more than one mile repeat session in a seven day period. Be
realistic when increasing your workload. Do not over-train.