Best Running Workouts for a Miler

by Jeff

best running workouts for a miler

Four years ago, at age 56, I was running a 5:12 mile and 2:21 800m. I am now 60 and can't break a 6:00 mile. 800m time is up to 2:36. I still have similar speed in my workouts as I did a few years ago but it seems I have lost speed endurance.

What workouts(tempo, VO2 Max, or fast reps) will help my speed endurance the most?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi Jeff,
Thanks for your question about the best workouts for a miler.

Firstly, kudos! Your commitment to running and the prowess you show is incredible! Remember, every runner has their hurdles and speed bumps. Your query is a common one among competitive runners and boils down to deciphering the most effective workouts for speed endurance.

Let's get into the following:

1. Aging and athletic performance
2. Best Workouts for a Mile - Intervals and Repeats
3. Speed and endurance - a partnership
4. Strength training when older
5. Putting the pieces together

Aging and Athletic Performance

best running workouts for a miler
Aging, while a natural process, brings with it certain alterations.

As we mature, there are inevitable changes in physiology and muscle strength. You're still running strong at 60, which is phenomenal!

However, a moderate drop in performance over the years can be a natural part of aging. This doesn't mean it's all downhill once you hit a certain age, but adjusting expectations might have to become part of the game at some point!

Ever since my late thirties, and definitely into my forties I have noticed this reduction in performance come through in different ways.

Coming back from an injury, it takes longer to get fit and fast again.

Hitting previous normal tempo and interval speeds isn't that normal anymore.

Recovery after a big workout or long run takes a bit longer.

But enough complaining about getting older...! There is much we can do to slow the decline and preserve speed and strength.

So, let's start taking about and let's get to the heart of your question.

Best Workouts for a Mile - Intervals and Repeats

best running workouts for a miler
Let me start by saying that you need to have a healthy level of crazy in you to be doing the mile! It's such a tough, tough distance. An all-out sprint that goes for too long. That pretty much sums up the mile for me.

So, what do you need for that speed in your legs? Intervals and repeats.

I'd definitely recommend making intervals an important part of your running routine. By important part, I don't mean do them all the time. But they should be a staple of your running program and be scheduled almost every week, if not every week.

Check out the Interval Running page for more information.

I'd recommend doing some longer intervals (e.g. 600m / 800m) at slower than mile speed. You'd want to run those at roughly 3k-5k speed. But also do some training at mile speed with shorter intervals (e.g. 200m / 400m).

Repetitions and Strides
One thing that happens when we get older is that we lose some of that super fast speed. And that definitely becomes a problem when you don't practice running fast regularly. That's why repetitions and strides are important. I would make strides be another recurring item in your running program. Do them at least once every week at the end of an easy run.

Speed and Endurance - A Partnership

Digging a little deeper into your performances, there seems to be a considerable gap between your 800m and mile timings. Based on a 2:36 800m, my race conversion calculator suggests you should be running a mile in about 5:27. You are currently doing it in or around 6 minutes.

So here's the twist in our plot: maybe the real protagonist isn't speeding up, but slowing down. That's right, your trump card could be increasing your slow workouts – encompassing more tempo runs, easy runs, and of course, the champions of endurance – long runs!

The tough thing about the mile, as I said before, is that it is almost an all-out sprint that goes for too long. That's why endurance is so important, even for a "short run" like the mile. So, still make sure that the bulk of your running is at the slower end of the spectrum. A strong tempo run and a good long run supported by lots of easy miles can do a lot of good for 98% of runners. And judging by those race performance, I think they'll help you as well.

Strength Training When Older

best running workouts for a miler
As I referenced before, when we get older, we lose some of our speed. We lose some of our explosivity. But there is a solution. Something that helps arrest some of the decline. The answer? Strength training. Lifting heavy weights can help you preserve, even build, speed and power.

You may know that as we get older we lose muscle mass. Strength training comes in as the saving grace, preserving some of our youthful strength. But you need to work for it!

Additionally, it helps you build and maintain a more injury-resilient body. One thing I wanted to stress is that while I am telling you do to intervals and
strides, you do need to do these with care. Especially if you are not used to doing faster workouts, they can be very hard on your body.

I have a bunch of running friends that are late 50s, early 60s and some of them have completely sworn off any faster work, simply as they find it too hard on their bodies.

Others have fared better and are still able to do a hard workout once or twice a week. The big difference is that they have maintained this as part of their workout routine for years and years. And they pretty much all do strength training to be able to deal with the hard workouts.

Read up on strength training for runners via the link.

Putting the Pieces Together

Admittedly, it's a conundrum. On one hand, intervals and repeats are necessary for a competitive miler. But on the other hand, with your timings, I believe you need a stronger endurance base before you speed up the pace.

So, here’s a potential game plan: Start prioritizing slower runs. Build up your endurance base, using tempo and easy/long runs. Do strides once or twice a week, to keep your leg speed. And start incorporating strength training into your life, if you aren't already. Once that foundation is solid, then start doing some interval workouts to really sharpen your race speed.

While perseverance is definitely your strong suit, don't lose sight of the joy of running. Remember, you're blazing trails at an age where many hesitate to tread. Chin up, Jeff, you're already a champ!

Hoping this helps you navigate your running journey!

Best regards,

Return to 1 Mile Running Questions.

Like this page:

Share this page:

Like this site:

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!


  • Beginner Running Tips

    Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.

  • Running for Weight Loss

    Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.

  • Running Training

    The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.

  • 5k Running Tips

    The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.

  • 10k Running Tips

    The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!

  • Marathon Running Tips

    The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!

What's New?

  1. Heart Rate Monitor Training - The Zoladz Method

    Every running pace has its own heart rate zone. The heart rate monitor training zones according to Zoladz are explained in this section.

    Read more

  2. Yasso 800 :: The Marathon Pace Workout with a Twist

    The Yasso 800 is supposed to be a predictor of marathon performance. It is a marathon pace workout with a twist. Learn more about the Yasso 800 on this page.

    Read more

  3. Running for Weight Loss - Injured...

    I started a run-walk program 3 weeks ago to help me lose 80 lbs. I was up to running 3 min / walk 3 min 3 days a week on my treadmill. Last week after

    Read more

  4. What Can I Do To Improve My Half Marathon Time?

    I am a 53 yo male 5'11, 165lbs. I have been running for about 8 years. I have run 7 marathons and have never broken the 4hr mark even though all my

    Read more

  5. Daniels Running Formula Book Review - The Running Training Book You Have Got to Have

    If I had to recommend you to get one running book only, then it would have to be Daniels Running Formula by running coach Jack Daniels.

    Read more