I Want to Run a Sub-4 Minute Mile

by Jamie

I want to run a sub-4 minute mile. I know it will take a lot more time then I have but I would like to be close to it in March. I'm 19 and have been working on this goal for five months now.

I was running a 5:46 mile. Now I am at a 5:05 but have stopped seeing improvements lately.

I have been doing mostly long distance work and have been averaging 40 miles a week. I am 6'2" at 145lb.

I have always been a bit slower at short sprints like 100m, 200m I think that's what has been keeping back but how do I fix it fast and still keep on track.

I'm thinking weights after 5kms or maybe 20x200m.

Tell what u think will help and thanks 4 reading.

running tips
Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your question about wanting to run a sub-4 minute mile.

You are setting yourself some hard, hard goal.

Reducing your time by more than 20% is tough. Reducing it to a level that probably only 1% of the running population can get to is double tough.

So, first of all, great goal, but do consider to some intermediate goals as well.

You are doing 5:05 at the moment, let's first see if you can get to sub-5, then sub-4:50, etc. I'd hate to see you lose motivation because you can't get to sub-4, when in reality not many people can.

In addition, five months of targeted training is great, but not a lot yet. Do give yourself some time to get better. Progress is never full steam ahead, it goes in bumps, ups & downs.

Having said all that, let's now see what you can do to start running faster.

I think that those 40 miles / week have helped. Long distance work is great to build a base and even though a mile is short, you do need a strong base. After all, you need to be able to be fast over a long period (4-5 minutes). Without that base, you'd falter much faster. See my base running drills page for more information.

But a strong mile does require some tough speedwork as well.

Now is the time to replace some of your slower runs by interval runs and repetition runs.

Focus on some speedwork that is either faster than your current mile speed, but a bit shorter (e.g. 3 x 400m at faster than mile speed), at mile speed (4 x 400m), or slower than mile speed, but longer (3-6 x 800m, 2-4x1200m, 2-3x 1600m).

Make sure that you maintain the same speed in each and every repetition. And also make sure that you treat these as "hard days", i.e. don't do two days of speedwork in a row. This high-intensity stuff is not only hard, it is also a cause of a lot more injuries, so you really do need to be careful with it.

In addition, I would recommend adding strides to some of your easy runs. Running strides will see you help improve your running technique.

The suggestion of doing some weight/resistance training is not a bad one, but you need to know what to focus on. What are current weak spots in your physiological make-up and how can you best target that? You may be able to find some assistance in a gym or at your school / college for this.

I think you will start seeing improvements, although it may take a little while. Usually after 1-3 months of consistently training at different running speeds, people start seeing lots of improvement.

As said before, your sub-4 goal is tough, so I am not going to guarantee that you'll make it, but with some targeted training, you should be able to improve on your current times.

Best of luck.
Kind regards,

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