Physical Test - Training to do a Mile in 13:20 Minutes

by Melissa
(Louisville, Ky)

I currently do not run and just started my Weight Watcher's diet. I have an interview, which includes a physical agility test in one month where I need to be able to run a mile in 13 min and 20 sec. Yesterday, I was able to get to .69 miles in that time, how can I get to a mile in less than 13 min 20 seconds within the next month?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,

Thanks for your question about improving your mile time.

Four weeks is not a great deal of time to work with. The good thing about having a low base to start from is that it is possible to make quite dramatic improvements in a short amount of time.

The keys to success here will be:

1. Improve your running through a run/walk approach
2. Walk on your non-running days
3. Test yourself once a week

Improve your running through a run/walk approach

I think that the biggest bang for buck here is to do a run/walk running program. At the moment running takes a whole lot of energy for you. You need to get more comfortable with running. The way to get more running into your workout when you are a beginner like yourself, is to alternate running and walking.

A possible approach is that you have a workout of about 30 minutes or so, in which you start with less running and more walking, and you slowly build up the running proportion of your workout. E.g., you could start with 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking (repeated 10 times). Maybe the next run/walk workout you do 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of running (repeated 9 times for a workout of 31.5 minutes).

Any improvement in the time spent running would be fantastic. It would be great if by the end of the four weeks you could do something like 6 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking for 4-5 times.

Check out the Beginner Running Programs - Run/Walk Programs on this site.

Walk on your non-running days

I'd recommend running for three or four times per week. Alternate a run/walk day with a rest day. A rest day does not mean no exercise at all. I'd still recommend getting a good 30 to 45 minute brisk walk in. Or do an alternative exercise activity that is not running, preferably cardio based. For example, exercise bike, elliptical, swim.

Test yourself once a week

Now, if you had a whole lot more time to play with my advice would be somewhat different. I'd focus on other faster workouts and work up to this.

But, given the time available, I'd recommend that once a week, you test your fitness by doing a one mile fitness test. Cover the whole mile as fast as you can.

Reason one is that it will show you how much you are improving. Yes, you will improve when you get more active, and you get used to running and other cardio based exercise.

Reason two is that we want to know how much more work is needed to get to your goal. You may find that at the end of week 1 you do your mile in 18 minutes. Maybe at end of week 2 you will do it in 16 and at the end of week 3 you might be at 14 minutes. That's still not 13:20 minutes, but hopefully it will give you confidence that with another week of training you can do it.

And reason three is that you need to get used to pushing yourself for that distance. It's quite a good workout in its own right.

Lastly, the last day before the test I would treat as a recovery / rest day with very little training. Maybe a short walk of 15-20 minutes or so to keep the legs moving, but nothing too onerous that will make you tired for the next day.

All the best, hope it goes well. You haven't given yourself a lot of time. But hopefully with dedication and focus you get there.

Check out further info on the following page --> The Most Important Beginner Running Tips

Kind regards,

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