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9 Tips for Running a Mile and Increasing Pace
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9 Tips for Running a Mile and Increasing Pace

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 22, 2022
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10 min

It’s easy to get in a rut when you run. When you notice your progress has stalled, it’s time to make changes to get you back on track.

tips for running a mile

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Whether you’re a new runner with their eyes set on running their first full mile, or an experienced runner lusting after a better mile time, if you feel like you’re not getting any closer to reaching these milestones, it’s time to make a change.

In a perfect world, all of us would have the money to hire a running coach who could create training plans to help us run faster and for longer.

But, there are easier ways for anyone willing to put in the work.

How to Run a Mile Correctly?

Whether you are working your way up to completing your first-mile run or are already an experienced runner, these adjustments can help you finish a mile in record time.

#1 Practice good running form/posture

Keep your shoulders back

If you have a tendency to hunch your shoulders as you run, it could have a crushing effect on your lungs and negatively impact your breathing.

Making a habit of running with your body forward, shoulders hunched, and head down can lead to shoulder and back pain in the long term as well.

Instead, focus on running with proper form. Be mindful of drawing your shoulders together and back, and do a quick check-in every 5 to 10 minutes of running to ensure they haven’t become hunched again.

Pay attention to your arms

Overswinging your arms or allowing them to cross in front of your body as you run can affect your center of gravity and decrease your running efficiency.

Focus on keeping your body upright, arms bent at around 90 degrees, and your palms closed but not squeezed – imagine you are running with dried leaves in your hands that you don’t want to crush.

All of these body cues will allow you to maximize your effort and make it that much easier for you to finish an entire mile run.

Focus on a midsole foot strike

Most runners tend to land more toward their heels while they run. While this is not technically wrong, it can put unnecessary tension on your calves and cause you to absorb too much impact through your lower legs.

By landing more into the middle of your foot, you can take some of the load off your calves and Achilles tendon, which can be helpful in preventing pain in your calves.

It can also help reduce the chances of you getting overuse injuries like shin splints since the pressure of your landing will be absorbed through more of your foot instead of being passed from your heel into your lower legs.

#2 Start with a pace you can maintain

It’s better to under-run and feel energized at the end of your workout than it is to push yourself and need to take several walking breaks. This is especially true for many beginner runners who tend to get discouraged if they struggle to finish their run.

A good way to figure out if you are running at a good pace is to monitor your breath. If your breath starts to become too labored, it’s time to slow your pace.

Start slow in the beginning, and don’t feel bad if you have to structure in a few walking breaks as well. Over time, you will get stronger, and these walking breaks will be few and far between.

If you’re struggling to find a pace that works for you and notice yourself feeling discouraged at the end of your runs, it might be worthwhile to invest in a running app. 

Joggo can help you create a training plan that is made to match your level of fitness, helping you feel empowered during your runs.

Remember, it’s always easier to increase your pace halfway through a run than it is to work through cramping or tiredness that has set in due to running too quickly. 

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#3 Work with your breathing

Having enough oxygen is one of the most important parts of any intense exercise. Proper oxygenation is what allows us to maintain aerobic respiration

When muscles have enough oxygen, they create ATP – which is a form of energy for the muscles – and produce very little lactic acid while doing so.

As your heart rate increases and your breath becomes more labored, you switch to anaerobic respiration, which releases a lot of lactic acid into your muscles. This causes a burning sensation and cramping in your muscles.

To keep this from happening, focus on taking deep breaths in and out of your nose as you run. If you notice that you begin panting and feel like you can’t get enough air, make sure to slow down until your breathing levels return to normal.

5 Tips for Running a Mile

Regardless of your level of experience, running will always serve as a challenge meant to test your strength and endurance. If you’re struggling to make it through your first mile, these tips can help.

#1 Start with a warm-up

It’s easy to want to skip warm-ups, but they’re essential in getting your body ready to run. A good warm-up can reduce your risk of injury and also boost your performance.

Before starting your run, your muscles and tendons will be cold. Cold muscles and tendons are at risk of tears and strains. These injuries can take weeks, if not months, to heal, and preventing them should be a top priority.

Warm-ups don’t have to be intense. It could include exercises like leg swings and lunges, or even just 5 minutes of slow pace jogging.

#2 Hydrate beforehand

Water is essential for regulating your body temperature while you exercise. If you haven’t hydrated properly, your body won’t have enough extra water to expel through the surface of your skin as sweat.

Sweat is what keeps us cool as we run and is especially important for anyone running outdoors on a hot day.

Water is also important for muscle function, as it is what holds electrolytes – important minerals like calcium and magnesium – that are essential for helping your muscles contract and then relax afterward.

If you’re feeling dehydrated, make sure not to drink a liter of water right before your run. This can cause dilution of these electrolytes and negatively impact muscle function. 

#3 Don’t eat right before you run

When you eat a big meal, your body sends blood to your stomach to aid in the digestion process. Doing so right before you run will leave you with less blood to transport oxygen to your muscles.

Not only that, but eating too soon before you run can also cause cramping and digestion issues, which can keep you from being able to run a mile without needing to take a break.

If you are running in the morning, then eating a light breakfast of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or even just a banana can give you the fuel you need without weighing you down.


When running in the evening, you should avoid eating anything heavy for at least one hour before you plan to run. 

#4 Dress comfortably

Whether you want to run a mile in the cold or are planning a workout on a treadmill, there are certain factors you should always take into consideration when deciding what to wear.

The first is that you should always choose clothing that is light and moisture-wicking. This is partly to help keep you feeling cool while you work up a sweat but also to help prevent chafing. 

You also want to make sure your clothing fits tight. Generally, running clothing is made with a compression aspect to it, which is designed to help prevent cramping and swelling. Just make sure your clothing isn’t leaving red lines on your skin; that could be a sign that you’ve gone a little too tight.

Bonus points if your running gear has pockets for your keys.

#5 Put on an inspiring playlist

Picking the right playlist can give you the extra edge you need to run farther and faster.

There is a phenomenon called Auditory Motor-Synchronization, which is basically where our bodies naturally match our movements to external stimuli.

This means that if you find the right playlist, it can naturally increase the speed at which you run and just generally make your run more enjoyable.

You can find the running-specific playlist on Spotify.

What Is the Average Mile Pace? 

Relatively in-shape runners with some experience can expect to finish running a mile in around 8–10 minutes. Elite runners can run a mile in around 4–5.

New runners can be proud of finishing a mile in under 15 minutes.

4 Ways to Increase Mile Pace

These tips are meant for anyone who already has an established running practice and wants to increase their mile time for a race like a half-marathon.

By incorporating some of these running tips or investing in running shoes that are a better fit for your running gait, you can improve your mile time and cross the finish line faster.

#1 Try a tempo run

Doing tempo runs is one of the best ways for you to increase your cardiovascular health and help you run for longer. 

They are runs that are done at your lactate threshold – which is right around 75% of your maximum heart rate – lasting anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. 

This run will definitely end up being longer than 1 mile, but contrary to what you might think, longer runs can help build up your endurance and help you finish a single mile faster.

Any training schedule you follow should include at least one tempo run a week if you want to improve your endurance and be able to run a mile faster.

#2 Buy better running shoes

Easier than hiring a personal trainer to help you increase your mile time is simply investing in a new pair of sneakers.

The shoes you run in should be the perfect balance of light weight and support, with the extra support needed if you tend more on the inner or outer edge of your feet.

They should also provide enough of a cushion to lessen the impact of your feet against the ground while you run. This can help prevent overuse injuries that might keep you from being able to train.

#3 Don’t forget hill repeat running

Hill repeats can help you get in better shape to run a mile than running on flat ground because doing them challenges not only your body but also your mind.

Running uphill is no easy feat and will require both your legs and your cardiovascular system to work extra hard. 

The mental challenge of forcing yourself to repeatedly run up a hill long after you’re exhausted will also give you the fortitude you need to easily run a mile on a flat route and keep going after the mile is done.

#4 Cross-training is a key

Did you know that cycling burns just as many calories as running? Not only that, but it is a low-impact exercise that strengthens most of the same muscles that are used while running.

Adding cycling into your training plan after high-intensity running workouts can provide your body with a much-needed break from running while still increasing the strength of the muscles in your legs. You can even pencil in a cycling workout on your rest days to aid in muscle recovery.

If you’re dealing with joint issues or shin splints, then using a cycling app to help prepare a non-running training program could be just the break your body needs and is a good alternative to shelling out lots of money for a running coach.

A Word From Our Coach

Running your first mile is a big milestone for any runner. It is a distance most beginner runners find challenging at first but will get easier to finish. You’d be surprised how much improvement you will notice with only a few weeks of practice as long as you’re consistent.

If you are already an experienced runner who is just looking to finish a mile faster, then trying some of the training exercises mentioned in this article will help get you there.

Always keep in mind that running is a high-impact sport. Be sure to fit enough rest days into your program to prevent injury and give your body the time it needs to recover after strenuous exercise.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to improve your fitness level in order to improve your mile time or just finally finish your first mile without needing a break, the tips in this article can help you get there.

Things like correcting your running form, buying new runners, cross-training, and switching up your training plan can all make a big impact on your strength and endurance.

All of which will help you improve your mile time and help you nail your first mile.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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