Are you wondering how to run a mile – and finish – without taking a break?
Maybe you are a bit out of shape, so a full mile seems impossible.
But the truth is, everyone starts out with running just one mile. It doesn’t matter if you are simply trying to get in shape for the summer, or if you are a pro runner bouncing back from a break.
It seems daunting, but it’s very much doable. So, before you lace up those tennies, let’s run through a few quick pointers for your very first mile! It’s not as scary as it feels.
Before you head out for that first mile, take a moment to evaluate your current fitness level.
How out of shape are you?
Are you a brand-new runner? Or have you run before? When was the last time you did cardio?
It’s important to know your fitness level before attempting a mile. It will be so much easier for someone who was in shape and working out three months ago, as compared to someone who hasn’t exercised for three years!
Most people who have lost their running fitness or are out of shape, fall into one of three categories:
- A little out of shape: You stay physically active by working out or doing sports a few times a week but going for a run feels like the worst thing in the world!
- Out of shape: You can easily perform physical tasks, such as painting, cleaning, or yard work. But any type of exercise feels like a struggle and is exhausting.
- Very out of shape: You have a hard time doing any kind of physical activity.
Knowing where you fall will help you to set realistic goals, when running that first mile.
Have a plan and be patient
Create a plan before you tackle that mile. Don’t expect to just lace up your shoes, crank up the tunes and kill it!
You will be setting yourself up for disappointment if expect to run your first mile without taking any breaks. Many new runners make this mistake.
Runners who have impractical expectations often get burnt out, from doing too much too soon. They find themselves disappointed with their results and aren’t happy.
And they also set themselves up for injury.
Having unrealistic expectations doesn’t help you to finish your mile, but it does make it easier for you to quit.
So, set a goal before you get started. And remember, the more out of shape you are, the longer it will take you to get back into shape.
That is okay. Don’t get discouraged. Create a plan, stay patient, and be persistent.
You will run that mile.
Walk or Jog First
Don’t run right away, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve done any kind of intense workout.
It’s important to start with walking or slow jogging first because you need to get comfortable with mild cardio before cranking it up to something as intense as running. Take the time to ease into it.
Work up to being able to complete a mile walking. Once you get that down, you can try breaking into a slow jog. Then, alternate, between walking and the slow jog, until you finish the mile.
And if you must take breaks, that is okay! Babies don’t start life by sprinting around the house! They have to start with a crawl and work up to a sprint.
So do you.
Start off slow and short
Also, don’t try to walk or run that first mile in its entirety. Start slow and short.
Many runners start off too fast and try to cover the entire distance. They try to train at crazy fast paces. And then, instead of finishing, they give up halfway through the run.
If they do somehow miraculously finish, they end up incredibly sore the next day, because their body wasn’t trained to perform in that way.
It didn’t have time to work up to that run.
Then they are so sore, they don’t run at all the rest of the week.
We aren’t trying to break a world record here! There’s no need to start out so hard and fast.
Our goal is to simply finish and to feel good doing it.
If you are new to running, start with just 3 to 5 minutes for the first few days or weeks. Keep your run slow, almost to a jog. And don’t worry about the distance you cover.
Just work on being able to run for a few minutes at a time. The rest will come later.
Walk-Run and Jog-Run Method
The best way to get used to running is to start with the walk-run method. It’s a safe, easy way to get used to running and adding mileage.
Even seasoned runners will use the walk-run method, especially to add miles when training for a race.
When using the walk-run method, you basically combine both walking and running, to train your body to cover the distance.
You can start out walking and add a few running or jogging intervals. Or you can start out running and add a few walking intervals. Either way works.
This helps you to get comfortable with running, builds endurance and motivates you to keep going. Plus, because you are building up slowly, you are giving your muscles and bones time to adjust to the training. So, your risk of injury is less.
To use the walk-run method, start by walking or jogging for 2 minutes and then run for 2 minutes. Then slow it back down to a walk or a jog for 2 minutes.
You decide the ratio. Some people start with a 1:7 ratio. They run one minute, and then walk seven.
Whatever ratio you start with, slowly shorten it as you build endurance and get fit.
Tips and tricks to finish a mile without stopping
Actually completing a mile without stopping can be hard. But there are some physical adjustments that you can implement, to make it easier. They don’t come naturally, so you will want to practice them on your shorter runs.
Perfect your running form
On your shorter runs, work on your running form or technique. Fixing your form can make you run faster.
But more importantly, it can make you run more efficiently. This is good because then it takes your body less energy to cover that mile. That means you are less tired.
Some simple things you can do to fix your form are:
- Look forward, not down
- Strike the ground with the middle front of your foot, not your heel
- Reduce bouncing
Some people have a bit of a bounce in their step, even when they are running. To see if you do, pay attention to whether you move up and down just a bit, rather than just straight forward, while you are running.
Perfect your breathing
New runners tend to have no control over their breathing. They usually end up taking in short, inefficient breathes.
Instead, practice deep breathing.
This is also called belly breathing, or, more scientifically, diaphragmatic breathing.
This type of breathing lets you maximize your oxygen intake while running.
Deep breathing engages your diaphragm, which creates more room in your chest cavity, allowing your lungs to fully expand.
You can take in more oxygen, which in turn delivers more oxygen to your muscles. This makes you less tired and lets you finish the run without feeling exhausted.
To use deep breathing, start by practicing at home. Lay down on the ground or the couch and place your hands on your stomach.
Breathe in and out very deliberately. Focus on pushing all the air out of your lungs.
You should be able to see your hands rise and fall with each breath. You should be able to feel your breathing under your hands as well.
When you’ve got it, try it running. (Obviously, don’t put your hands on your belly while running.)
Practice deep breaths while running. Breath both in and out, through both your nose and your mouth. And try to totally empty your lungs with each breath.
It’ll take some getting used to, but once you master it, it’ll help you to finish that mile feeling energized, not wiped.
Focus on your mindset
It’s easy to pump yourself up for this first mile.
But it’s harder to keep that enthusiasm going after the first quarter!
So, don’t think about it!
Rather than focusing on the entire mile, break it down into four chunks. Focus on finishing this next quarter of a mile. Don’t even worry about the quarter after that.
Create little mental check points – each quarter mile is a check point. When you reach the check point, do a little mental victory dance!
And then focus on the next check point – the next quarter of a mile.
You don’t need to see the whole mile in your mind’s eye to finish it. Just a quarter at a time.
Doing this creates smaller, manageable goals. You know you can run a quarter of a mile – you’ve accomplished that already.
So, that knowledge and success motivates you to continue.
Until, before you know it, you’ve just run a mile.
Running a mile without walking is hard. You need to be in decent physical shape to finish a mile without stopping.
So, before getting started, evaluate your fitness level. Then, plan on starting out slow and building up to a mile.
Start with shorter distances and slower paces. Slow jogs and walks are a great place to start.
After you’ve mastered that, slowly add in running or jogging intervals. Use the run-walk method to train your body. Doing this will help you to build endurance without hurting yourself.
Be patient and consistent! It will take time. Don’t expect to just tackle it without the proper training.
Running a mile is challenging, but if you believe you can, you will!