How to Run a Mile Without Stopping

Woman running outside

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Running a mile without stopping is one of the first challenges new runners face. It takes time to build up your endurance. Many joggers start off with good intentions but end up frustrated when they have to walk.

These strategies can help you learn how to run a mile without getting out of breath. Once you learn what to do (and what not to do), running for longer stretches will become easier.

Follow a Training Plan

If you are new to running, it can help to follow a training plan for beginners to provide a road map for your journey. It is also helpful to find a route that isn't too challenging and follow basic safety guidelines to keep your program on track.

Train With a Schedule

Many beginner runners find that following a training schedule allows them to build endurance safely and easily. A specific program will gradually increase distance and intensity so that you avoid overuse injuries. Following a plan can also help you to stay motivated, because you are adding challenges at a manageable rate.

Many 1-mile plans involve the run/walk method. Try alternating between one minute of running and one minute of walking, or use set distances, like half of a track or a tenth of a mile. Then, gradually increase the distance of your run intervals.

Start With a Flat Route

If you are running in a neighborhood, the courses you are targeting for your mile run may include an incline. Some runners attack hills, assuming they should just try to get them over with as quickly as possible.

When you are first learning how to run a mile, your focus should be on increasing distance rather than intensity.

Do your best to find the flattest route possible at first, until you are comfortable running a mile. Once you've got the 1-mile distance under your belt, you can gradually add hills.

As you approach the incline, ease your pace. This will help ensure that you don’t exhaust yourself and have to start walking. Tell yourself that you'll slow down a little on the uphill, but you'll end up going a bit faster on the downhill. Keep swinging your arms and let them help pump you up the hill.

Keep Safety in Mind

Running is generally a safe sport, but even a mild trip or fall can derail your program and set you back several weeks. When you begin a new program, it is smart to take basic safety precautions.

While you might like to listen to music, it's not always the safest way to run. If you are running outside, consider leaving your headphones at home. You'll be better able to focus on the road and hear any traffic noises (from cars, other runners, or cyclists), as well as other important cues from your environment (such as animals).

You also need to make sure that you're visible—especially if you run in the early morning or in the evening after dark. Wear reflective clothing or shoes so that drivers, cyclists, and other pedestrians can see you.

Always run with identification. Accidents can happen, and if they do, it's easier for first responders to care for you if your ID is on hand.

Practice Good Form

The way that you run can make a big difference in whether or not you can keep going when you're running a mile. Efficient body mechanics mean that you use less energy and get less winded.

Use Your Breath

Many people assume they need to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth when they run. While that may work for some, it's not always the right approach.

During harder or faster runs, you should breathe deeply but comfortably. For most runners, this means that they breathe in through both the nose and mouth to make sure they get enough oxygen.

With each breath, try to breathe deeply from your belly, not your chest. This can help prevent side stitches.

You might notice that each inhale and exhale falls into a pattern with the steps you take. This is called locomotor-respiratory coupling. For example, for every breath you take, you might land two footstrikes, and for every exhale you might land another two footstrikes. This rhythmic pattern helps your body run more efficiently.

If you feel yourself getting out of breath or have trouble controlling your breathing, you are working too hard and should slow down or walk until you catch your breath.

Practice Good Posture

Keep your shoulders relaxed, down, and back to practice good posture as you run. If you lean forward (a common newbie mistake), you close the chest area, which can make it harder to breathe. You might end up feeling winded much sooner as a result.

By keeping your posture upright, you keep the airways open and breathing will be easier. Every minute or so during your run, do a quick posture scan and make sure that the shoulders aren't creeping up toward your ears and you aren't tipping the front of your body forward. Stay relaxed and elongated through the spine for an efficient stride.

Use Your Arms

As you learn how to run a mile, you'll probably notice that your arms can help lighten your legs' workload. It's smart to use them!

Keep your arms in a relaxed position. They should remain bent at a 90-degree angle and swing gently from the shoulder joint. Try to keep them on the sides of your body rather than crossing over your chest.

If you see that your hands are starting to float in front of your body as you run, you might be leaning too far forward.

The movement of your arms should feel natural, but you'll probably notice a contralateral pattern. That means that when one leg steps forward, the opposite arm glides forward as well. This coordinated arm and leg movement helps to balance and propel your body forward, which means your legs don't have to work as hard.

Slow Your Pace

When you start running, it's very common to run too fast. While you might feel fine in the beginning, you could run out of steam later. Instead, keep your pace under control and you'll find that you can run for much longer.

Everyone's running speed will be slightly different, but you can start by aiming to run at a conversational pace (you should be able to talk in complete sentences as you run). If you find yourself getting out of breath, slow down.

With improved fitness, you’ll be able to increase your speed. For now, it's more important that you build confidence and endurance before increasing pace.

Boost Mental Strength 

Sometimes the key to running longer distances is simply practicing "mind over matter." If you feel like you want to stop, choose an uplifting mantra and repeat it to yourself. Positive self-talk has been shown to help runners and other athletes overcome physical challenges.

A Word From Verywell

Give yourself plenty of time to learn how to run a mile. Try not to compare yourself to others or worry about whether you are running fast enough or increasing your distance quickly. With consistency and persistence, you'll get there.

Once you're confidently running a mile, set a goal to run two miles or sign up for a 5K run and experience the thrill of crossing the finish line.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to run a mile?

    Everyone's running pace is different. When you're first starting out, don't worry about how fast you are running. Make completing the one-mile distance your priority. With time, your running endurance will increase and then you can focus on your pace.

  • How often do I need to run to run a mile without stopping?

    You'll notice that your fitness level increases faster if you run on a consistent schedule. But that doesn't mean that you need to run every day. Try running three days per week and see how it feels. Make adjustments as needed and include other fitness activities in your schedule, such as strength training or yoga.

  • How do I run a mile on the treadmill without stopping?

    Running a mile on a treadmill is similar to running on the road, but on a treadmill you can control the obstacles (such as hills). So you'll want to use the same tips for running indoors as running outdoors, with a few added safety tips to keep your treadmill run safe.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.