How You Can Run a Faster Mile

man running fast uphill

Verywell

Many runners want to know what's considered a good time for running a mile (or kilometer), but it’s tough to answer that question because it’s extremely subjective. Depending on the runner’s age and gender, a “fast” time for a mile or kilometer can vary greatly. It is all relative. Some runners consider a sub-6:00 mile as a big achievement, while others might be thrilled to run a mile under 10:00.

The current world records for the outdoor mile are 3:43.13 for men and 4:12.56 for women. Of course, most runners will never come anywhere close to those times, but they can still work on improving their own personal record for the mile distance.

Mile Times

  • Competitive High School Male: Under 4:00 minutes
  • Competitive High School Female: Under 5:00
  • Male World Record: 3:43.13
  • Female World Record: 4:12.56

Mile Times for High School Students

High school track and cross country runners are often curious about how their mile time would compare to their fellow high school athletes. In most parts of the U.S., high school boys who can run a sub-4:00 mile can be very competitive on high school track and cross country teams (the most elite can run an under 3:60 mile). The same is true for high school girls who can run a sub-5:00 mile; fastest times are below 4:40.

Mile Times for Your Age Group

Age-graded results allow you to compare your race times to the standard for your age and sex. You can use this age-grading calculator to figure out your age-graded race time to get a comparison of how your finishing time compares with others.

Keep in mind that everyone's abilities vary, so don't get too caught up in comparing your mile time to other runners'. A great thing about racing a specific distance is that you can compete against yourself, rather than others. You can test yourself by running a mile and then repeat the test after several weeks to see if you've improved. If you want to get a true picture of your progress, try to test yourself on the same course, since you’ll run a faster mile on a flat course, compared to a hilly one. So you can compete against yourself and measure your own progress rather than worry about other people's mile times.

You can also work on improving your pace per mile when you're doing runs longer than a mile. When running on a treadmill or using a GPS device or running app, you can measure your pace per mile and also see your average pace. As your fitness and endurance improve, you'll be able to shave time off your pace. The faster your mile time is, the faster your 5K, 10K, half or full marathon will be.

Army Standards for a Two-Mile Run

In 2020, the Army's Basic Training Physical Fitness Test (PFT) was replaced by the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The two-mile run requirement is used as part of an overall fitness score that is used to calculate recruits' eligibility to graduate from Basic Training. To earn a top score on the two-mile run, it must be completed in 12:45. However, a two-mile time of 18 minutes still qualifies soldiers for a heavy physical demand unit. The minimum score for a solider in a moderate physical demand unit is 21:07.

How to Run a Faster Mile

If you're hoping to improve your mile time, there are plenty of ways to get faster. Some training techniques, like focusing on hills, doing speedwork, or paying attention to your stride, can help. Mental tricks may also be useful to help push through the discomfort that comes with racing hard.

Your approach may also differ if you're a beginner or an experienced runner. Once you can run a mile without stopping, you can work on improving your time. With the right training, you will.

Running Other Distances

You can also improve your mile time by running longer distances as part of your running routine. Make one of your weekly runs a longer distance than your other runs. You may choose to focus on your mile time one season and then a longer race the next season. You will be amazed to see how all of your times will improve. 

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Article Sources

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  1. Guinness World Records. Fastest run one mile (male). 2020.

  2. Guinness World Records. Fastest run one mile (female). 2020.

  3. ACFT Score Chart. ACFT scoring chart - ACFT standards. 2020.