Are You Having Trouble Running Faster Than A 10 Minute Mile?
Then you aren’t alone.
I started off in 2010, running 11 minute miles and I quickly progressed into 10 minute miles not long after.
Then I kinda stayed at that level for the next 18 months without any real progress. At this point in time I was running 2 hour 15 minute half marathons and 5 hour full marathons. I wasn’t enjoying running anymore.
In 2013 however I made a major breakthrough past the 10 minute mile. My persistence paid off and I learned to enjoy running again.
How I Made Progress Past The 10 Minute Mile
- I admitted to myself that I wasn’t making any progress – I could see from my Garmin Connect logs that my run pace was stagnating. It was difficult to accept that I wasn’t getting any better, but once I acknowledged it I made plans to improve.
- I started running across roads – I was never fond of speed work as a runner, but I kinda knew I had to do some work with my pace otherwise I’d never improve. My answer? Run fast across roads! I wouldn’t pelt across roads like a frightened deer or anything, I’d wait until everything was clear and sprint as fast as I could for a few seconds at a time. Doing this improved my average pace per run and I enjoyed it too.
- I stopped considering myself a plodder/jogger – I had accepted that I was never gonna make any progress with my speed, so I stopped trying to get faster and relaxed into runs. I became a plodder. This was OK for the first few months but eventually I grew weary of not progressing. So I stopped putting myself down and pretended I was a runner until I made it there!
- I ran more hills – Instead of just focusing on pure speed work I quickly learned to love hill running too. I started by climbing perhaps 80m over an 8 mile run. This increase to 130m over a 10 mile run. Now every Saturday I try to go for 300m over a distance of 13 miles. Hill training strengthens your legs and makes running on flat a lot easier. This gives you the strength and the confidence to run faster for longer.
- I stopped looking at my watch so often – When you start running with a Garmin Forerunner the tendency is to check it every 100m for your current pace. This can hinder your performance. Sometimes it is better to just forget your watch and let your legs do the talking!
- Don’t worry about breaking a 10 minute mile on every single split – If running 9:xx min/miles hurts at the moment then it can be daunting trying to stick to that pace. When I was first trying to break the 10 minute mile consistently, I undertook progression jogs where I’d run the first mile in 10:20 and focus on taking 10 seconds off each mile until I finished on a sprint.
- Keep positive about speed work – See each little sprint you do as an investment into your future as a runner. Over time even a small amount of speed bursts will pay dividends and you’ll even start to enjoy running faster. I found that the only reason I didn’t enjoy jogging faster originally was that it hurt my body a lot. You will get used to it if you keep trying!
Using Progression Runs To Run Faster Than A 10 Minute Mile
One great way of finally breaking the 10 minute mile is to use a progression run where you start off at a slower speed such as a 10:30 minute mile.
On each consecutive mile you can run a little bit faster until your average pace is below the 10:00 min/mile.
I’ve found that if I run more slowly to start with then I settle into the run much more quickly and am less likely to crash at the end.
If you’re just starting out with running it can really help your confidence to remain in full control of a run. That’s definitely an advantage of the progression run technique.
Typically what I’ll do in the last half mile of these runs is to run as fast as possible to the finish line. Let’s say that I’m averaging a 10:10 minute/mile on a 5 mile run.
Even dropping to an 8 minute mile in the last quarter of a mile will bring my overall pace average down below a 10:00 minute mile.