How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Exercise and Diet

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile

Many people have racked up miles as they jog or run each day, but very few, apart from professional athletes, have attempted to run a timed mile. While it doesn’t seem like a long distance, running it in five minutes or less is not easy at all. It takes preparation, both mentally and physically, and eating the right diet. It requires you to train your body to endure long distances and to strengthen your muscles while improving your cardiovascular abilities. If you need to know how to run a 5 minute mile, read on to know what is required of you, from diet to exercises.

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile ?

Preparing your body

As with a normal race, preparing your body for the 5 minute mile is the first step that is absolutely critical to conquering this task. You should start preparing your body in advance so that it can get used to the idea of running a mile in five or less minutes. Your body, after the training, should be able to endure much longer distances than it is used to. Your muscles should be stronger, and your cardiovascular system should be able to endure a challenging exercise session. This will train your body to be able to finish the 5 minute mile.

1.    Develop a proper training schedule

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile

The first step to preparing your body is to come up with a proper training schedule. You cannot exercise well to beat the five minute mile without a proper plan, as you need to know what exercises to do on what day for maximum results. For the best results, your training schedule should incorporate a variety of exercises for the best results.

2.    Eat healthily

Exercises are not the only thing required to get into shape for the five minute mile – you also need to eat healthily. You should eat foods that give your body energy and help it recover after training. The foods you should eat include:

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile
  • Whole wheat pasta – it will provide your body with the necessary carbs for maximizing the body’s muscle glycogen stores.
  • Proteins – you should get your proteins from foods such as eggs, chicken, salmon, and sweet potatoes for optimum muscle growth. The protein found in foods such as salmon has omega-3 fatty acids which improve your heart health and performance.
  • Green leafy vegetables – they contain vitamins such as A, B6, C, and K that have many benefits to the body such as supporting a strong immune system and improving your cardiovascular health. They include kale, spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard.

What to eat when training

The number of calories you should consume each day will depend on the duration and intensity of your workout. For you every mile you run, you will burn an average of 100 calories. For your daily meals, aim for the following breakdown:

  • 60-70% of the calories should be from carbohydrates such as grains, pasta, and bread.
  • 20-30% of the calories should be from healthy fat sources such as avocados and nuts.
  • 10-15% of the calories should be from protein such as fish, chicken, beef, and beans.

Experiment with various fluid-replacement strategies to know which one works for you when you will be doing the race. Do you prefer water or sports drinks?

Two weeks to race day

  • Add more complex carbohydrates to your diet. They are found in all plant-based foods and take longer to be digested by the body. They are available as stored energy to be used when needed, and include whole-grain bread, brown rice, vegetables, and whole wheat pasta.
  • Drink lots of water. This will prevent dehydration, which would otherwise leave you feeling sluggish.
  • Take lots of iron-rich foods. If you are iron-deficient, you may be anemic, feel tired and weak, and be more susceptible to infection. Increase your iron intake by adding lean red meats and leafy greens into your diet.

3-4 days before the race

  • Increase your carbs intake to 70%, with 20% being fats and 10% proteins.
  • Increase your consumption of complex carbohydrates, as they will give your body the fuel and energy it needs to get through the race.

The night before the race

  • Eat a nutritious meal that is composed of whole grains, vegetables (grilled or steamed) or a salad, and a small amount of protein.
  • Don’t try out new food; stick to what is familiar to prevent any chances of a stomach upset.
  • Drink lots of water.

Race day

  • Eat a healthy breakfast that is composed of 400-600 calories to top up your energy stores. You could try oatmeal or any other cold cereal with low-fat milk. Ensure you eat familiar foods only.
  • Drink lots of water for hydration.
  • Avoid fatty foods as they could make you feel full, nauseated, or lethargic.

3.    Work on your general body fitness

General body fitness is important if you want to take on the 5 minute mile successfully. You shouldn’t concentrate on running exercises only; you should work to get your body fit to enable you to run faster and reduce any chances of an injury. Some of the exercises you can do include:

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Exercise
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Exercise
  • Planks – they strengthen your core, shoulders, and lower back, which are all areas important for you to run fast. Do 3-5 reps of 45-second planks.
  • Kettlebell squats – they will strengthen your glutes, leg muscles, and core. Do 3 sets of 10-12 planks.
  • Jumping jacks and frog jumps – they have several benefits such as improving your cardiovascular health and increasing stamina.
  • Yoga – Yoga helps improve your flexibility and recovery time.
  • How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Yoga
    How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Yoga

Training on a treadmill

When using a treadmill to train, you should begin at a slow speed (a fast walk), and increase slowly till you hit your top speed.

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Treadmill
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Treadmill
  • Start at zero incline, at a brisk walk. Once you are comfortable with the speed, increase it up one level at a time, till you are running at a pace that is comfortable. Run at this pace for about a minute, then lower it to your walking speed for five minutes, and keep on walking till you hit the one-mile mark on the treadmill. Keep on increasing the time you spend running until you run for the entire mile.
  • Pace yourself to build up to a mile. Start by running shorter distances, say a ¼ of a mile, and gradually increase this till you are running the entire mile. Your pace during this entire time should be constant.
  • Add intensity to your workout by training with hill inclines on the treadmill. Alternate between running on zero incline for a minute and walking on the incline for five minutes when starting, and gradually decrease the time spent walking on the incline and increase the time spent running on the incline by 2 minutes each time, till you run the entire 15 minutes on the incline.

Training on the road

To start you off, you could do some interval training, by doing sprint intervals (400m and 600m) or hill climbs twice a week.

Doing sprint intervals

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Training on the road
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Training on the road
  • 400m sprint intervals – start by sprinting 400 meters six times, and rest for one minute between the sprints. Start running slowly in the first rep, increasing your speed with each rep until the last one is fastest. You can also choose to run at an even speed for all sprints, but the last one should be faster than the rest.
  • 600m sprint intervals – this is done the same way as the 600-meter sprints, but do eight reps with a two-minute rest between the reps. As you advance with your training, you can reduce the rest time to one minute or increase the distance to 800m with three minutes of rest.
  • Hill climbs  

     They help improve your speed and power. Find a hill that would normally take you about 5 minutes to climb. Jog up ¾ of the hill then sprint the last ¼. Jog back down the hill then repeat the exercise 5 times. If you cannot find a hill, you can use a treadmill, and increase the incline each minute. Alternate the hill climbs with the sprint intervals.

Do some distance runs and alternate them with the sprint intervals/hill climbs (do them on the weeks you are not doing the sprint intervals). Distance runs help you build a solid base of aerobic conditioning that will push your body hard enough such that you can complete a 5 minute mile.

  • Do 5-6 runs that you can finish in an average of about 8 minutes per mile.
  • Run several days in each week to get your body used to the distances, and record all your run times.
  • As you continue with your training, aim to improve your time to about 7 minutes per mile.

Here is a sample workout timetable you can follow when training for a five minute mile.

 – Treadmills ( week 1)

–  6x400m and treadmills on alternating days, with one day of rest ( week 2)

 – 8x400m and treadmills on alternating days, with one day of rest ( week 3)

– Hill climbs, with one day of rest ( week 4)

 – Distance runs ( week 5)

 – 6x600m and treadmills on alternating days, with one day of rest ( week 6)

 – 8x600m and treadmills on alternating days, with one day of rest ( week 7 )

 – Distance runs ( week 8)

Mistakes you may make when training and how to avoid them

  • Not running enough – if you want to be able to run a 5 minute mile, you should run at least 30 miles a week. This will improve your stamina to take on the race.
  • Too many runs done at race pace – to build a strong fitness baseline, you should do a majority of your workouts at a relaxed pace. As a rule of the thumb, 80% of your runs should be easy ones, and the remaining 20% should be sprints, hard tempo runs, or hill climbs.
  • Starting out too fast – you need to run at a consistent pace to avoid getting too tired in the middle of the race such that you cannot complete it. You need to develop this consistency during training so that on the race day, you are able to pace yourself well.

Race day

How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Race Day
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Race Day

If you have trained well, you should be confident of taking on the 5 minute mile successfully. Some tips that are handy before the race include:

  • Ensure you stretch properly. This will help prevent injuries or cramps as you run. Stretch your back, quads, adductors, hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes. Stretch after the race too, to cool down your body.
  • Prepare yourself mentally by breathing slowly, relaxing, and visualizing yourself finishing the race in under five minutes. This will put you in the right mindset that will energize you.
  • Do some pre-race warm up. This shouldn’t be too much so that you do not tire yourself. You could try a few quick sprints and jumping jacks to get your body in motion and your heart rate up.
  • Remember to pace yourself well. Starting out too fast will only tire you fast. You can push yourself when you are near the finish line so that you finish on a high. Once you have crossed the finish line, jog for about one or two minutes, slowing your pace till you are walking comfortably.
How to Run a 5 Minute Mile: Exercise and Diet
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