Mile repeats are a simple but effective running session that can be tailored to meet any specific race or training goal.
So whether you are training for a 5K, half marathon or marathon, with a few alterations to the number of repetitions, the level of intensity or the terrain, the session can match your goal.
The mile as a distance is long enough to build endurance and strength, but also short enough for seasoned runners to integrate into speed training.
Mile repeats are long enough to be mentally challenging, requiring you to focus and stay motivated when the going gets tough, an excellent running session in the build up to a race, especially for marathon runners.
Depending on the goal of your training here are two variations of mile repeats that you can try.
Goal: Endurance and Stamina
To build endurance and stamina early in the season a tempo run has long been a favourite amongst more experienced runners. But not all runners, especially novice runners can maintain an even fast pace for a long period of time. However, to get the same physiological benefits with less fatigue you can break up a tempo into mile repeats with short recoveries.
Running the mile repeats at 10K to half marathon race pace with short recoveries is an excellent twist on a standard tempo run that novice runners or experienced runners can do to provide the strength needed for the faster sessions further down the line in training.
After a 15 minute warm up, run four to six-mile repeats at your half marathon pace, or if you are a novice runner try half marathon race pace plus 20 seconds a mile.
One minute easy running for recovery between each repeat.
The aim of the session is to run each mile close to the same pace, so if you need to take a two-minute recovery between reps, do so.
Goal: Get Faster
To run faster for a given effort you must increase your VO2 max, meaning increasing the amount of oxygen your body can take in and deliver to your muscles.
In training, runners would normally achieve this with interval sessions, spending as much time as possible at 90 to 100 percent of their current VO2 max. The pace to reach this mark is in the range of 3K to 5K race pace, and experienced runners can normally hold 90 to 100 percent VO2 max for 12 to 15 minutes.
For novice runners or those new to speed training, this pace can be difficult to reach and maintain.
But the good news is, you can still sufficiently target VO2 max by running mile repeats at a more maintainable 5K to 10K pace.
Following a 15 minute warm up run three to four-mile repeats at 5K to 10K pace, decide on whether to stay closer to 5K or 10K pace based on your current fitness levels.
Two to three minutes easy running for recovery between each repeat.
How frequently you should do this session depends on your race goal. If your focus is a 5K or 10K race alternate these mile repeats with your other speed work every third session. For marathoner runners, once every two weeks is more than adequate.