How Long Does it take to Run a Mile – and How to Run Your Fastest?

Updated: October 28, 2023

October 28, 2023 in Training guides

Have you often wondered how long it takes to run a mile? Have you wondered what the elite runners do, what different age groups run, and what is considered a good or average time? This blog will examine how long it takes to run a mile for a range of individuals.

Are you ready to take on the challenge of running your fastest mile? While intimidating, it is achievable with some practice and dedication. To help you get on your way, we will look at some steps and tips to maximize your mile time and ensure you cross that finish line feeling proud.

What is the mile?

A mile is a unit of length. It measures 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards and is equal to 1.6 kilometers. The term "mile" comes from the Latin word for "thousand" (mille) and was first used in England around 1593.

The history of running a mile dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, where races were held over various distances. Over time, the modern mile distance became standardized as the most popular running event in English-speaking countries.

The world record for running one mile is held by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, who ran the distance in 3:43.13 minutes on July 7th, 1999. 

Average mile times

The average time depends on several factors, for example, age group and if you are male or female. Also, it is dependent on your experience in the running. For example, the average amongst a group of trained athletes is much faster than if you take a population who have never run before.

The key is improving the time and still aiming to run your fastest mile, we will explore this in the guide. As an experienced runner, I know what running a quicker mile than most feels like.

Remember, running speed is very individual, rather than setting a target based on any averages with depending factors. It's best to set a benchmark and then look to improve.

How to run a faster mile time

Are you a runner who has been wanting to beat their personal best in the mile? Have you always wanted to run faster but were unsure where to start? This guide is designed to help you learn how to achieve your running goals and maximize your fitness level and potential for achieving a faster mile time.

You may be more familiar with running further, for example, 5k or 10k, and know your average mile time when running these distances. Focusing on the mile can improve the average mile run times during a race. Many experienced runners do this when they drop down in distances to increase their speed before moving up to their preferred distance. 

Step 1 - Set a benchmark

How long does it take to run a mile: Set Benchmark

If you are a beginner runner and have never run a mile before, then it's essential to have a benchmark to start from. So you know how to tailor your training. Therefore if this is your first time completing a mile, set your GPS running watch to flash at one mile or head down to your local running track.

If you are in the bracket of an elite runner or have trained with advanced runners, you may prefer to be in a race to set your benchmark.

Step 2 - Create a training plan

How long does it take to run a mile: Create a training plan

If you have been running for a while, you should be familiar with creating a training plan. If not, try some example workouts such as 10 x 400m with one min rest aiming for the pace you want to run at. For example, if you aim to run a mile in 8 minutes. Then aim to do each 400m in around 2 minutes.

Step 3 - Think of you running form

How long does it take to run a mile: Running form

When running, like many sports, the technique is essential. It can get overlooked with running. But if you can practice running with proper running form, particularly when tired at your running pace. Then you will be more likely to be able to hold in when you attempt to run your fastest mile time.

It is important to remain relaxed and have a slight forward lean, using your arms efficiently to propel you forward. Ask a coach to watch you complete a workout so they can give tips specific to you while you run and what changes when you start to fatigue.

Step 4 - Focus on Recovery

How long does it take to run a mile: Recovery

When training for your fastest mile, putting some serious thought and focusing on recovery is crucial.

This could be what you eat straight after a workout, how much sleep you get, and the sleep quality of having a regular sports massage. It could be running very slowly on a smooth, forgiving terrain like grass.

Remember, whether you are on your running journey, recovery is crucial in improving and maximizing your running performance.

Step 5 - The perfect shoes

How long does it take to run a mile: shoes

Finding shoes that suit your requirements is vital in helping you run a fast mile. If you are an experienced runner, you may decide to do your mile on a running track; therefore, you may want to choose a pair of spikes.

If you prefer running on the road, you could check out a vast range of super shoes on the market now.

If you are a beginner runner just getting started, you may just want to pick a general pair that you can use for various runs.

Step 6 - Focus on the mental aspect

How long does it take to run a mile: Mental aspect

Running is just as much a mental exercise as a physical one. To help improve your mile time, practice mental strength by visualizing yourself achieving your goals and focusing on the positive.

This will help increase your confidence and keep you motivated in your running.

Step 7 - Find support

How long does it take to run a mile: Find support

When you go to try and set your fastest mile, look to see if your friends and family will support you. The support and atmosphere created can help you run your best mile time.

You may also want to join a running club and ask faster runners to help pace you to your best-timed mile.

Key considerations for running your fastest mile

When you are thinking, how long does it take to run a mile? You need to break it down into two factors running cadence and stride length. Biomechanically they are the two key factors that affect your running speed.

We can work on this by improving your power. For example, this can help stride length. Hill workouts and strength training can be key ways of increasing your stride length.

With running cadence, practice, shorter "strides," 100m fast turnover, or you could also do interval training over space on the treadmill to get your legs turning over fast.

Alternatives to running your fastest mile

If you have completed the challenge and are now happy, you know how long the answer to how long does it take to run a mile. You may try a different distance in the running, for example, a 5k or 10k, or you may want to go down distance and run a fast 800 meters as this speed improvement can help your average mile run time over time.

Or you can complete a mile differently, for example, on a bike or swimming. The time you aim for over the various disciplines will be hugely different.

Wrapping up - So How Long Does it Take to Run a Mile?

The current mile world record is incredible, but so are some of the times for the various age groups. However, when thinking about how long does it take to run a mile, remember the critical point is that this is specific to you.

The time available to train and experience also comes into play.

With consistent training, you will be well on your way to running faster. Remember to build up your training slowly; running consistently is very important. So you need to ensure your injury risk is as low as possible, which is why recovery is so important.

Using the steps, we hope you will be well on your way to running your fastest mile time and run happy and healthy. Good luck, and run strong.


What is a 5K in miles?

A 5k is 3.1 miles; this distance is a typical race distance, particularly for beginners doing their first event. If you want to aim for the 5k, it is still worth improving your mile time.

Generally, it should feel easier when you come to run your next 5k, if you can improve your best mile time. Check out the tips in the article above to run your fastest mile.

Can I run for only 10 minutes?

Yes, running even for just 10 minutes is beneficial, particularly if you are starting out with running. Try and mix up running and walking on a loop or out and back close to home. That way, you can gradually increase the time and distance you run for.

 Remember to build up slowly. The most important thing with running and improving is consistency; avoiding injury by not overtraining will allow you to improve gradually.

About the author 


James is an elite distance runner and has also raced triathlon for a number of years. He has a certification in swimming coaching, and a passion to help all athletes succeed in finding a balance within sport and life.