A sustainable 8 minutes mile pace is a decent milestone for every runner. Sometimes it gets easy, and sometimes it takes a month or two. I had a prior experience with sports, so I could run one mile in under eight minutes from day one. Although running a marathon at the same speed took me three years. This article will explain how to train for an 8-minute mile on distances from 1 mile up to a marathon:
- How fast is 8 min a mile?
- Who can run an 8-minute mile?
- How long will it take to train for an 8-minute mile?
- How to train to run 8 min a mile? Types of runs and exercises
- What equipment is needed to train and run 8 min mile?
- Pro tips for an 8-minute mile
- What not to do? Hidden pitfalls of an 8-min mile path
How Fast is 8 Min a Mile?
With the 8-minute mile pace, you will be faster than 50% of runners in an average public long-distance race. In the table below, you can find a target time and a relative position in the race result list, which you can reach with an 8-minute mile pace on 5k, 10k, half-marathon, and marathon running races.
Who Can Run an 8-minute Mile?
As was covered in the previous article, every beginner runner can train to run one mile in 8 minutes. Although to keep an eight-minute mile pace at longer distances, like 10k or a half-marathon, a lot of physical strength, endurance, and training is required.
How Long Will It Take to Train For an 8-minute Mile?
The time it takes to train your body for an 8-minute mile pace is from 2 months to 3 years, depending on the desirable distances and the runner's initial physical fitness. The shorter distance and the fitter you are—the less time is required to train for an 8-minute mile pace.
1 mile at an 8-minute mile pace. It will take up to 2 months of training to run one mile at an 8-minute-per-mile speed. You should train three times per week every other day.
5k at an 8-minute mile pace. If you can run 3.1 miles at any pace, preparing for an 8-minute per mile will take 6-8 months. You should train 3-4 times a week with a rest day between workouts.
10k at an 8-minute mile pace. If you can run 6.2 miles without transitioning to walking, training for an 8-minute mile will take 8-12 months. You should train 3-4 times per week every other day and complete 20-30 miles weekly.
Half-marathon at 8-minute mile pace. If you can jog 13.1 miles non-stop, preparing for an 8-minute-per-mile speed will take 12-24 months. You should follow a comprehensive training program and log 30-40 miles weekly.
Marathon at an 8-minute mile pace. If you've already completed your first marathon, training for an 8-minute mile at a marathon will take 1.5-3 years. You should train consistently, follow an advanced running plan, have active recovery, and run 40-50 miles weekly.
How to Train to Run 8 Min a Mile? Types of Runs and Exercises
To run at an 8-minutes per mile, you need to improve your body’s strength, endurance, and speed. The dedicated exercises will bring your running to the next level.
Enhancing strength. Runners actively employ only two muscle groups: legs and abs. Strength exercises will pump these muscles and prepare them for an 8-minute mile pace.
Here is a list of the exercises tailored to legs:
- Walking lunges
- Jump Squats
- One-Legged Heel Raise
- Lying Leg raises
Complete the exercises one by one and repeat the cycle 4-7 times. Mixing the abs and leg exercises gives every body part a gradual load and enough recovery time. Strength exercises 1-2 times a week are enough for noticeable progress.
Improving endurance. A long run is a vital weekly workout if you train for a long-distance race. Usually, runners schedule longs for Sunday—the same day that most races take place. As the title states, Sunday training should be the longest of your week, ideally up to 1.5-2.5 hours, with the average heart rate under 145 bpm (Zone 2). No worries if you can't run for 1.5 hours yet—make it the most extended weekly training and slowly increase the time and distance week by week.
Increasing speed. A speed workout once a week is essential for an 8-minute mile pace. The best exercise to boost your body’s speed is interval running.
It is a combination of fast and slow segments. The short sections are usually 3-4 times longer than the recovery ones. Run the quick parts at a threshold heart rate zone, and for the recovery ones, do as slowly as you can. Here are the most popular types of interval workouts:
- 1 minute running at a challenging pace, afterward walking 60 seconds
- 3 minutes at your tempo pace, followed by a 90-second jog as slowly as you can
- 1/2 mile fast running with 1000 feet recovery
- Run 1 mile fast and then transition to a slow pace for 2000 feet
- 10 minutes at a rapid pace, then jogging for 2 minutes
Every high-intense workout should start with a 2-3 minute slow run to warm up muscles and finish with the same to cool your body down. Speed workout more than once a week leads to fatigue and injuries — do not overdo it.
What Equipment is Needed to Train for 8-Minute Mile?
Sports equipment shouldn't be a blocker for you at any time. With 8 min a mile pace, you need only comfortable sneakers and a smartphone.
Running shoes. Any old and ugly sneakers you are running in right now are much better than new and pretty ones on the store shelf. Versatile daily training shoes from Brooks, Saucony, Nike, Asics, Adidas, or New Balance will be perfect. At this point, you won't get a boost from carbon plates and sophisticated materials. So, avoid marketing fuss and expensive technologies.
A fitness tracker or a mobile app makes tracking distance, time, and pace easier. You can use your phone with a free running app, like Strava, Runkeeper, and Runtastic, or a fitness tracker from any brand.
Pro Tips for an 8-minute Mile Pace
Track your training. Keep a sports diary or buy a subscription with a running app to record your weekly mileage and achievements. Knowing specific numbers will help you better plan training and distribute effort.
Review your diet. Since the runner’s body burns a lot of calories, you should compensate for them, ideally with healthy carbs. Stay away from running when you are full or hungry.
Drink water more. Drink before a run, after training, and in the middle of a workout. Eliminate the risk of dehydration; otherwise, your energy level will go down, and your muscles will refuse to work.
Get good sleep. Sleep is the best recovery tool. Have at least 7 hours of sleep to reduce fatigue and have enough energy for training.
Rotate the routes. So that training doesn't seem boring. Running near a lake or park is more fun than making circles or wading through traffic. Most runners find it easier to run in the morning and evening.
Stretching. Stretch routing is a vital activity that helps your body recover quicker and prevent injury. Stretch your muscles after each run (not before), on rest days, when you feel DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and perform an especially thorough stretching after races.
Running buddy. Run with someone better than you. You will progress quicker by following the leader, replicating techniques, and getting helpful feedback.
What Not to Do While Training for an 8-min Mile
Run at the same pace each run. Research has shown that progress will take longer when running at the same speed every training. Our bodies require both challenge and recovery to progress quicker.
Challenging your body at each run. Doing your best in the competition is justified; however, jogging closely to the 8-mile pace during training will inevitably bring exhaustion and muscle injuries.
Run every day. If you can't run eight minutes per mile yet, avoid running two days in a row. A rookie mistake is to exhaust your body by jogging every day. In my experience, it does more harm than good; train every other day instead.
Continue regardless of pain or discomfort. There is a fine line between running your best and harming your body. Most runners don't feel the difference. If you feel sudden or unusual pain in muscles or body—it's better to stop and switch to walking. If you don't feel relief in a while or the pain repeats, consult with a physician at your earliest.
Postpone start. Our mind can generate excuses at the speed of thought: bad weather, no time, not in the mood, starving, full, feeling tired, no running shoes, etc. These are the mind games each athlete experiences. Set a distinct goal to run a mile at an 8-minute mile pace, make training your priority, and get yourself outside. Once you're on the street, the excuses will disappear at once.
That's it. I hope you achieve your perfect 8-minute mile soon. Good luck!
Still Have Questions? Here Are the Answers.
What percentage of the population can run an 8-minute mile?
About 6.75% of the US population, or every 15th person in the USA, can run an 8-minute mile or faster. Although, in most public running events, an 8-minute mile pace will get you above half of your competition on the finish list.
What speed is an 8-minute mile?
An 8-minute mile pace equals a speed of 7.50 mph on a treadmill. In kilometers, an 8-minute mile pace equals 4:58 minutes per one km or 12.1 km/h speed on a treadmill.
Are 8 minutes fast for a mile?
Yes, an 8-minute mile is fast. An average person in relatively good shape will run a mile slower, at a 9-10 minutes per mile pace.
Is an 8-minute mile hard?
No, running at an 8-minute mile pace isn't hard. Training to run at an 8-minute mile pace takes from 2 months to 3 years, depending on the desirable distance and your physical fitness.
How fast is an 8-minute mile and a half?
An 8-minute mile and a half refers to a 5:20 minutes per mile pace or 11.3 mph. It is a breakneck pace achieved by advanced runners.
Is a 7-minute mile impressive?
Yes, a 7-minute mile is an impressive result you can be proud of. An average person is good physical fitness runs slower.
What is a decent 1-mile run time?
A decent 1-mile run time is between 8 and 9 minutes. With this speed, you will overtake half of the runners in an average-sized one-mile race.
Learn more about how long should it take to run a mile in our separate article.