The 1,600-m run, or metric mile, is a blue ribbon event in athletics. For many years, it was a race to see who would break the four-minute barrier, a feat eventually achieved by Briton Roger Bannister in 1954. Since 1954, the world record for the mile has been broken numerous times and, as of 2011, is held by Moroccan athlete Hicham el Guerrouj with a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds. A number of workouts can improve your performance.
One lap of a standard athletics track is 400 m (440 yards). In training, running 400 m at a fast pace will improve your basic running speed, your tolerance to lactic acid and your strength. To perform 400-m intervals, run 400 m at slightly above your normal 1,600-m pace. On completion, rest for three minutes and then repeat. Perform four to six repeats while endeavoring to run each interval at the same speed. As you get fitter, increase your pace slightly. After a few months of this type of training, you should find your mile pace has increased.
Running slightly longer distances in training, called overdistance work, develops your fitness, strength and mental toughness. By comparison, the 1,600 m will feel slightly easier and be less daunting. Overdistance work is performed at slightly below your 1,600-m pace. After you have warmed up, run 2,000 m and then rest for six to eight minutes before repeating. Perform two to four repeats.
Descending pyramid workouts improve fitness, speed and endurance. Warm up with some light jogging, then run 1,600 m as fast as you can. On completion, rest for three to five minutes, then run 800 m at a slightly faster pace. Rest for a further three to five minutes, then run 800 m again. After another rest of three to five minutes, finish the workout with four repeats of 400 m at an even faster pace. Rest two to three minutes between repetitions. On completion of your workout, three miles of quality running in total, jog for a few minutes to cool down and then stretch.
Running up hill strengthens your legs, heart and lungs and will transfer to a faster running speed on the track. Choose a hill between 300 and 500 yards long with a slight but constant gradient. If no such hill is available, you can perform this workout on a treadmill. After your warm up, run the length of your hill as fast as you can. On completion, walk back down to the bottom and repeat. Perform six to eight repetitions before cooling off with some easy jogging and stretching.
A challenging workout, 1,000-m turnarounds will increase your basic running speed and fitness. Place two cones 100 m apart. Run from one cone to another 10 times, a total distance of 1,000 m. The requirement to slow down, turn and get back up to speed will break up your running rhythm, which results in a demanding and beneficial workout. Rest five minutes, then repeat the workout two to four more times.
- "Run Less, Run Faster"; Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss; 2007
- "Daniels' Running Formula"; Jack Daniels; 2005
- "Running Anatomy"; Joseph Puleo and Patrick Milroy; 2009