How Fast Should You Run a Mile?

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Individuals who begin a running program often want to improve their performance. Their goal may be to run a faster mile or reach a specific distance. The U.S. Army has devised standards for runners based on age that may offer a helpful target for running a mile.

Ages 17 to 21

A runner who is 17 to 21 and in good health runs a mile in about 6:30 if he is in the top 1 percent of that age group, according to standards set by the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Guide. Runners should shoot for a time of approximately 8:18 if they want to be in the 50 percent bracket for the age group.

Ages 27 through 31

As individuals get older, their physical fitness levels tend to diminish. This is the case when the age group is looked at as a unit, but it does not pertain to individuals who may be in much better condition as they get older because they make a commitment to exercise and live a healthier lifestyle. A runner who is 27 to 31 and can run a mile in 6:39 or better is in the top 1 percent for the age group. Runners who can finish a 1-mile run in 8:56 are in the top 50 percent for the age group.

Ages 37 to 41

At the onset of middle age, it is more difficult to retain physical conditioning. Physical strength can be maintained as long as individuals exercise, compete and work out regularly.

However, fatty areas on the body increase while reaction times and quickness tend to diminish. A lack of exercise can cause a dramatic fall in the overall conditioning level. An individual in this age group that can run a mile in 6:48 or better is in the top 1 percent of his age group. Runners who can finish a 1-mile run in 9:45 are in the top 50 percent for the age group.

Ages 42 to 46

Individuals have to make a commitment to stay in shape if they want to be healthy, compete in sports and take part in energetic activity after age 42. A runner who can complete the mile run in 7:03 or less is in the top 1 percent for the age group. Runners who can finish a 1-mile run in 9:57 are in the top 50 percent for the age group.

Cautions

Only trained athletes can run a mile in these times. If you don't already run, start by walking briskly, and slowly incorporate jogging or running intervals of one minute or shorter into your routine. Gradually increase running intervals and decrease walking intervals until you can run a full mile, and then focus on slowly increasing your speed over months.

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