Once you've established yourself as a runner, turn your focus to time. You're not going to start out as a champion racer, but setting realistic goals and training to meet them will get you going in the right direction. A good place to start is a 10-minute mile. Hitting that mark requires a good measure of fitness but can be accomplished by most after the proper training.
Focus on Form
Even if you've gotten yourself in shape, it will be difficult to run your best time with improper form. As you run, keep your head level, and don't lean forward at the waist. Avoid tensing your shoulders and keep them upright.
Foot pain can also slow you down, so focus on the proper foot strike, says ACE Fitness. Keep your feet low to the ground, staying light. Make sure your running stride rolls from your heel through balls of your feet. Maintaining proper form will help you run more efficiently and will leave you less susceptible to injuries. Ten-minute miles can't be run if you're hurt on the couch.
Read more: How Fast Should You Run a Mile?
Training for Running
Before you can complete a 10-minute mile, you'll need to be fit. Fitness can be measured by aerobic capacity, which you'll need to build to up your distance. How can this be done? By running for longer distances at a lighter pace, according to fitness professional Greg McMillan on his website McMillan Running.
This will include at least one longer run per week, at least 30 to 40 minutes, at a pace that does not make you feel winded. Once or twice a week, go on a run of at least 1.5 times your desired distance, in this case, 1.5 miles.
To train for a 10-minute mile, aim to complete these runs in less than 20 minutes. Perform four to six half-mile intervals once a week at your desired pace — five minutes for a 10-minute mile. Perform one faster workout to challenge your muscles, either sprinting or hill runs, of four to six reps.
An effective training regimen will allow you to progressively increase your pace and distance as your fitness improves.
Keep Your Pace
On a treadmill, a rate of 6 miles per hour will result in a 10-minute mile. If running outside, make sure you have an easy-to-use timer; this can be a stopwatch or any device with a stopwatch app. Find a local track or measure out a mile and note each quarter mile. Go at the pace that's right for you, but as you'll likely slow throughout your run, start slightly faster than a 10-minute pace.
Aim to hit the quarter-mile mark in two minutes. If you are under that time, relax a bit. Otherwise shoot to be less than 4:30 at the half mile. Maintain the pace as closely as possible, with the goal of being under 7:30 with a quarter mile to go. By this point, you should be able to feel the correct pace. Finish strong, running all the way through the line without slowing up. Record your time.
Beyond the Goal
Once you can run a 10-minute mile, it's important to continue to challenge yourself for improved fitness and results. The great cardiovascular benefits of running are intensified when you push yourself for a new personal record. To do this, adjust your goal and training schedule, either with increased distance or reduced time in mind.
If you're looking to increase your distance, with an eye on running a 5K (3.1 miles), progress in half-mile intervals, aiming for the same pace. When you're happy with the distance you're running, work on cutting your times by 10 to 15 seconds each run.
Read more: How to Run a Faster Mile
Safety First: Don't Overtrain
Before you begin running for improved times, make sure you're doing so safely. Consult your doctor before beginning or dramatically increasing any training regimen. Also, pain due to overtraining can put the brakes on progress before you even get started, the American Council on Exercise notes. Always get adequate rest — at least two days per week — to avoid injury.