How to Run a Mile in 8 Minutes

Curious about how to run a mile in 8 minutes (or another time)? This article will help you improve your mile time!

This article focuses on a common goal for many recreational runners – how to run a mile in 8 minutes. However, the training guidance outlined pertains to any mile pace goal, whether you want to race a mile in 5 minutes or 12 minutes. 

Is an 8 minute mile good?

First, let’s be clear: pace does not define your worth as a runner. You can strive for excellence in your running no matter what, whether your easy runs are 8 minute mile pace or you never run one mile in 8 minutes. Never compare to other runners; if racing one mile is a big goal for you, then running an 8 minute mile is a good goal. 

Running is a growing sport, and with the recent running boom, there are many beginners in the sport. The beauty of running is that it welcomes runners of all abilities. Whether you’re a recreational runner or a beginner, running an 8 minute mile is a big goal that many in our community are striving for. 

8 min mile to mph

If you are on the treadmill, the machine may not display minute per mile pace. Instead, treadmills often show pace in mph. The conversion of 8 min mile to mph is 7.5 mph. 

In the metric system, an 8:00-minute/mile pace is approximately 5:00 minutes per kilometer. This converts to approximately 12 kph. 

Related: How Accurate is Your Garmin on the Treadmill?

Benefits of running a mile in 8 minutes

Even if your favorite event is the marathon, improving your mile time can be beneficial. The mile is not a sprint – it’s considered middle-distance running. Despite common misconceptions, the mile is still a predominantly aerobic event, especially for recreational runners. Even at the world-class level (sub-4 minute miles), a mile race is approximately 75-85% aerobic and 15-25% anaerobic. (The aerobic vs. anaerobic range may vary ~5% based on individual muscle fiber typology and training status.) 

Running a faster mile – whether that’s a mile in 8 minutes, 6 minutes, or 10 minutes – will make you a faster runner overall. When you train to run a faster mile, you are improving your top-end aerobic capacity (VO2max) and your body’s ability to shuttle lactate from the bloodstream to muscles. These adaptations will help you improve at other longer, slower distances. 

How to improve your mile time

Once you understand that the mile is still an aerobic event, the most effective approach for running a faster mile becomes clear. You do not run a mile in 8 minutes with HIIT workouts and haphazard time trials. Rather, you run a mile in 8 minutes with similar training principles to other distances and some mile-specific workouts. 

Build volume with easy miles

Training for a mile involves more than just track workouts. Since the mile is an aerobic event, you will run faster if you develop your aerobic fitness. A high aerobic capacity—one that allows you to run a mile in 8 minutes or less—is built through a program that includes both easy running and short, fast intervals. 

A 2021 review in Sports Medicine examined the training of world-class middle-distance runners. Runners specializing in the 1500m and mile ran approximately 40-70% of the weekly mileage they completed during marathon or half marathon training. This training volume allowed them to develop their aerobic capacity without the excessive fatigue of high-volume training. 

The same approach to training volume would benefit recreational runners. For example, if you train 50 miles per week for the marathon, you would want to train 20 to 35 miles per week for the mile. If you are typically a low-mileage runner (15-25 miles per week), aiming to maintain your mileage will assist you in running a fast mile. 

Related: How Many Miles Should I Run Per Week?

Workouts to run a fast mile 

Solely easy running will not help you run a fast mile. (Here’s why the Maffetone approach does not work for everyone.) If you want to run a fast mile, you also need the neuromuscular and metabolic stimuli that short, high-intensity running intervals provide. 

Typically, speed workouts will only constitute about 15-20% of your total training time. Depending on how many days per week you run, you will do one to two speed workouts per week. 

These speed workouts will look different than you do for long-distance races. Generally speaking, you are not doing long, moderate tempo runs. Instead, you are doing short intervals at mile pace or slightly slower. (If you do two workouts per week, a secondary workout may be a threshold run or similar workout.)

If you are brand-new to speed workouts, a safe place to start is short, fast hill repeats. Hill repeats naturally encourage good form and reduce neuromuscular stress, thus resulting in a lower injury risk. But that doesn’t mean hill repeats are easy; the muscular and metabolic demands are high. Start with 30-second hill repeats and build to 1.5-2-minute hill repeats throughout training. (Read here for more guidance on how to start adding speed workouts to your training.)

If you are accustomed to hard workouts, you can do specific workouts at or near mile pace. One type of mile-specific workout is called lactate tolerance intervals. Lactate tolerance intervals consist of 200 to 600 meter repetitions at mile pace, with 1-3 minute rest in between. (Since these are very hard, you may walk or stand during the rest.) The total session only involves approximately one to 1.5 miles of hard work. 

Another effective workout for the mile is VO2max intervals. These intervals last 2-4 minutes and are paced at 3K-5K effort, with 2-3 minutes of recovery in between. Depending on your ability level, VO2max intervals will involve 10-18 minutes of total work. 

Sample mile workouts include:

  • 8-12 x 30 seconds hard uphill (jog back down to recover)
  • 6-12 x 1 minute hard uphill (jog back down to recover)
  • 6-10 x 200m at mile pace (1.5-2 min rest)
  • 4-6 x 400m at mile pace (2-3 min rest)
  • 4-6 x 3 minutes at 3K-5K pace (3 minute rest)

Assess your pace with time trials

Running a fast mile is hard. It’s not an easy feat; your muscles will sear with discomfort and your mind will beg you to stop. However, like other distances, the more you race it, the more you understand how to push through the discomfort. 

You can start your training schedule with a mile time trial to establish a baseline. From there, you can repeat a time trial every 4-8 weeks in training. Ideally, you should run the time trial on a track or another flat, uninterrupted route. Always ensure you warm up with easy running and strides before a mile time trial.  

Example 8 minute mile training schedule

How does that all come together? Here’s a sample schedule of training to run a fast mile. 

  • Monday: easy run
  • Tuesday: 4-6 x 300m repeats at mile pace (plus warm-up and cool down)
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: easy run + strides
  • Friday: easy run or cross-training
  • Saturday: long/easy run
  • Sunday: rest

You will notice that the hard workout of the week is followed by recovery. While the workouts may be short, mile workouts are very high-intensity and, therefore, require appropriate recovery afterward. If you do two hard workouts per week, you want to allow one to two rest or easy run days in between. 

8 minute mile half & marathon tips

Once you can run a mile in 8 minutes, you may start to dream about bigger goals. While you can make big progress in training, it is important to conceptualize goals over months and years, not days and weeks. It will take a long time to go from running 8 minutes for one mile to being able to run 8 minutes for a half marathon (1:45 half) or marathon (3:30 half marathon). 

If you can already run a single mile in approximately 6:45, 8 minute mile pace for a half marathon is a realistic goal. Once you can run a mile in approximately 6:25-6:30, then 3:30 marathon pace is an appropriate goal. (These are general guidelines, not individual requirements). 

For more information on 8 minute mile pace at long distance races:

8 minute miles, recapped

Being able to run an 8 minute mile pace is a popular running goal. With a focused training program, you can improve your mile time – whether that means finally running an 8 minute mile pace or another big goal you have. As with any training program, give yourself time to adapt. If you allow 8-12 weeks of focused training, you will see your mile pace improve. 

Want more information on how to run a mile in 8 minutes (or any time goal)? Listen to the Tread Lightly Podcast! 

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