In the last couple of years there has been a trend towards competing in the ‘miler’ event. Just take a look at some of the races popping up on the annual calendar. You’ve got the Bupa Westminster Mile, the Amba City of London Mile event (now in its second year) and now Nike Milers – the chance to “Show your fast” on the Mile End track. It seems that picking up the pace and thrashing out a decent 1609.344m is seriously in vogue right now.
Whether or not you particularly care about following the pack or have found your racing distance, one thing is for sure, the mighty mile is a distance worth embracing. Here are 5 Reasons why everyone should race a mile:
1. You build racing confidence
You only have to attend a race such as the Amba City of London Mile to work out that the distance of 1,609.344 metres (or just over four times around a track) is a fantastic intro to running for beginners. Not only do you get to experience what it is like to race, the camaraderie among competitors and all the fanfare of the crowds, you’re also not pushing yourself into something you’re not quite ready for. And as any runner who has entered something unprepared or undertrained would tell you, this can really knock your confidence and negatively affect your attitude towards running.
2. The distance is achievable
Unlike a marathon, half-marathon, 10K or 5K, you don’t have to particularly train hard to run a mile if you don’t want to. In short, the mile is achievable for runners of all abilities and ages. It’s this inclusivity that makes it such an attractive event for families. Indeed, many miler races will have a wave for families so everyone can get involved and share in the day rather than having to stand around cheering. One of my fondest memories of the Bupa Westminster Mile last year was watching a dad cross the line followed by his three kids like ducklings in a row behind him. The mile is a distance that anyone can have a go at and taste what it’s like to race.
3. It’s over really quickly
Running is amazing, it takes you to places all over the world and allows you to explore parts of the country you never knew existed BUT (and yes there’s a but) it can devour your spare time. It can be a tricky balance when you’re racing one day of the weekend and training another. It’s not so much the race, a 5K will take you around half an hour, but when you add on getting to and from the race, you’re looking at around at least two hours. This time increases with the distances and can cause friction sometimes. At least with the mile race, you know that it will be over in 10 minutes max and so you can reduce that time away and grumbles back home.
4. It’s a chance to be closer to the elites
In terms of timing, a pro can run a mile in say 4:04 (winner of the Amba City of London Mile race) while a strong club runner can do it in around 5:30 – so in the grand scheme of things there’s not much difference. And when you compare it to a marathon where this gap can widen to at least an hour or two, it makes the race so much more exciting and thrilling. Face it, unless you’re able to race in a similar situation on the track, you’ll never have the chance to achieve times so close to the winners and that’s worth bragging about.
5. You’ll become a stronger runner
Now don’t let all the above make you think that racing a mile is easy – it just depends on your goal. If you are entering purely to finish or doing it as your first race, you can take your time and absorb the atmosphere. For those hankering to improve, the mile is a good place to start. It takes speed and endurance to do well with this uncomfortable distance. You have to judge when to pick up the pace or go hell for leather from the word off. Even if a mile race is not your ultimate goal, it’s worth working on and being aware of your mile PB as you can use it as a motivational baseline in terms of speedwork and fast tempo running.
Have you ever run a mile? What do you think of the mile as a race? Let me know your thoughts below.