A 9 to 10-minute mile is the average for in-shape runners with prior experience running. Elite athletes average a 4 to 5-minute mile, twice as fast! New runners may be closer to 12 to 15 minutes per mile.
Naturally, the more you train and the more races you run, the quicker you’ll progress. But if you’ve been working on increasing your pace, a 7-minute mile is a great number to aim for. It’s faster than average, but not so fast that it’s an unrealistic goal.
Here are our tips and advice for running a 7-minute mile. With some focused training, it’s easily achievable for runners with some experience and who are dedicated to improving!
How Fast Is a 7-Minute Mile?
To hit 7 minutes per mile, you need to be running consistently 8 ½ miles per hour, or 13.7 kilometers per hour.
To put it into an easier training perspective, a 7-minute mile equals about 1 minute 45 seconds for one lap around a track.
Who Can Run a 7-Minute Mile?
If you’re already consistently running a 7 ½ to 8 ½-minute mile, you should be in the position to train successfully towards a 7-minute mile.
However, keep in mind that hitting a 7-minute mile once is a good feat, but training to sustain that pace during a race requires even more dedication.
If you’re already reaching the times above per mile, the first step is to aim for a single 7-minute mile during your training runs.
Once you can do one 7-minute mile consistently during your training, you can work on improving your overall endurance so that you can sustain that pace throughout a race.
How Much Training Will It Take to Run a 7-Minute Mile?
There’s no single answer to this question. It depends on your running ability, your fitness level, and how much time you have to dedicate to training. We can, however, offer some guidelines on what you can expect.
If you’re completely new to running, or getting back into it after a long time off, you can expect to train for around four months to be able to run a 7-minute mile.
If you already have a great fitness base, you may be able to cut that down by a few weeks, but we recommend giving it the full four months so you don’t overtrain.
The first two months should be base training, building up to running 15 to 20 miles weekly. This will also increase your endurance.
The following two months will include speed training, which will help to boost your speed and get you closer to that 7-minute mile.
If you’re already an experienced runner—easily reaching 15 to 20 miles a week—and your fitness level is good, you can expect to put in a solid two months of training to get to the 7-minute mile mark.
During those 2 months, you should focus on speed training, as your endurance is likely already good.
7-Minute Mile Running Workouts
If you’re serious about reaching that 7-minute mile, here are some workouts you should be doing to get you there faster.
The training is split into two sections: base training and speed training. You should spend about two months—8 weeks—working hard on each one.
Those who are new to running or starting again after time off should start with base training. If you can already run 20 miles a week with no difficulty, then you can move to speed training immediately.
Base training should include 3 to 5 runs per week at a lower intensity, to build up your stamina and get miles under your belt.
Between those 3 to 5 runs, you should run 10 miles in total on your first week. This could be 5 runs of 2 miles or 3 runs of 3.5 miles. Split it however you like.
The following week, you should add 1.5 miles to your total. So instead of running 10 miles during the week, you should aim for 11.5 miles. Again, you can split this however you like.
Every following week, add 1.5 miles to your total. You can add a little more if you feel up to it. By the end of the four weeks, you should be running between 15 and 20 miles comfortably. You can continue to add miles each week at this point, or you can stick to 20 miles each week.
Once you are comfortably running around 20 miles a week, you can move on to speed training. You should still be doing 3 to 5 low to mid-intensity runs per week, but in order to practice your speedwork, you will need to add in 2 interval sessions per week.
You will need to find somewhere to do this training where you can run hard and fast and not be interrupted. A track or a flat section of road or trail is ideal.
Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes before starting your speed training session. Stretch well and then do 4 to 8 strides of 45 to 90 yards—short bursts at roughly 80 to 90% of your maximum effort.
Follow up with 5 minutes of running drills. We recommend including high knees, butt kicks, A-skips, and B-skips, but you can choose any that you enjoy doing.
Then, get into your full interval session. You can choose how to structure it, but here are some ideas if you aren’t sure where to begin.
- Time-Based: 10 minutes at race pace and 1 minute easy run
- Intervals: 6 to 8 ¼-mile intervals at race pace with a ⅛-mile recovery jog between each
- Pyramid Training: ⅛-mile, ¼-mile, ⅜-mile, ½-mile, ⅜-mile, ¼-mile, ⅛-mile, with a ⅛-mile recovery jog between each
Strength training is an underrated element of boosting your running performance. We highly recommend including at least one day of strength training in your weekly routine, as it will help you build muscle which can improve your performance and your stamina.
Strength Training Routine
Once or twice a week is great for those who are new to strength training. It’s a good idea to do this on a day that you aren’t running. It can count as an active rest day.
Choose compound exercises—those that work multiple muscle groups—rather than isolation exercises, which only work one muscle group.
We recommend putting together 4 to 6 of the following exercises into one session. Try to get a full-body workout.
- Weighted Step-Ups
- Bench Press
- Shoulder Press
- Core Exercises
- Leg Raises
- Russian Twists
- Dead Bug
You should do 3 to 5 sets of each exercise, with 12 to 20 reps in each set. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes between each set.
You may not notice a big difference in your running performance immediately. But it’s important to be consistent. You should start to notice a difference within a month of beginning strength training.
Other Ways to Run Faster
Here are a few more tips and tricks to get you running faster. Try these and you should find that your pace improves, making it easier to reach that 7-minute mile!
You don’t need to do exactly the same run or the same route every time. If you’re bored with your training, adding some variation could be the key to getting you out of a rut.
Hill repeats for your interval training sessions or running a more hilly route for your easy runs will add a level of challenge. It also helps to build strength in your legs and increase your endurance.
You can also try running different routes, switching out the road for a trail or track, running your current route backwards, or running at a different time of day than your usual routine.
Improve Your Form
Working on your running form can help boost your performance. This may be something that you aren’t even aware of, but making small changes can significantly improve your form.
You should be running tall, with your chest up and your shoulders relaxed. Your arms should swing lightly, bent at 90-degrees at the elbow. Make sure you aren’t swinging wildly and causing your torso to rotate.
Your feet should be landing beneath your body. If they’re too far out in front, you’ll find that your push-off is slow. When your feet land beneath your body—in a straight line from head to feet—you’re in prime position to push off strongly with your calves.
It may be worth investing in a running coach to help get your form right. Small changes here can lead to huge changes in performance.
Do Running Drills
Running drills are effective at warming up the muscles used during running. They’re also great for improving your speed and dexterity.
There are many different running drills, and you can incorporate them into your rest days as well as your warm-ups.
Run With Someone
If your training is becoming boring or difficult, it can help to have a friend run with you. If they’re faster than you, they can help push you to improve.
A running buddy can also help to take the monotony out of training.
If you don’t have a friend who can join you on your training sessions, you may want to consider joining a local running club.