Treadmill ‘recipes’ for sub-9 minute mile repeats

Quarter-mile repeats on a treadmill couldn’t be simpler: Plug in the speed to yield your desired time, then just hang on until you get there, figuring you can endure just about anything for less than 2 minutes. And the faster you go, the sooner you’re done.

Mile repeats, however, at least for me, are much trickier. Even though I know I ought to be able to hold 7 mph for the 8 minutes and 57 seconds it takes to run a mile, I still associate 7 mph as a “ladder workout” speed to be held for just a couple of minutes at a time. It’s a mental barrier. And when it comes to mental barriers, I almost always look for ways to sneak over, under or around rather than just trying to bust straight through.

This week I’ve come up with two “treadmill recipes” that produce an 8:59 and one that yields an 8:52. Now that I’ve done those, I know I could go faster with just a few tweaks. I still don’t know if I could mentally deal with 7 mph straight through. But I don’t have to do it that way to get the time I want, so I’m not going to worry about it.

8:59 treadmill mile: Recipe No. 1

  • 6.5 mph to 1:00 mark
  • 6.6 to 2:00
  • 6.7 to 7:00
  • 6.8 to 8:59.

Note that in this version, I managed to run within 2 seconds of the 8:57 mile that a straight 7 mph would produce – and yet I never went above 6.8 mph. Weird, huh?

8:59 treadmill mile: Recipe No. 2

In this version, I started out at 7 mph for exactly 1 minute, then simply went down .1 mph every minute before reverting to 7 mph for the final minute.

  • 7 mph to 1:00
  • 6.9 mph to 2:00
  • 6.8 to 3:00
  • 6.7 to 4:00
  • 6.6 to 5:00
  • 6.5 to 6:00
  • 6.4 to 7:00
  • 6.3 to 8:00
  • 7 mph to 8:59.

Recipe for an 8:52 treadmill mile

This time I decided to start out much faster for 2 minutes, build in a recovery period, then go harder again.

  • 7.5 mph to 2:00
  • 6 mph to 5:00
  • 7 mph to 8:52

To start this mile I slipped in my “quarter-mile repeats” lens, pretending I was just going hard for 2 minutes. After that, slowing to 6 mph felt like a nice break – though it made me a little nervous how this mile was going to turn out. I’d hoped to crank it back up to 7.5 but didn’t have the guts, opting instead for 7.0 mph. The good news is, I held that for almost 4 minutes, which is about twice as long as I’ve held that speed in the past. So now I know that’s doable, and I’ll keep building on that.

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