The First Mile Always Sucks. Let It Go.

It’s not just you. The first mile of a run (or roughly the first ten minutes of any exercise) is no good. However, relax on that first mile and you can prepare for a great workout or race.

Sometimes we ask too much of ourselves.

You are going to run three miles and after that you want to be able to say that you have run three miles in a certain amount of time, say 30 minutes. So, you get out of the car or out of the front door and immediately try to keep the pace on the 10-minute mile.

It sucks, right? You hate your life. You wonder why you started running at all. You either slow down or manage to keep up and endure suffering. “Clearly I cannot run 10 minutes of miles,” you tell yourself. I thought I could, but I didn’t train enough. I shouldn’t have eaten this pizza. I will always be slow. It’s only been five minutes and I feel like I’m going to die. I might as well pack myself up and go home .

Raise your hands if you’ve ever felt so awful during a workout in the first ten minutes that you abandoned your plan for the day or, worse, just went home. Yes, me too.

Here are eight words that will change your life: The first mile is trash. Throw it away .

Don’t expect anything good from the first mile. It will be either slow or horrible, or both. But during that first mile, your muscles shift into a more efficient way of working. The slow, hard, cold and precarious first mile paves the way for smooth, easy and strong miles.

When you start exercising, your breathing quickens so that more oxygen gets into your bloodstream. Your heart beats faster and your blood vessels dilate to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles as quickly as possible. And your muscles temporarily produce more enzymes that convert fuel into energy. Running these pre-workout changes makes your body work efficiently, according to Runner’s World , even if you take a break between warm-up and actual workout.

How to use your first mile as a warm-up

Let’s put this in terms of training goals. On the first mile of your run, there is one challenge and only one challenge: to prepare your body for the rest of your workout, which is where the magic happens. So instead of thinking of your training run as a three-mile run, you run a warm-up one mile and a two-mile workout. And you won’t start looking at your watch or asking yourself to do something stressful until the first mile is behind you.

For some, the first mile will take longer than for others, so for clarity, we’re talking about the first 10 minutes or so of your workout. If you are super fast, you can consider this warm-up time as your first two miles. Or, if you prefer to think in time rather than distance , set the clock to 10 or even 15 minutes.

So don’t count on the first mile. Do not try to run at a certain speed, overcome hills, or short intervals. Just work at an easy pace. This can mean light jogging or, if you don’t know how to run, a slow , vigorous walk. To completely fill these oxygen delivery systems, include a few mini-intervals, which runners call strides : accelerate to a sprint, hold that speed for 10 seconds or so, then decelerate again. Jog to recover. Do a few of these in the last few minutes of your warm-up.

Yes, I know there are backfires: a slower mile will lower your Runkeeper stats . Or you can start counting after the first mile ends, but then your app won’t give you credit for that first mile. Here’s how you should take care of it: zero. Just because the app gives you tracking numbers doesn’t mean finding them will help you improve your fitness . A paper log is my solution to this problem: I write down that I ran three miles and then add a note of what my pace was for the two miles that really count.

It’s amazing how nice it is to relax on the first mile. Try it once or twice and you will be hooked. The problem has been resolved. But what then do you do when it’s time to race?

Finish the first mile on race day

You don’t want that junk mile to ruin your race time, so you need to get to the race early and really warm up . If you always came to the races a few minutes before the starting shooting and immediately tried to achieve the desired pace, this will take some getting used to. Well worth it, I promise.

One caveat: on a very long race such as a marathon, it may not be possible to warm up ahead of time, and that’s really okay. You will probably be huddled in a crowded starting paddock half an hour or more before the start of the race. You can do a few squats while you wait to get your muscles ready for work, but the first mile will be your real warm-up. Don’t take it personally. Even if you exceed your target pace for a minute or two, you can catch up later in the race because you will feel great. (However, marathon racing strategy is a separate area of ​​study.)

The shorter the race, the more important the warm-up is. I once ran a 2 km race (1.2 miles) and my warm-up was longer than the race itself. I was jogging in the lanes near the start of the race, and when I felt good, I ran a few steps with a minute or two to recover before getting to the start. The warm-up lasted 1.5 miles and was worth every inch.

To allow yourself time and space for the first mile before the race, survey the area ahead of time and get there early . Do the same warm-up as in your workout. It can be an easy mile, or an easy ten minutes, or ten minutes of light movement plus five minutes of running to prepare your muscles for the challenge ahead. There is another advantage: the familiar warm-up before the race calms the nerves.

By taking that first mile away, you can put on a great performance without feeling like you’re about to die. The races are quite difficult with good preparation; trying to run 5 km without a warm-up only complicates the task. Throw that first mile away on race or training days and what remains will be your best effort.


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