If you’ve been running at a relatively steady pace recently, it can feel like you’ve reached a plateau.
There are several ways to begin building more endurance to run faster or longer without getting tired, especially if you’re trying to reach an eight-minute mile standard.
When you start pushing yourself harder, it helps to set new performance goals for yourself. Think about how you can stay motivated, discover how fast you can go, and persevere through the stamina-building process.
This guide takes you through the steps that help you achieve a faster speed and more endurance to reach the eight-minute mile standard.
The 8-Minute Mile Standard
The 8-minute mile standard is a fitness concept that says each person can run that distance in that time with proper form. It is the equivalent of maintaining a running pace of 7.5 miles per hour, ensuring that individuals have enough speed and stamina to be safe.
With the 8-minute mile standard, the goal is to establish the correct speed and form instead of worrying about distance.
You can achieve more benefits when running for a shorter time using the proper technique compared to long distances using an incorrect style.
Some runners put on miles to earn digital trophies or another notch in their fitness belts. You might survive a seven-hour marathon or finish a 5k run in about 45 minutes, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.
All runners should work on their basic form and technique extensively before attempting to run a longer distance.
That means landing on the middle to the forefoot while having a relaxed jaw. The hands should swing lightly with the opposite leg while staying at 90 degrees or slightly less.
A good running form includes a slight forward lean at the ankles while maintaining appropriate posture.
How to Increase Your Running Speed Consistently
Although an eight-minute mile might not seem possible right now, it is an achievement you can make with some adjustments to your daily routine. People need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly to maintain themselves, which means a few runs per week can get you there.
If your speed or stamina doesn’t seem to be coming along in the ways you hoped, here are some tips that can potentially help you get to where you want to be.
1. Test a Faster Pace
One of the first tasks to complete when the goal is to run faster is to learn how your body reacts to a quicker pace. It helps to start with short bursts of speed while running without overexerting yourself.
It’s not unusual to feel winded the first few days you incorporate a faster pace. You might also notice a transition from discomfort to pain. If the latter develops, slow your pace some to get closer to your baseline.
When you want to achieve the eight-minute mile standard, it’s essential to remember that mental stamina is as important as endurance.
You’ll need exposure to the different sensations that develop when you pick up the pace.
2. Increase Your Mileage
If you’re running six miles per week, increasing that figure by 25% or more will help improve your per-mile speed.
Some people run once per week, but they do other exercises that improve their fitness. You might consider swapping one of those sessions for a run to achieve the eight-minute mile standard.
Try to run at least two or three times per week. If you run more often than that, change the intensity and distance to avoid boredom, burnout, or injury.
3. Adjust Your Form
You might be running several miles per week with the wrong form and not even realize what is happening. What feels natural to you might be holding you back from an eight-minute mile.
Minor adjustments to your gait and posture help your body move with greater ease or less exertion.
That allows you to have more energy available to use to achieve a faster pace while running.
Try to relax your shoulders during your run. Let your arms swing naturally through the motion to let your momentum carry your body forward.
4. Count Your Total Strides
Stride turnover is the measurement of how many steps you take for each minute during a run. When you have this information in the front of your mind, the data can help you start to run faster.
If you’re not sure about your total stride count, try running at a pace that you could sustain for three miles for a minute. Count each time your right foot touches the ground.
After the timer expires, you can double the number of your right foot count to get your overall turnover rate.
This number is variable, but you can typically achieve an eight-minute mile with a rate of 180. New runners tend to go slower, which means your speed improves by increasing this number.
Focus on taking a light, short step. Imagine that you’re running on sharp glass or hot coals to achieve the correct foot placement.
As time passes, you’ll have a faster turnover rate develop that feels natural during a long run.
5. Focus on the Anaerobic Threshold
Everyone has a point when their exertion switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Your efforts to maintain this output have limitations. If your fitness improves, it’ll take longer to reach this point.
The best way to achieve results in this area is to use tempo runs. That means you’ll keep a pace that’s slightly lower than what you’d usually use. The fastest runners schedule at least one tempo session per week.
A great tempo run should feel comfortable, but it should also be hard. You shouldn’t be gasping for air during this effort, but you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation while running.
Start running at a comfortable pace for five to ten minutes. Then move to a speed that you think you could maintain for about six miles over the next 20 minutes.
6. Incorporate Speed Work
This technique is one of the most effective ways to achieve the eight-minute mile standard. The exercises in this category are designed to help you move faster.
One of the best ways to work on this development practice is to run in structured intervals. After warming up for five to ten minutes, run a 400m lap on a track. Run at a quick pace, then jog a second one to recover.
Try to repeat this process at least three times, with a recovery lap between each speed one. This workout is most effective when you do it once per week.
7. Use Fartleks
A fartlek is Swedish for “speed play.” This training incorporates sprints or other quick speed bursts with variable distances. You can use it when there isn’t a measured space or a treadmill available to manage specific intervals.
An easy way to use this technique is to sprint between street lights or a specific number of houses. Use symmetrical counting for this method, even if the distances aren’t equal.
You might sprint for three houses before recovering over the same distance.
Another option is to plan fartleks based on a favorite song. You can sprint during the chorus and recover while the verses play.
8. Use Hill Training
When you run hills, the effort improves your running efficiency and economy. That translates into more speed with repetitive work.
It also builds strength in your lower body that contributes to reaching the eight-minute mile standard.
If you haven’t been running much, consider starting with an easy jog of about ten minutes. Then find a hill with a moderate slope that forces you to run up it with a hard effort. Try to maintain your form the entire time to maximize returns while minimizing injury.
You can recover by jogging or walking down the hill. Start by repeating the run five or six times, adding one each week until you reach ten. It helps to run one forward and another backward to even out muscle development.
9. Run on Treadmills
Although many runners prefer the open road, you can use treadmills to increase your total speed.
When using a mechanized treadmill, the belt moves under your feet to require less overall effort. Since there’s no wind or precipitation, the environment feels comfortable.
If you need more of a challenge, increase the treadmill’s incline to 2% or more to simulate a hill run.
The benefit of using this exercise equipment is that your turnover rate will improve significantly, which is a skill that transfers over to an outdoor run. You can also exercise at times where it might feel unsafe outside, like late at night.
Best Treadmill to Use for Achieving the 8-Minute Mile Standard
The treadmill I use at home for my fitness needs is the NordicTrack T-Series. It achieves a 10% incline that makes your quads and calves burn like you wouldn’t believe, even if you’re only going 4 MPH. It reaches a top speed of 10 MPH with one-touch controls.
This treadmill is iFit compatible. Your trainer can automatically adjust your incline and speed with a remote Bluetooth® connection, creating a unique and interactive workout to enjoy.
Some treadmills are scary to use because the belt is so small. The tread for this NordicTrack design is 20 x 55 inches, which is enough elbow and leg space to enjoy while running. My knees appreciate the cushioned deck that absorbs standard impacts.
I keep my NordicTrack in the garage, so it’s always ready to use. It offers a space-saving design that lets it fold up after you’re finished with a workout to provide simple storage options.
Dual two-inch speakers are included with an AUX music port so that you can enjoy your favorite playlists without wearing earbuds or headphones.
The frame comes with a ten-year warranty, while parts are covered for 24 months and labor for a year.
Although it weighs 203 pounds, the NordicTrack sits well on traditional puzzle mats for a home gym.
If you’re trying to achieve an eight-minute mile standard and don’t want to go to the gym or explore open roads, you’ll appreciate all the features that come with this design. It’s sturdy without any shaking or needless vibration.
Don’t Forget to Let Your Body Recover!
Running each day can help the human body start moving faster, but it could also contribute to a speed plateau. People need rest to prevent injuries and recover. When starting to run faster for an eight-minute mile standard, it might be necessary to rest for a day or two in-between each session.
It was a phone call I’d been waiting eight years to receive. A professional team wanted me to come in for an extended tryout.
The only problem was that I was also out of shape. I’d spent about five years focused on video games and running a business instead of following a fitness plan. I had six weeks to improve before I needed to report.
Those first days were the worst. I couldn’t even run an entire mile without feeling winded, and my shins hurt for at least a month.
Little by little, my stamina started improving. My speed got better with consistent activity. It didn’t need to be a lengthy workout. Some of those runs were only two miles.
By week four, I was at the eight-minute mile standard. In the next couple of weeks, I managed to get it down to seven minutes.
Did I get signed? No – but the lessons I learned during that time have helped me to maintain my health and fitness since that time. That’s why I encourage everyone to test themselves to see if they can run a mile in eight minutes.