Mile News

How Our Totally Average Runner Broke the Sub-5 Minute Mile

March 24, 2017

Maybe it was the endorphins, but I swear I heard 23,000 high school kids cheering.

By Charles Bethea, Outside

I was watching the 1500 meter Olympic final last summer at a bar, a few months before my 35th birthday, when I first wondered if a middle-distance runner lurked within. It was a strange thought. At six-foot-three and 175 pounds, I have the look of a runner but not the legs. In my early thirties, some half-assed training led to an unimpressive 22:39 5K, a 1:49 half-marathon, and an almost 4-hour marathon. Usually, it was a girlfriend who’d goaded me into racing. Now, in my mid-thirties, I was managing bad back pain.

Still, the Mile in­trigued me. It ­sounded short, simple. Train­ing would take much less time than distance racing (or so I assumed). And everyone runs a marathon these days, right?

I’d never run a timed Mile. Never even been on a track. My personal best in the 5K suggested that a 6:30 Mile was possible, but that time would be nothing to brag about.

Sub-6 seemed too pedestrian, 5:30 too random. Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:43 world record, set in 1999, was safely out of reach. I decided to go for a sub-5 minute Mile. More than 23,000 high-schoolers break 5 minutes annually. But at twice their age, I’d be OK with that company.

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Tags: training (65) , sub-5 (2) , outside magazine (6) , nick willis (109) , miler method (1)

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Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

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