Many new runners have a hard time running a mile without losing their breath. Does it sound familiar to you? If so, you probably start your career with good intentions but end up walking in frustration.
But don’t give up. It only takes time to build up your stamina. You can learn to run a mile without stopping as long as you follow a few basic steps.
How to run a mile without stopping
The keys to running nonstop involve proper pace and good form. Once you learn what to do (and what not to do) running for longer stretches becomes easier.
1. Stay safe
Running is generally a safe sport, but even a slight stumble or fall can derail your program and delay it for several weeks. Therefore, when starting a new program, it is smart to take basic safety precautions.
If you run outside, consider running without headphones. This will help you focus on the road and listen to traffic noises (from cars, other joggers, or cyclists). Also, make sure you’re visible, especially if you’re running early in the morning or late at night when it’s dark. Wear reflective clothing and shoes to make it easier to see.
Lastly, always run with identification. Accidents can happen, and if they do, it’s easier for first responders to take care of you if your ID is on hand.
How to Avoid Injury and Stay Safe When Running Away
2. Breathe properly
Many people assume that they need to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouth when they drain. That is not always the correct approach. When you run, you should breathe deeply but comfortably. For most runners, this means that they breathe through their nose and mouth to make sure they are getting enough oxygen.
With each breath, try to breathe deeply from the belly, not from the chest. This can help you avoid side stitches.
Also, you may notice that each inhalation and exhalation falls into a pattern with the steps you take. This is called locomotor-respiratory coupling. For example, for each breath you can land at two steps and for each exhale you can land at another two steps. This rhythmic pattern helps your body function more efficiently.
How to breathe correctly when running
3. Practice good posture
When running, keep your shoulders relaxed down and back to practice good posture. If you lean forward (a common novice mistake), you close your chest area and it may be more difficult to breathe. As a result, you may end up feeling out of breath much sooner.
By maintaining an upright posture, you keep your airway open to make breathing easier. Every minute or so during your run, do a quick posture scan and make sure your shoulders are not dragging towards your ears and that you are not leaning the front of your body forward. Stay relaxed and elongated through your spine for an efficient stride.
8 quick fixes for the run form
4. Reduce speed
When you start running, it is very common to run too fast. Even if it feels good at first, you may run out of steam because it’s going too fast. Instead, keep your pace in check and you’ll find yourself running a lot further.
So what is the correct rhythm? Each one’s running speed will be slightly different. But you should run at a conversational pace. This means that you must be able to speak in complete sentences while running. If you are out of breath, slow down.
With a better physical condition, you will be able to increase your speed. But for now, it’s more important to build confidence and stamina before picking up your pace.
How to find the best pace for you as a beginner runner
5. Use your arms
As you learn to run a mile, you will likely find that your arms can help take the workload off your legs. Therefore, it is smart to use them.
Keep your arms in a relaxed position. They should remain bent at a 90 degree angle and swing smoothly from the shoulder joint. Try to keep them at the sides of your body so they don’t cross over your chest. If you see that your hands are starting to float in front of your body, you may be leaning too far forward.
The movement of your arms should feel natural, but you will probably notice a contralateral pattern. This means that when one leg steps forward, the opposite arm also slides forward. This coordinated arm and leg movement helps balance and propel your body forward, so your legs don’t have to work as hard.
8 quick fixes for the run form
6. Train with a schedule
Many beginning runners find that following a training program allows them to build endurance safely and easily.
When you follow a specific program, both the distance and the intensity are gradually increased to avoid overuse injuries. Following a plan can also help you stay motivated by increasing intensity and distance at a pace that is manageable.
Many smart mile plans include the run / walk method. When you use this program, you alternate between running and walking, gradually increasing the distance of your running intervals.
The 4-week plan to run a mile
7. Increase mental strength
Sometimes the key to running longer distances is simply practicing “mind over matter.” If you feel like you want to stop, choose a mantra that lifts your spirits and repeat it. Positive self-talk has been shown to help runners and other athletes overcome physical challenges.
Before you know it, you’ll be passing the mile mark and moving longer distances.
How to use mental strategies for long distance running
8. Add Hills Cautiously
The mile course you are targeting may include a slope. Some runners attack the hills, assuming they should just try to finish them off as quickly as possible. But when you are first learning to run a mile, your focus should be on increasing the distance, rather than the intensity.
Once you have the one mile distance under your belt, then gradually add hills. As you approach the incline, slow down so you don’t exhaust yourself and start walking. Tell yourself that you will go a little slower on the uphill, but that you will end up going a little faster on the downhill. Keep moving your arms and help them “pump” up the hill.