She's Like The Wind
August 12, 2011 2:03 PM   Subscribe

How realistic a goal is a 10 minute mile for me? Sproing for Details.

I am a 40 year old female, probably about 20-25 pounds overweight. I am just starting to get active again, though I do play tennis pretty regularly.

I like running, but I am pretty slow. Yesterday, I did a 3.5 mile run and my first mile was 10:26, second mile was 11:27 and third mile was 12:04. My HR averaged about 80% of max. Today, I decided to bust it for the first mile and I did it in 10:01. Then I did a run/walk for awhile and did another mile in 11:48.

I think some of this is probably lack of cardio health and some extra weight. I am just wondering if a goal to do a 10 minute mile for me is realistic. Assuming I try to run 3-4 times a week for 3-4 miles at a time, can I expect to be running a 10 minute mile consistently at some point? Has anyone done this? Is this a good training strategy to get there?
posted by duckus to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You already did it! (Assuming I'm reading that right and your first mile really was at 10:01?) Regardless, the answer is yes. I picked up running at age 32 and for the first six months never pushed myself faster than a 12 minute mile on the treadmill, running for 3-4 miles total. After a while I realized it had become pretty easy at that pace, and it occurred to me to start pushing it a little at a time. Now, two years later, my pace is between 9:30 and 10:00. I have friends who are much faster because they specifically worked at being fast, but my goal was (like yours) just an easy 10:00 pace. You can definitely do it!
posted by something something at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's completely and totally realistic. If you keep going you will best that time within probably 6 months.

You'll find you can be faster for the same perceived effort as you lose weight and improve your cardio fitness. It can be really easy to fall back into a relaxed pace where you won't improve speed or fitness - one way to counteract that is to periodic sprint and interval workouts where you 'teach' your body to go faster by doing so in shorter bursts. Then you can set time goals for tempo runs, where you try to sustain a slightly faster pace than your usual long-run pace for a longer time, and you check in at regular time or distance intervals so you can make sure you're on pace and adjust as necessary.

You may want to start reading Runner's World and other running resources to learn a few of the approaches that let you shave your time down.

But absolutely, don't be discouraged, this is so utterly achievable! Just don't rush it and don't injure yourself. There's a good 10% rule of thumb that says not to increase your time, distance, or effort in more than 10% increments at a time. Each time you make an improvement, repeat it a couple times to solidify, and then stretch a little on your next time out after that. Like stepping up stairs, each new gain adds up until you reach the larger goal.
posted by Miko at 2:17 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

You did a 10:26 and kept running for 3.5 miles, this should be an easy goal.

I'd look at Hal Higdon's books and find a 5K plan with a finishing pace under 10s. In a few weeks of speed work combined with proper rest, there's no reason why you can't be running 3 10s the end of September.
posted by advicepig at 2:18 PM on August 12, 2011

Yes, absolutely! As a ~35 year old, slightly overweight male who has only been running for a little over a year, I shaved ten minutes off my 6 mile time in that year and that was without any serious training or programs focused on increasing speed -- just steady running throughout the year. (now if only I could shave off another ten minutes this year...)
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:19 PM on August 12, 2011

You'll break 10 minutes next week.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:23 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you've just started running again, and you're able to do a mile in 10:26, you should have no problem breaking 10 minutes with some training. (I'm presuming you mean a 10-minute pace for more than 1 mile; otherwise as something something writes, you're just about there.) Just running 3-4 times weekly for 3-4 miles each time isn't necessarily going to do it, though. After a few weeks of building up a base (relatively slow running, increasing your distance no more than 5-10% per week), you should work in one day of speedwork, where instead of running 3-4 miles, you do some short, very intense bouts (e.g., sprint for 30 seconds), followed by recovery periods of very slow running or walking. Another of your weekly workouts (but not the one immediately after the speedwork) should involve running at a slightly faster pace than you feel comfortable with.

The idea is that if you always run at the same pace, you'll get better at running at that pace but you won't necessarily get faster. You need to combine endurance training with speed training, then put the two together. Depending on the composition of your muscles, you might progress very quickly or it might take some time, but it can be done. You'll ultimately reach a physiological limit (or at least the point where tiny improvements in speed require enormous investments of time), but it will be a while.

It's been a long time since I read running books, but I think the one that taught me most was by Jeff Galloway. I think he's updated Galloway's Book on Running; I'd recommend taking a look.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:24 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

31 here, started last year running 14:00/mile. I can run 8:50s now when the weather cooperates.

Try to run 3x a week. If you have to slow down after the first mile, you are running too fast for your current fitness. Start slowly and speed up later.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:28 PM on August 12, 2011

Oh, yeah, you'll most likely be laughing to yourself when you read this 3 months from now. I was 30-40 pounds over (on a male, 5'4" frame) when I started and I just kept running and blew through the 10 minute mark without looking back.

Take it easy, ramp up the miles slowly, and keep it fun.
posted by ftm at 2:38 PM on August 12, 2011

If you ran a mile in 10:01 you can easily shave one second off by sprinting from 9:55 to 9:59. Hell, you'll run slightly more than a mile.
posted by dfriedman at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2011

Although I'm of different age, gender and build, I started off being exhausted after running 2km in 12 minutes. In under 3 months, I was able to run 5km in 23 minutes, and I'm not even that serious about running. You will definitely achieve this, and with time it will become easy - you'll start wondering whether you could shave another 30 seconds off, another minute... the more you do it, the easier being fit gets.

Keep running!
posted by fearnothing at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2011

I'm 52-years-old, about 25lbs overweight*, who started running 12 weeks ago and ran 7.2km on Tuesday with my running group. I'm doing 3 miles or so twice a week, on top of the running group and I'm managing a 10-minute mile now - not the first mile, that's just warming up - but usually for the second mile, with a slightly slower pace for the third mile.

*3 months ago I was 40lbs overweight but have dropped 15lbs due to the running. Keep it up! Good on you!
posted by essexjan at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2011

I'd like to say that those are actually pretty good times for a beginning runner, relatively regardless of age or weight, and the fact that you can run three miles out of the box.
posted by cmoj at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You're almost there. Just keep running like this for two months or so and you'll have it. 10:00 is a really common goal and the fact you can do it for a mile says you are starting at a decent point. When I started (at late 40's (now 57)), it took me a while to get to 1 mile at any speed without a walk.

Now, with three marathons behind me and too many half marathons to count and a 5K each Wednesday for fun, 10 minutes is what I run when I want my 36 year old wife and her friends to catch up. You'd be surprised what you can do.

Really, duckus, you should be very pleased with yourself at this point. Sounds like you are a runner. (Now all you have to do is learn how to pee on the road side and blow your nose with a finger block and the runners will recognize you as one of their own! Runners are different.)
posted by FauxScot at 5:30 PM on August 12, 2011

I'd recommend signing up for a few 5K races. Even if you're not competitive, having an event to train for can be a great motivator, and race-day excitement can boost your speed quite a bit.

You're doing great already. Keep it up!
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:13 PM on August 12, 2011

Just to second starting slower and increasing your speed - I have always found that to work better (both for feeling good at the end and eventually being able to run faster).
posted by Pax at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2011

Also, some people really advocate for mixing running and walking - often resulting in faster total times. If this feels natural to you, then it might really help you increase your speed while not pushing too hard in total intensity. I've found it works marvelously for increasing distance.
posted by lab.beetle at 5:01 PM on August 13, 2011

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