How to Improve a 1.5-Mile Run Time: 2 Week and 1 Month Plan
If you are reading this and wondering why anyone would want to improve their time in the mile and a half, let’s start with that.
Running 1.5 miles is a distance often done by junior high athletes in track. In addition, those in the military often have to run a mile and a half for a PFT (physical fitness test). It also bears mention that some military branches have a slightly longer run of two miles for the PFT test.
Whether you are wondering how to improve your run time for the 1.5-mile run or the 2-mile run, we have some great suggestions for you.
Advice for Beginners
Planning 1.5-mile run training for beginners was my life as a middle school track coach. The key is to start easy and be patient.
Sure, it is not a terribly long way to run. However, most runners fall to the same rookie mistakes.
If you are a brand new runner and you have plenty of time, finding and following a Couch to 5K program is your absolute best bet.
Wondering why we suggest that when your goal is only a mile and a half?
Because preparing to run further than your goal is the best way to nail the 1.5 distance run you plan to race.
How To Improve Your 1.5 Mile Run Time: 4 Key Tips
The first question I ask people when they say that they want to improve their run time is what their starting point is.
It is also important to know if the person can run steady for the entire time or find themselves struggling to keep a certain pace. Why is this important?
If you are new to this distance or out of shape, you may find yourself slowing down considerably. Some people might even find themselves walking either during the run or near the end.
Runners who can maintain a steady pace over the course of the distance might find they can complete the run without walking.
New runners often tend to go out way too fast and do what we coaches call “jack rabbiting.” If you run super-fast, then have to walk a bit, then sprint again, that is jack rabbiting.
A steady pace is much easier on your body than the start/stop process. Learning how to train for a 1.5-mile run is not as hard as it might seem.
The standard advice for someone looking to improve in a certain distance is this:
1. Pace Yourself: Find a pace you can maintain the entire distance and stick with it. This doesn’t mean you should let yourself get tempted to run super easy just because we recommend pacing. It just means don’t go out too fast!
2. Tempo Workouts: You need to learn what it feels like to run the pace you are hoping to hold for the entire time. For example, if you currently have an 8-minute mile pace and you are gunning for 7-minute miles, try doing some 800s at the 8 minutes per mile pace.
Muscle memory helps your body to acclimate to what that pace feels like.
3. Run Your Race: Don’t fall victim to getting sucked into someone else’s pace. This does relate to the steady pace discussed above. If you get caught up in the moment and get pulled in by another runner’s too-fast pace, you will probably regret that later on.
4. Speed Specific Workouts: In addition to learning how the pace feels and doing tempo, you get faster by running faster.
You should also do endurance running and speed work that will have you turning your wheels.
If you are doing your tempo at a certain pace, throw in some 400s at a pace considerably faster than you are hoping to complete the 1.5 or 2-mile run-in.
Is Fast Improvement Possible?
Looking to improve your 1.5 miles run time in two weeks? That is a difficult but not impossible task.
First, look at the hints given above. Are you already doing these things?
The next thing to contemplate is how much improvement is reasonable to expect in that short amount of time.
Are you currently running a 10-minute mile?
Then, if you put in some work, you can probably see some improvement.
What about athletes with a 6 minute per mile average?
That might be a bit more difficult to see growth when you are already running fast.
One of my favorite hints for a newer runner hoping to improve is using a pacer. Sometimes it is as simple as having someone who knows how to keep pace if you struggle with it.
Do you have a buddy who runs the time you hope to get?
Can you stick with them without too much difficulty?
Learning how to lean into the pain is another good suggestion. The mental aspect of running is a very real thing.
Our Two Week Training Program
If you have a short window of opportunity and big goals for yourself and your time, here are some suggestions.
This has you running 5 days each week.
- Monday: Run 1.5 miles. Note your time. Figure out your minute per mile pace.
- Tuesday: Run/walk 3 miles, running for 3:00 minutes, walking for 1:00 minute. Focus on maintaining your goal pace when you are on a run cycle.
- Wednesday: Warm-up (either walk briskly, easy jog, or cycle) 6 x 800 (run the 800s at your goal pace for the run).; cooldown (same as a warm-up)
- Thursday: Nonimpact cardio or day off
- Friday: Run 2 miles very easy
- Saturday: Jog or brisk walk 1 mile, run 1 mile hard, jog or fast walk 1 mile OR if you have a friend who can run the goal pace you are hoping for, ask him or her to pace you for 1.5 miles (warming up for at least 5-6 minutes before)
- Sunday: Rest
- Monday: Run 2-3 miles easy
- Tuesday: Warm-up, 8 x 400 (faster than goal pace for run); cooldown
- Wednesday: nonimpact cardiovascular training or rest
- Thursday: 2-3 miles easy
- Friday: Jog or brisk walk 1 mile, run 1 mile hard, jog or walk 1 mile
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Easy jog 2-3
- Monday: Try your time trial again
Our Two Month Training Plan
If you hope to improve your 1.5 miles run time in a month, the work is the same – you have a little longer to get there.
When you are trying to get a faster mile, and a half time the plan will look similar to one for a shorter period of time.
You should run 5 days per week and be sure to mix up your running.
Components to include in your training include:
- Long Run: Every week, you should have a weekly longer run (3-5 miles)
- Speed Work: This can be 200s, 400s, 800s, or a mixture done in a ladder format.
- Tempo: Work some tempo in so you start to recognize your goal pace.
- Core Work: A strong core is important to building speed as a runner and athlete.
- Weekly Mileage: Increase your weekly mileage to help you build strength as a runner.
Ready, Set, Go!
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran runner, there is a 1.5-mile running program out there to help you improve your personal best and increase your fitness level.
All you need is the desire to improve and the dedication to follow a training plan.
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