The Mile – a chance to make lactic acid your friend! With just two months to go until this year’s Amba Hotels City of London Mile, Olympian and sub-4 minute-miler Anthony Whiteman offers some thoughts on how to train for the big day.

A quick scan through a typical calendar of weekend running races throws up a host of 10ks, 10 milers, half marathons and marathons, but rarely any of one single mile. 

 The vast majority of runners therefore focus their attention on those longer events, and their training reflects that. This will include plenty of steady running and maybe the odd interval session or tempo (hard) run. The Amba Hotels City of London Mile offers something a little different, given the relative shortness of the event. As such, and in order to achieve success, your training needs to be adapted accordingly. 

Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the concept of interval training, or at least with the outline of structuring a training session. A typical endurance session for a 10k runner might be 1 kilometre reps, running 5 to 8 reps, with around 90 seconds recovery between them. A 50 minute 10k runner should run them in around 5 minutes, so the recovery time is a lot shorter than the duration of the rep. To train for the mile, the interval session needs to be adapted. As I mentioned at the launch of this year’s Mile, one key session is ten times 400m, with 60 seconds recovery. This is a classic elite miler’s session, as the goal was to average under 60 seconds for each 400m to show you were capable of a sub-4 minute mile.

What this becomes for any runner is a session that can indicate your potential pace for the mile, as well as yielding the familiar feeling of lactic acid that race day will provide. Not all readers will have easy access to a running track, but the session can be completed pretty much anywhere you can run for around a minute without being impeded. 

The other session I would heartily recommend is a hill session. Find a safe hill that takes a minimum of 45 seconds to run up, do so and then simply turn around and jog back down in double the time - so 45 seconds up equals 1 minute 30 seconds down. Try and build up to 8 reps. Do your best to keep the times the same, so the first rep is steady and the last rep is as if you are being chased by a bear, but the times are equal! 

In order to get these sessions right, you need to get used to feeling the burn of lactic acid in your legs. The body will work hard to increase its tolerance to the acid and remove it during your recovery jog (always try to keep moving as your recovery ticks down). The returns will come on race day when all your hard work pays off with a personal best over one mile! 

In short: go hard or go home!

Tony Whiteman 3.51 Miler and World Record Holder for Mile over 40.

Why not prove Tony right by putting his words into action - then prove it to the rest of London by signing up to run the Amba Hotels City of London Mile? Registering is easy and only takes a minute - a bit like the race itself!