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Running a mile a day: Benefits + 9 reasons to do it

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We all know about the life-changing benefits of running and the positive impact it can have on your physical and mental health.

These are just some of the reasons why you should be running a mile a day.

During a time when it seems a lot of runners are looking to train for long distance runs like half marathons, the humble short run seems to have been neglected. 

In today’s world when our days seem increasingly filled with work and family commitments, it’s often unrealistic to expect someone to run 10, 20, 30 plus miles per week. 

This is why a running a mile a day has become so popular amongst the running community in recent years.

It’s an accessible way to get your daily fix of running!

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • How long does it take to run a mile?
  • How long does it take to walk a mile?
  • Who should run a mile a day?
  • What are the benefits of running a mile a day?
  • 9 reasons to run a mile a day
  • 3 lessons I learned from running a mile a day
  • Tips for running a mile a day
running a mile a day

How long does it take to run a mile?

You may be wondering: “What is the average time to run a mile?”

How fast you can run a mile will depend on various factors, including your age, gender, running experience and fitness levels.

Even the weather and terrain can affect how fast you can run a mile.

Here are the average times to run a mile based on running experience:

  • The average one mile time for a beginner runner is about 12 to 15 minutes.
  • The average one mile time for a novice runner is about 9 to 10 minutes.
  • The average one mile time for an elite runner is about 4 to 5 minutes.

Interestingly, the world record one mile time is 3 minutes and 43 seconds and this was set by Moroccan middle-distance runner Hicham El Guerroj in 1999.

How long does it take to walk a mile?

Although the run a mile a day challenge is exactly that – running a mile a day – you may also benefit from walking a mile a day if you feel you’re not quite ready to run it.

Most people can expect to walk a mile in 15 to 22 minutes. Competitive walkers can run a mile in about 11 minutes.

Who should run a mile a day?

Before you run a mile a day, it’s good to understand why you want to run a mile a day in the first place.

In other words, assess your ‘why’ and purpose before committing to the mile a day running challenge to see if it’s right for you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want to get out of the mile a day running challenge?
  • How do I want to feel after the challenge?
  • What do I want to accomplish by completing the challenge?

Once you have understood why you want to run a mile a day, this can help you draw up some attainable and specific goals.

running a mile a day

How to complete the mile a day running challenge

The beauty of the mile a day running challenge is that you can choose how you complete it depending on your lifestyle and running goals.

There really are no limits!

Here are some ideas for completing the challenge:

Run a mile a day for 30 days

Choose a period of 30 days suitable for you to complete the challenge.

Run a mile a day for a month

Choose the month in which you complete the challenge.

For example, the month of January is a popular month to complete the challenge as many runners want to get back into running following the festive season.

Run a mile a day on weekdays or weekends

If you don’t fancy the idea of running a mile a day for a period of 30 days – then an easier way to fit running into your lifestyle is to opt to run on weekdays or weekends only instead.

You could then build this up into running a mile day once you’ve built your endurance and stamina.

Run a mile day for longer periods, such as 60 to 90 days

It’s not unheard of for some runners to run a mile a day for longer periods, such as two months or longer.

Many runners enjoy the challenge so much, they opt to continue running because it has so many physical and mental health benefits.

What are the benefits of running a mile a day?

The mile a day running challenge has many physical and mental benefits.

Many studies have shown that running can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and has been shown to strengthen muscles and joints, therefore reducing the risk of disease like osteoporosis.

Here are some benefits of running a mile a day:

  • Improves your heart health
  • Helps to reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Helps you to lose weight
  • Strengthens your bones, muscles and joints
  • Maintains a healthy blood pressure
  • Maintains cholesterol levels
  • Improves self-esteem and confidence

Read on to find out about the top 9 reasons for completing the mile a day running challenge.

running a mile a day

9 top reasons for running a mile day

There are many running a mile a day benefits. Here are the 9 top reasons to complete the mile a day running challenge:

#1 You want to fit a run into a busy schedule

This is probably one of the biggest reasons why people opt to run short runs as opposed to long runs.

With work and family commitments, it’s often difficult to fit a run into your day when you have a million and one things to do. 

Running a mile, however, doesn’t demand a lot of your time, with many runners finishing the run in under 20 minutes or less.

You will start your run with the knowledge that you’re going to be running for a short period of time, so you can easily slot it into your lunch break or after work.

#2 You are returning to running after a long break

If you’ve taken a break from running, it can often feel daunting to lace up your running shoes again and get back into it again.

Whether you’ve taken a few months or years away from running, the mile a day challenge is a great way to break your return up in manageable chunks so it feels less scary.

If you feel the challenge is just too much at the moment, then consider breaking up the one mile run into walking and running intervals.

For example, walk for 0.1 mile then run for the next 0.1 mile and repeat 5 times. 

Walking/running intervals are common features in many beginner running training plans, including the ever-popular Couch to 5k training plan

#3 You are returning to running after an injury

If you are returning to running following an injury, then it’s important that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to regain your pre-injury fitness levels.

In many cases, this simply isn’t possible and you’ll need to build back your fitness and endurance following an injury. 

With the mile a day challenge, you will be able to gently ease yourself back into running. Running a mile a day is also a great way to get back into the ‘feel’ of running.

If you’ve had a long break, running may feel unfamiliar when you first start running – use these short runs to regain some of your confidence.

#4 You want to set yourself a running challenge

The mile a day running challenge is a great goal to set yourself, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced runner. 

Many runners look for a challenge when their current training routine has become boring or stale.

Whether you’re bored of the same old running routes, or would like to make your training plan more exciting, then consider running a mile a day. 

#5 You want to improve your mental health

One of the reasons I love running is that it allows me to reconnect my body and mind.

It has many mental benefits, and running has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

Running also helps to give you a better night’s sleep, with many studies showing that exercise helps you to form better sleep habits. 

Related: 6 mental health benefits of running

#6 You want to improve your physical health

There are many health benefits of running. Many people like the idea of running to improve their physical health, but often don’t know where to begin.

Running a mile every day offers a simple way to run without having to think about it too much.

In fact, many runners see it as a running a mile a day transformation.

Many studies have shown that running can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and has been shown to strengthen muscles and joints, therefore reducing the risk of disease like osteoporosis.

You may be wondering: Can I lose weight by running a mile a day?

The mile a day challenge is a great way to lose weight, with many people turning to running as a simple way to lose weight and improve their health. 

#7 You want to get outdoors more

Running offers a great way to reconnect with nature and the great outdoors. There are so many fantastic running trails in and around the UK, and the time is now to get out there and explore them.

Start by running one mile a day on some of the local trails near to where you live.

Whether this be your local park or nature reserve, trail running is a great alternative to road running as it takes you off the beaten track and allows you to explore what nature has to offer.

Related: 12 trail running tips for runners

#8 You are at the start of your running journey

A mile a day is a manageable distance for many beginner runners who are either starting out on their running journey, or have recently completed a programme like the Couch to 5k training plan.

Many beginner 5k and 10k training plans will get you running 1-2 miles per day in the first few weeks of the training plan, so a challenge like this is often a great way to set yourself up for something like a 5k or 10k.

#9 You want to motivate yourself to go for a run

A challenge like the run a mile a day challenge is a great way to motivate yourself to go for a run when you really don’t feel like it. 

You know that the run is going to be short and sweet so you don’t have to worry about running long distances, which can put many people off running if they’ve fallen out of love with it temporarily.

With the mile a day challenge, you know that the run will be over in 20 minutes or less, and you know you’d much rather be doing that than sat on a couch!

Related: How to start running and enjoy it: 12 tips for beginners

running a mile a day

3 lessons I learned from running a mile a day

In the summer of 2021, I set myself the run a mile a day challenge.

At the time I wanted to make the most of the fine summer weather that we were having in the UK, which meant more time outdoors and amongst nature.

I also wanted a way to unwind and de-stress after work, so I turned, unsurprisingly, to running!

Here’s what I learned:

#1 Summer is the best season to do the challenge

The first lesson I learned was that the summer is by far the best time to complete a challenge like this, when you have more daylight at your disposal.

Running in the dark, winter months makes any such challenge all the more difficult. 

#2 Don’t worry about pace or speed

The second lesson was that in order to complete a challenge like this, you can’t worry too much about your pace or speed when running as this just takes all the fun out of it.

I knew from the beginning that one of the main reasons why I wanted to complete the challenge was to help me de-stress after a long day at work, so I didn’t really care so much that I wasn’t running at my fastest pace.

#3 Consistency is key

The third lesson I learned was that it’s all about consistency.

It may sound obvious, but in order to really succeed in this challenge, you have to be consistent and show up every single day for your run.

The first week of the challenge was hard because the daily runs hadn’t quite become a habit yet.

Sure, there were some days when the run was harder, but I kept telling myself that it was just one mile so that got me through it. 

After about one and a half weeks, I found daily runs that much easier because they had become a habit for me.

Tips for running a mile a day

Here are a few tips for running a mile a day:

#1 Don’t worry about pace and speed

When running a mile a day, it helps to just focus on completing the run.

Don’t worry about pace or speed as you risk taking all the enjoyment out of running.

#2 Think of the run as ‘moving meditation’

This really helped me because I was able to enjoy nature and the outdoors instead of focusing on the run itself.

#3 Pick a circular route

A circular route means you start at your house and end at your house. This means you’re not adding unnecessary steps at the end.

#4 Set time aside each day to do your run

If this means blocking out your calendar, then do it!

#5 Pick a new and interesting route

It’s a good idea to pick new and interesting routes now and again, perhaps at the weekend, and stick to tried and tested routes during the week.

#6 Run with a friend or family member

On those days when you feel like you’re going to give up, it really helps to run with a friend or family member to keep you accountable for your runs.

#7 Take photos on each run

This is great to keep a reminder of all your runs. You could even choose to share your runs on social media or Strava and get support from fellow runners.

#8 Give yourself a little pep talk before each run

Remind yourself that you can do this!

#9 Finally, keep going!

More beginner running tips:

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