How fast can you run a mile?
If you haven’t been asked that question recently, be prepared to be asked it soon.
Most runners probably have a vague idea, but an actual PB? Unlikely.
The mile is something this country has fallen out of love with, which is a shame, as Britain is intrinsically linked to the distance. From Roger Bannister to Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram, Brits have dominated the world record times.
But with no emphasis on the distance in this country, the chances of breaking the world record, 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999, is unlikely.
But a number of people in London are trying to change this.
Nike launched its Nike Milers campaign last week in an underground car park in Hyde Park. Paula Radcliffe and British record holder Steve Cram talked about the importance of the event, and the benefits of training for this distance and the tactics involved in racing it. Footage of Cram’s record-beating run of 3:46.32 in 1985 was shown to cheers of “Go on Steve!” from the crowd, before we were warmed up by British Athletics coach David Harmer, and psychologically coached by Jennifer Savage, before making our way to the start line to run a mile.
I learned my first lesson within 30 seconds: I blazed off way too fast. Almost sprinting, my tank was nearly empty by the time I’d got half way, making the final stretch down a seemingly never-ending tunnel a lung-burning, bile-inducing hell.
But encouragingly, I was hoping for sub 6:30, and ended up with 5:03. The journey has begun to beat that time in two months’ time.
But Nike isn’t the only one behind the mile: Bupa’s Westminster Mile is returning for its third year on 24 May and aiming for more than 9,000 entries, making it the biggest timed mile event in the world.
And there’s the relatively new City Of London Mile on 14 June, which is free to enter.
It’s clear the mile is back in a big way. Time to find out what your PB is. Just don’t go off too fast.
Photo credits: Nike