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How many mile repeats should you do?

Running mile repeats is a common and effective form of speed training for runners. Repeats help build speed, endurance, and mental toughness. However, the optimal number of mile repeats to include in a workout depends on your goals, current fitness level, and training phase.

What are Mile Repeats?

Mile repeats (also called mile intervals) are a type of high-intensity interval training where you repeat 1-mile efforts at your goal race pace, with short rest intervals in between. The focus is on quality running at a fast pace rather than just logging miles.

A typical mile repeat workout may look like this:

  • Warm up for 15-20 minutes
  • Run 6 x 1-mile repeats at 5K-10K race pace with 1-2 minutes rest between each
  • Cool down for 10-15 minutes

By stressing your cardiovascular system with the fast-paced intervals and challenging your legs with the repetitive nature of the workout, mile repeats build endurance and strength.

Benefits of Mile Repeats

Some key benefits of regularly including mile repeat workouts in your training plan include:

  • Improved speed and pace control – You’ll learn to hold faster paces comfortably and smoothly.
  • Greater endurance – Repeats boost your lactate threshold which allows you to run faster paces longer before fatigue sets in.
  • Leg strength – Repeatedly running at a fast clip challenges your leg muscles and builds strength.
  • Mental toughness – Pushing through the discomfort of repeats builds mental stamina and resilience.

How Many Mile Repeats Should You Do?

The optimal number of mile repeats for you depends on several factors:

Your goals

Are you training for a 5K or marathon? The number of mile repeats you need varies based on your race distance and goal pace:

Goal Race Recommended # of Repeats
5K 6-10
10K 5-8
Half marathon 3-6
Marathon 2-4

As a general rule, the shorter the race distance, the more mile repeats you should incorporate into workouts. Speed is particularly important for 5Ks so more repeats are better. For marathon training, you want to concentrate more on endurance and shouldn’t overdo repeats.

Your current fitness level

The number of repeats you can handle depends on your current conditioning. Beginners should start with 2-4 repeats and build up gradually as fitness improves. More advanced runners can tackle 6-10 repeats in a session. Make sure you don’t overreach – it’s better to start conservatively and progress slowly.

Training phase

Your training cycle matters too. During base training phases, you want to run fewer repeats at a slower pace. In peak training as you prepare for goal races, you can increase volume and intensity. The table below provides general recommendations:

Training Phase # of Repeats Pace
Base Training 2-4 10-15 seconds per mile slower than goal pace
Build Training 4-6 5-10 seconds per mile slower than goal pace
Peak Training 6-10 Goal Race Pace

How to Structure a Mile Repeat Workout

When planning a mile repeat session, keep these tips in mind:

  • Warm up thoroughly – jog easily for 15-20 minutes and do some pickups or strides to get your legs ready.
  • Allow full recovery between repeats – shoot for 1-2 minutes of rest, adjusting based on your fitness.
  • Progressively increase volume – add 1 repeat per session as your fitness improves.
  • Vary the pace – alternate goal pace repeats with slightly slower ones.
  • Include hill repeats – replace 1-2 mile repeats with uphill intervals once in awhile.
  • Monitor fatigue – end the session when your pace falls off by more than 5-10 seconds per mile.
  • Cool down – jog easily for 10-15 minutes afterwards.

Sample Mile Repeat Workouts

Here are two sample mile repeat workouts, one for a beginner and one for an advanced runner:

Beginner (base training phase)

  • Warm up: 15 minutes easy jogging
  • 4 x 1 mile repeats @ 10K race pace + 1:30 rest between each
  • Cool down: 10 minutes easy jogging

Advanced (peak training phase)

  • Warm up: 20 minutes easy jogging
  • 2 x 1 mile repeats @ 5K race pace + 1:00 rest
  • 4 x 1 mile repeats @ 10K race pace + 1:30 rest
  • 2 x 1 mile uphill repeats + 2:00 rest
  • Cool down: 15 minutes easy jogging


Mile repeats are a challenging, highly effective workout for runners of all ability levels. The number of repeats you should do in a session depends on your race distance, fitness level, and training phase. Start conservatively with just 2-4 repeats and build up gradually over time. Consistently including mile repeats in your training will lead to impressive gains in speed, endurance and mental toughness.