Make Every Mile Count

Make Every Mile Count with photo of man running along a body of water.
Written by: Andrew Ware
January 30, 2024

On the Run

Lately, my running has been going really well (or at least that is my perception of it). Obviously not every run is a great run, but even when I am struggling with a run, the grace I offer myself, has led me to feeling really good. However, something this last week happened that really got me thinking about all of the miles we put into training.

I had given myself a Threshold Fartlek workout. It was an opportunity to start testing my speed and seeing where I sit in terms of holding a 10k-Half Marathon Pace while also balancing the recovery of easy jogs in between each interval. 

The Workout:

  • 1km Warmup
  • 4x1km at Threshold Pace (about 7:50-8:00/mile)
    • 0.5km Easy Jog Recovery between each intereval

How It Went

With my ramping up of mileage and interjecting speed a bit more, I have been very weary about making sure I am caring for my body to stave off over use injuries (shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, etc.)

Without truly knowing where it came from, after I finished the third up tempo interval, my Achilles began to ache. So I stopped and walked for the recovery interval for a bit just to give it a moment to rest. Once the ache went away (about 100 meters) I started to jog, but the ache crept back in. 

I then made the conscious decision to stop the run (forsaking the final up-tempo interval) shorter than originally intended. However, I was ok with this decision, because I knew it was the best one, and because I had on my mind, my latest running mantra.

Text reads: “Make Every Mile Count.” Picture shows a man running along a river

“Make Every Mile Count”

  • 1 Mile
  • 5280 Feet
  • 63,360 Inches
  • 1.609 Kilometers
  • 1,609.34 Meters

It doesn’t matter how you measure it, one mile is one mile. It also doesn’t matter how quickly you run it or how long it takes you one mile is one mile.

Last year I ran over 1,200 miles in training. In this lead-up to the Shamrock Half Marathon (I have about 8 weeks left), I will run almost 300 miles.

The mile is often the focal point of our training, but we almost treat it as a throwaway. We treat them as something that happens or to check off the list…

  • “I need to do [this] mile, at [this] pace.” 
  • “I have [this many] miles to run today.” 

If you have listened to any episode of Run Build Grow all the way to the end, you will hear me end every episode saying, “Make Every Mile Count.”

Every mile has a purpose, even ones that don’t measure out to be a full mile. Sometimes, cutting a mile short can be the best way to make the most out of that particular mile. Sometimes gutting it out can make it one of the best miles of your running journey. 

Perhaps I should consider saying “Make every step count,” but something about that idea of the “roundness” of a mile continues to strike me.

When I was running high school track, the mile was one of my premier events (along with the 2 mile). I knew every inch of that 1600-meter race when to go hard when to pull back, and when it was or wasn’t my day. Now that I have seemingly graduated from the mile and find myself running much longer races, everything still gets broken up into that nice, neat interval.

*Now to be completely transparent (as you saw above), I train in kilometers, not because I am anti-American or anything, I just find kilometers to be more easily converted when I am pacing in certain races. — None of this though precludes me from speaking in the more common imperial measurement vernacular.

The idea behind this concept, in my mind, is that there are so many miles that make up our run journeys. It is hard to single out any single one as something that might be better than another. Every mile has its role and purpose and we cannot forget that. Both the miles we complete and don’t complete. The miles that fly by and the ones we struggle through.

Track Example

Let’s say that a track athlete runs under the coveted 4-minute mile barrier (that is one mile, under 4 minutes). They might consider that their “Greatest Mile Ever.” However, would they discount the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of miles that helped to make that coveted achievement possible?

It may have been the goal they wanted to achieve, and it happened at that particular moment, on that particular mile. However, there were so many miles that meant just as much in the grand scheme of that achievement.

Moving over to a longer event.

We will go to the other end of that spectrum (though maybe not completely), and take the marathon as an example. Much like the sub-4-minute mile attempt, hundreds of miles go into marathon training. Even the most novice marathon plans peak out at over 40 miles during parts of the training. However, even beyond that, the marathon race itself is comprised of 26.2 miles from start to finish (remember to run the tangents). 

Each mile matters in that race and doing your best or doing what needs to be done in each mile could mean the difference for you.

All of this doesn’t mean that the reason you are not fast is because you squirrel away miles. It doesn’t matter to me whether you are fast or not. Your speed is your achievement, and your pace is as unique as your fingerprint.

Making Every Mile Count is about doing what you need to do for yourself in the mile you are in. If you have a goal you want to achieve, what needs to happen in that mile to help you get there. If you need to stop, in order to stave off injury, stop. If you need to push yourself through as a mental exercise, then do it. Do what you need to during that mile.

What needs to happen in this mile to help you grow?

  • Do you need to finish it?
  • Do you need to walk?
  • Do you need to run as fast as you can?
  • Do you need to stop and finish your run early?

Assess the mile that you are in and figure out what needs to happen. 

1% Better

Recently on a run, I was listening to The Running For Real Podcast by Tina Muir, and she was interviewing Kayla Jeter:

In the episode, Kayla talks about what it means to be 1% better, and Tina notes how this could lead to levels of “negative think.” However, Kayla notes in response that 1% better is about “finding what works for you on your way to whatever goal you set…THAT DAY.”

It is the “that day” portion and the emphasis that was placed on it in her response. The qualification being that we need to assess where we are in order to determine what the healthy nature of growth looks like for us moving forward. 

Reflecting For You

This is a completely internal reflection for you. No one can tell you how to treat the miles you run. No one should determine what you need. Yes, you can seek outside council when it comes to certain aspects of your training, and sometimes after hearing wisdom, experience, and knowledge from others it can help us make decisions. However, at the end of the day it is you who is running the miles, and you need to determine what can help make every mile count.

Every mile that works you toward your goal is vital. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The full miles, and the incomplete miles. The .99 and the .04.

Go, and make every mile count!

Author

  • Andrew Ware

    My vision as the RunninRev is to build community and faith relationships through running and self-care. I have become an advocate in the church for clergy care, and helping clergy prevent or recover from burnout. I see my primary outreach to the community as building these communal structures through running and having fun together on the run.

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