New to running and keen to know how to run a mile without stopping? Try these 7 simple tricks

Get ready to enter your running era.

How to run a mile without stopping: A woman on a run
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With marathon season well and truly upon us, there’s just something about running at the moment that’s giving us all the feels. Even those of us who've never run a day in our lives can get itchy feet and feel the urge to get out for a trot. 

There are few better feelings in life than returning home from a good run. But with all the noise comes an awful lot of imposter syndrome, too. It can seem like everyone else is sailing along, breezily managing to run for miles all while immaculately turned out and definitely not huffing and puffing their way to the nearest lamppost. It can be enough to put us off even trying. But hear this: everyone (and we mean everyone) has to start somewhere. 

If lacing up those trainers and jogging down the road feels like a huge mountain to climb, we get it – running is daunting. But you’re not alone - read on to find out PT-approved tips to help you run a mile without stopping, even if you’re new to running. And the best bit? Absolutely no sprinting required. You’re welcome!

While you’re here, you might like to check out our guides to running tips for beginners, mindful running, plus find out how our Health Editor learnt how to run faster and used speedwork training to run a sub 1:30 half marathon (PSA: she’s practically superhuman). Considering running a marathon and want to know how to run further? Check out expert training tips for a marathon, here. 

Want to know how to run a mile without stopping? Try these 7 simple tips

What are the benefits of running a mile without stopping?

While there may not be any particular scientific benefits to running a mile without stopping (aside from feeling pretty smug), it’s often viewed as a baseline now-I’m-a-runner target (although, we must stress – if you can run any distance at all, you’re a runner!)

“Running is a very primal act,” explains running coach and director of fitness at fitness app, WithU, Rory Knight. “Once upon a time it was a necessity for our ancestors to run to prevent them from going hungry. And while you and I are unlikely to need to run for our dinner anytime soon, there’s still something very primitive and empowering about possessing the capability of running a mile. More functionally, it is a fairly good barometer of where your cardiovascular health is at.”

Indeed, the benefits of running more generally are manifold – we all know that cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen our hearts, with studies (such as this one, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine) consistently showing that running even just short distances once a week is associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer and a lower risk of all-cause mortality. That’s quite literally dying from any cause.

That’s without mentioning the profound mental health benefits associated with going for a run – you may have heard of the ‘runner’s high’ – and we can attest to this, with research (such as this 2020 study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health) confirming that running boosts mood, lowers the risk of depression, anxiety and stress.

So, even if you think you can’t run, there are compelling reasons to keep an open mind and give it a try – you never know, you might even enjoy it (whisper it). If you’re tempted to give it a go but you’re not sure where to start, read on to discover how to run a mile without stopping.


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1. Build up slowly

It might sound obvious, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to run a mile straight off the bat if you’ve never run before, regardless of how fit you are. Go out too hard, and not only will you feel demotivated when things feel tough, but you’re putting yourself at risk of injury, too.

“When you’re taking on a new physical challenge, it’s important that you’re realistic with your expectations,” says Knight. “Meet yourself where you are right now, be kind to yourself and gradually progress towards hitting that magical mile mark. You’ll get there more effectively and with lower risk of injury or demotivation if you build up to it.”

2. Alternate running and walking

Know this: there's no shame in walking. So often, we berate ourselves for not being able to run without stopping, but this is an arbitrary hurdle that can simply make us feel bad about our capabilities. The reality is that starting off alternating running and walking can really help to build endurance and confidence.

“I would highly recommend a run-walk, run-walk pattern if you can’t run a mile without stopping right now,” advises Knight. “A blend of brisk walking and jogging is a great way to gradually introduce yourself to running.”

3. Be consistent

Time and again, running coaches will advise that consistency is key to improving your running – no matter how far or fast you’re going.

“The key element to improving endurance in running is consistency,” agrees PT and ultramarathoner, Emma Bord. “If you take a stop start approach or miss weeks here and there it will be far more challenging to improve. Setting yourself a weekly plan that gradually increases distance, along with strength and interval work on a regular basis, will increase your cardiovascular and muscular endurance in the safest and most effective way.”

4. Slow down and breathe

As well as being pretty decent life advice, when things get tough on a run – slow down and breathe. Sometimes, you might not need to stop and walk if you simply slow your pace down and catch your breath – we’re all guilty of going out too hard and fast at times.


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5. Focus on positive self-talk

There’s no doubt that mindset is a powerful tool when it comes to running. Your inner voice might be the only company you have on a run, so it pays to make sure it’s being supportive.

“My top tip for getting through your first mile without stopping is to talk kindly to yourself,” says runner and founder of all-female running and wellness club These Girls Run, Molly Slater-Davison. “I’m a huge advocate of repeating short phrases to yourself and remembering why you’re doing the run, to help you stay motivated and get you through runs of any length.

“The self-talk can be out loud (if you don’t mind people staring at you for talking to yourself) or completely in your head, but it’s important that it stays positive and talk yourself out of any negative thoughts. Examples of phrases to use are ‘I can do this’, ‘I am strong’ and ‘I get to run’.  These short sentences are powerful tools which are proven to shift our mindsets for the better, helping us to achieve our goals. After all, you can only achieve if you believe!”

6. Don't obsess about time

We can all get bogged down with times and speeds when we’re running – let’s face it, we’re all wearing devices that track our every move, so it can be tough not to get hung up on metrics, but sometimes they can do more harm than good. Try not to focus on how fast you can run a mile without stopping – or how many weeks it might take you to achieve the goal – trust in and enjoy the process.

“My advice is not to focus on the time it takes, but take on board expert advice so you’re building up to the mile in a sustainable, safe and enjoyable way, with good form,” agrees Knight. “You’re far more likely to keep aiming for that goal of a mile if you enjoy the process - so if it takes a little longer but you’re having fun and feeling accomplished - you’re winning!”

7. Stop comparing yourself to others

Last but certainly not least, comparison really is the thief of joy – and never more so than on the running track. There will always be someone who, regardless of how fit you are and how hard you work, will be able to run further and faster than you. So, it’s super important that you do you.

“The most important thing is that you stop comparing yourself to everyone else,” agrees Knight. “Stop referring to what you used to be able to do, or what others around you are doing. Instead put your energy into how you can be better going forward. You are good enough and you can do it - one small step at a time.”

With that, we’re off to lace up our trainers – we’ll meet you in your running era.

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Anna Bartter
Health Writer

Anna Bartter is a freelance journalist who writes about health, fitness and women's lifestyle for publications including Stylist, Metro and Psychologies, among others. 

She's always on a quest to find a variety of fun and functional workouts that give you the most bang for your workout buck and she's passionate about championing movement for everyone's mental and physical wellbeing.