Running – The Mile – Marathon – Ultra Marathon and Life


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The measured mile is common to everyone, whether you’re an elite athlete chasing Olympic goal, World Titles or the middle of the pack finishers at the local “Save the trees 10k” in any town USA. The mile is the same for the runner determined to shave eight minutes off their marathon time, to qualify for Boston or the former couch potato whose only goal is to finish their first 5k. Likewise the mile is and will always be constant whether it’s the first entry into your log book or your twenty-five thousandth mile. The mile is simply a measured distance and yet it has the power to be so much more. The mile holds no bias, although it is the benchmark of comparison. The mile can be a place of solitude and a place of equality. Lastly the mile like the days of your life lay behind you as a reminder of the distances already covered and an opportunity to come standing proudly out in front of you forever yours to decide the impact it will have on your life.

The mile is an English unit of length equal to 1,760 yards and standardised as exactly 1,609.344 metres by international agreement in 1959. Since that time, the mile is and will always be equal to everyone who decides to run. The standard 5k race is 3.1 miles, the 10k is 6.2 miles and the marathon standard is 26.2 miles. No matter where you run these races from the eastern shores of the United States to the Pacific Coast of California and the remote states of Alaska and Hawaii the mile and these race distances will always be the same offering no prejudice.

The mile has no bias. The mile is the same for you and for me. No different for the black or the white athlete. From the Orient to the Wild West the mile is a constant among variables. Everyone whom has ever toed the line, started a fitness plan or simply ran for fun the mile has always and will always be the same. The mile does not offer an advantage to the wealthy or a disadvantage to the poor. It offers no easy path to the gifted or a more challenging one for the meek. The mile is what it is, a mile in distance, spring, summer, winter and fall. The mile is the mile for you and for me while offering a contrast between both of us.

The mile is a benchmark of comparison. The mile offers a standard of comparison between your ability and time. The mile also offers a contrast between your old self and the new. The mile is also a reference point of where you stand vs. the rest of the world. Determination, vigor and pride can be measured by the results handed over at the end of that mile. You can succeed or fall short. The mile will prove your work or show your weakness. The mile will be the standard never changing nor compromising. The mile is a frame of reference and a place to get a way.

The mile is a place of solitude. Apart from the world the mile offers a place of seclusion. Life in general is a crowded place, movement all around you. The mile offers you a place to be alone. In the mile you can become lost in its realm only alive inside your time and space. Within that humble distance you’re free to fly, to think, to dream and to lose contact with your distractions. The mile offers you a safe place, a consistent place and a place all of your own. Although each mile is the same your mile is distinctively and exclusively different. Just like finger prints or snowflakes, your mile is yours and my mile is mine, they maybe similar but each is private and unique from first to last.

The mile is equal from the first to the last. The mile is the same, today as it was yesterday. The mile of Roger Banister is the same as Sabastian Coe and Galen Rupp. The first mile of the marathon is the same as the last. One mile may seem harder, longer or more difficult than the rest but each mile is the same. A mile maybe up hill, downhill, or pancake flat, but each mile is the same in length today, tomorrow and yesterday. The mile never changes.

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Ultimately, the miles behind you are the same as the miles in front of you…the only difference in the two is the amount of effort you put into them. Only you can make tomorrows miles different by the focus, effort and intensity you put into them.


  • Although I use the Hal Higdon training plans (very much a novice), I have yet to time myself in the mile because I’m more focused on longer distances (right now, my first ultra in September). Is there any value in timing myself in the mile right now or is it more for a benchmark perspective? Thanks!