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How Fast is a 4 Minute Mile?

How Fast is a 4 Minute Mile? – 2021 – Guide to Running a 4 Minute Mile

To know how fast is a 4 minute mile is we should first look at the history of the event, and when it was first broken.

Years ago, experts claimed that running a sub 4 mile just wasn’t possible. Our body wasn’t designed or able to run at that speed.

However, for many years people still tried to break the elusive barrier and it wasn’t until the 1940s where anyone got within a whisper. This is when a 4:01 result showed the world that running a sub 4 is actually humanly possible. Although for 9 years the time stood still, and people started to wonder again, would anyone be able to break it?

Luckily on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four minute mile, with a time of 3:59.4. This showed that what experts thought was wrong. The question now was how many others could break 4 minutes, and more importantly how much faster could they go?

The Fastest Mile Ever Ran

How Fast is A 4 Minute Mile?

A 4 minute mile is equivalent to running 1609m in 4 minutes or less. That means to go sub 4 you will need to run at a speed of 15 miles per hour or 24 km/h.

But how fast is a 4 minute mile in terms of pacing?

To produce a sub 4 result you would need to pace your speed comfortably at around 56-59 seconds per lap (400m). The 4 minute mile is really only a 3 lap race, because the final lap turns into a sprint, no matter what happens during the first 3 laps. Knowing this it is common for runners during the last lap to produce their fastest 400m split of the event.

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During the first lap of the mile, the runners often settle into a rhythm, this could mean they are slightly behind schedule, running 59-60 seconds for the first 400m. After that, the next 2 laps pace picks up dramatically, running closer to 56 seconds per 400m.

It is not uncommon for runners to lag during the 3rd lap and often this where the goal of breaking 4 minutes is lost. So during a sub 4 minute mile attempt, the 3rd lap is actually one of the most important laps of the event. This will ultimately dictate whether the runner will be able to run under the 4 minute barrier.

By the end of lap three, the runner ideally needs to be around the 2:58-3:02 mark to even have a slight chance of breaking 4 minutes for the mile (58-62 last lap). There are some cases though where they did hit the end of lap 3 at a slower pace and were able to still break 4 minutes, but it’s not so common.

Who Ran The Fastest Mile?

Who Ran The Fastest Mile? The Fastest Mile Ever Ran

Since the days of Roger Bannister, over 1000 runners have joined the elusive sub 4 club, but who ran the fastest mile of all time?

The fastest mile ever ran was by Hicham El Guerrouj, who produced an amazing 3:43.13. However, the women’s time is just as impressive with 4:12:33 ran by Sifan Hassan.

The time of Hicham El Guerrouj though just showed the progress of the event. In 1913 the International Association of Athletics Federation finally recognized the event and since then the fastest mile times have slowly decreased.

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In 1913 the first recognized mile time was that of John Paul Jones who ran 4:14.4 and since then the times started decreasing slowly until John Walker of New Zealand became the first man to break the 3minute 50sec mark, running 3:49.4 in 1975.

Through the 1980s the English runners continued to dominate the fastest mile times in the world, with runners such as Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram and Steve Ovett dropping the world record. That was until 1993 where Noureddine Morceli ran a staggering 3:44.39 to become the first person to break 3 mins 45 secs for the mile, followed by

And that’s where the current world record of 3:43.13 by Hicham El Guerrouj stands today.

How To Run A 4 Minute Mile?

How To Run A 4 Minute Mile?

Many developing runners dream of running under four minutes, but how easy is it to run a four minute mile? Here we look at the facts.

Firstly there are some indications of what it takes to run a 4 minute mile. You will need to be able to run under 1:52 at the minimum for 800m. Some runners such as John Landy have cut it fine with a 1:51.3 and went on to run a 3:58 mile. While others such as Noureddine Morceli have a much faster 800m time of 1:43.99, but this also shows in his sub 3:45 mile.

So to have the biggest chance of running under 4 minutes you will need to run 1:50 or less over the 800m to produce a sub-four mile.

In terms of the 1500m distance, the mile is often calculated based on your 1500m time plus 17 secs. This means if you currently run 3:40:00 over 1500m your estimated time for the mile is 3:57:00 or thereabouts.

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There are some other factors that play a large role in how to run a 4 minute mile. This comes down to pacing and strategy set by the pacemakers during the event. So while it may be possible based on your fitness, you may still not be able to go under the time if the pacing is off.

Sub 4 Minute Mile List

Below is the top 24 sub 4 minute mile list. Please not this is outdoor track times and does not include indoor times.

Time Athlete Nation Date
03:43.13 Hicham El Guerrouj Morocco 1999
03:43.40 Noah Ngeny Kenya 1999
03:44.39 Noureddine Morceli Algeria 1993
03:46.32 Steve Cram Great Britain 1985
03:46.38 Daniel Komen Kenya 1997
03:46.70 Vénuste Niyongabo Burundi 1997
03:46.76 Saïd Aouita Morocco 1987
03:46.91 Alan Webb United States 2007
3:47.01i Yomif Kejelcha Ethiopia 2019
03:47.28 Bernard Lagat Kenya 2001
03:47.32 Ayanleh Souleiman Djibouti 2014
03:47.33 Sebastian Coe Great Britain 1981
03:47.65 Laban Rotich Kenya 1997
03:47.69 Steve Scott United States 1982
03:47.79 José Luis González Spain 1985
03:47.88 John Kibowen Kenya 1997
03:47.88 Silas Kiplagat Kenya 2014
03:47.94 William Chirchir Kenya 2000
03:47.97 Dahame Najem Bashir Qatar 2005
03:48.17 Paul Korir Kenya 2003
03:48.23 Ali Saidi-Sief Algeria 2001
03:48.28 Daniel Kipchirchir Komen Kenya 2007
03:48.38 Andrés Manuel Díaz Spain 2001
03:48.40 Steve Ovett Great Britain 1981
03:48.40 William Kemei Kenya 1992


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