4 Reasons Why The First Mile Is Always The Hardest

The Runner Beans rounds up the reasons why the first mile can seem like it lasts an eternity as you convince yourself not to turn around.

I can’t be bothered to run. I don’t want to get up out of my warm, cosy bed into the cold dark morning. One missed run won’t hurt. I’ll run later instead.

These are the arguments that go through my head at 5 a.m. when my alarm goes off for my pre-work training run. It sometimes takes a lot of negotiation to get me out of bed, into my trainers and out the front door.

You only have to run 2 miles, then you can come home if you want.

I know that if I can push through that first mile warm up, then I usually fall into the rhythm, find a good pace and start to control my breathing. Once that first mile is over, I know I’ll enjoy the run.

Why is the first mile so hard?

Your muscles are warming up.

You need to give your body the chance to switch from an anaerobic state to an aerobic state—you simply don’t have enough oxygen to keep the pace you want, making you breath harder and struggle to find your speed. As a morning runner, I am often still waking up during my first mile, making it extra tough (although maybe this is a blessing as I hardly know what I’m doing for that first mile!). Add a pre-run warmup in or a set of drills, especially during the colder months, to help ease your body into it.

We often start off too fast or too slow.

How often have you looked down at your watch during that first mile and been shocked by the pace? I swing from Yes, I am so speedy! to Oh my goodness, I might as well be walking with that pace and everywhere in between, usually during that same first mile. I was once told that your body is like a metronome, once you let it find it’s rhythm, it should be able to stick at a comfortable pace for miles at a time, but it takes that first mile to get into the groove.

It takes time to get in the game mentally.

Congratulations, you’ve convinced yourself that going for a run is a good idea, you’ve put on your kit and stepped out of the door, however, the first mile is a good time to mentally prepare yourself for the workout ahead, especially if it’s a speed, tempo or long run.

The endorphins haven’t kicked in.

Although studies are inconclusive about exercise endorphins, some show that for some people they get that exercise high after just 10 minutes of sweating—about the time of that first mile.

So next time you’re through that first mile, remember, it will get easier.