A Beginner's Guide To Mile Races

The what, where and how of mile races


Posted: 6 May 2002
by Joe Dunbar

There aren’t many mile races in the normal sense of road racing, but many tracks around the country offer open graded meetings in the summer. These are events open to the public, where you can turn up, race and get an officially-recorded time. The difference between these meets and road races is that there are usually only about 10-12 competitors in each race.

When you go to a meet, if you have not booked in advance, you may be asked to pay a little extra. Prices vary from track to track, but the going rate is about a pound. When you check in you will be given a number, and although pins are often available, it is safest to take your own.

You will be asked what your best time for the distance is. Here it is advisable to be as honest as you can, because you will be put in a heat with runners of similar ability. The advantage here is that you will be in a competitive race, which should pull you to a better time.

Having said that, at meetings you do often see two types of individual, both of whom give fictitious times. One is the ‘glory seeker’, who states a time much worse than his best because he likes to be graded in a race he can win. The other is the ‘ever-hopeful’, who puts down a time above his best in the hope that he will be dragged to a super performance. This is a policy that rarely works, and both individuals are an irritant to the other athletes.

A word of warning: many meetings get a little behind time, so if you are entering a later event, it is wise to take the timetables with a pinch of salt – and be flexible with your warm-up.

Racing on the track is a great experience. There are no medals or prizes at stake, but if you have prepared well and are graded in the correct race, you may well come home with a PB and a great feeling of satisfaction. So pluck up some courage and give it a go – you have little to lose, and it may well help your road races.


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