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Improvers’ plan

Improvers’ eight-week training plan

If you’ve run a mile before and are looking to get faster, this programme for more experiences runners could be for you. Designed by coach and author Sam Murphy, the plan culminates in a mile time trial at the end of the eighth week – perfect if you’re planning to go for a PB at the Vitality Westminster Mile!

Using the improvers’ training plan

Ideally you should aim to space out the three sessions each week, rather than doing them on consecutive days, to allow yourself time to rest and recover. Any other weekly sessions you feel like adding in (not compulsory!) should be run at an easy pace, with the distance dependent on your experience.

Here’s a list of the terminology the plan uses, and what certain phrases mean, in case you’re not familiar with them…

Easy: running at a controlled, relaxed pace.

Strides: fast but relaxed effort over a short distance to help set up good form and ease you into speedwork.

CMP: your current mile pace.

Jog/walk: if this feels too short, take longer. If it feels too long, reduce it – but only if you can sustain the same speed from the first repetition to the last.

Tempo: the pace you can sustain for approximately an hour – usually between 10K or half-marathon race pace, depending on your ability.

3-5K pace: this is typically 15 to 40 seconds per mile slower than your mile pace.

Hill sprints: these are about developing speed and power – don’t pick too steep a gradient.


Week 1

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 3 x 5 mins at tempo with 60-90 secs jog/walk Easy run up to 80 mins plus 4 x 60m strides
4-6 x 60m strides 2-4 x 200m at CMP with 200m
8-12 x 30 secs at CMP with 60 secs jog/walk  
1-2 miles easy

Week 2

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 2 x 15 mins at tempo with 3 mins jog/walk Easy run up to 80 mins
4-6 x 60m strides 2-4 x 200m at CMP with 200m jog/walk
8-10 x 45 secs at CMP with 90 secs jog/walk
1-2 miles easy

Week 3

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 1-2 miles easy Easy run up to 45 mins
4-6 x 60m strides 3-5 x 4 mins at 5K pace with 3 min jog/walk
6-8 x 60 secs at CMP with 2 mins jog/walk 1-2 miles easy
1-2 miles easy

Week 4

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 1 mile easy Easy run up to 80 mins plus 5 x 60m strides
4-6 x 60m strides 4 x 60m strides
8-16 x 200m at CMP with 400m jog/walk 1 x 1200m time trial (record your time)
1-2 miles easy 1 mile easy

Week 5

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 2 x 15 mins tempo pace with 2 min jog/walk Easy run up to 90 mins
 4-6 x 60m strides 2-4 200m CMP with 200m jog/walk
4-8 x 400m at CMP with 400m jog/walk

Week 6

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 1-2 miles easy 5K or 10K event
4-6 x 60m strides 4-6 x 3 mins at 3K pace with 2 mins jog/walk recovery
4-8 x 200m at 1200m pace with 200m jog/walk 4-6 x 60m strides OR 4-6 x 10-sec hill sprints
2 x 400m at CMP with 400m jog/walk
2 x 200m at 1200m pace with 200m jog/walk
1-2 miles easy

Week 7

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 20-30 mins at tempo pace Easy run up to 90 mins
4-6 x 60m strides 2-4 x 200m CMP with 200m jog/walk OR 5-7 x 10-sec hill sprints
3-5 x 600m at CMP with 600m jog/walk
1-2 miles easy

Week 8

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
1-2 miles easy 45 mins easy run The Vitality Westminster Mile!
6-8 x 1 min at 3-5K pace with 1 min jog/walk; 1-2 miles easy 4-6 x 60m strides
1-2 miles easy