Archived: The 3-Mile Struggle


Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am I’m a relatively new runner, less than 3 years. In that time I’ve run eight half marathons and one full. I’m currently using your Intermediate 2 program to train for Long Beach in October. My concern is, how do I get through the hard first three miles? Seriously, I have the hardest time with those early miles. I pant, get the occasional side stitch, and all around hate that first 30 minutes of running. Then I feel my body completely change at mile 3, and I love it. I’ve only had to walk one time during a half marathon, but I still must fight the desire to walk in the early miles. Is there something I can do about this, or should I just live with it? I love my long runs, but just wish I could jump to mile 3 right away.


Why can’t you jump to mile 3 right away? It’s easy: Warm up! I can guarantee you that almost no track athlete would start a race at any distance between 100 and 10,000 meters without a thorough warm-up. At least an hour’s worth of structured muscle-warming and probably about 3 miles of jogging, if you add up all the stop-and-go. Because they do not have backgrounds in the sport of track & field, because they never ran cross-country in high school, this lesson never gets learned by many road runners. You don’t need to warm up by running 3 miles, but jog a mile, stretch, do some easy strides, some more jogging, then go to the line with a 3-mile attitude. Naturally, you will want to practice warming up before several of your workouts, before trying it in a race.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

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