The mile is the great equalizer. Not everyone can run a marathon, but you can likely challenge your friend to a mile race and you’d both be able to finish it with your head held high. It’s funny how something so simple — four laps around a track — can become such a determining factor in life. For many, it was the sole requirement to pass high school gym. If you want to go into the military, you have to be able to run two miles (at the bare minimum) and for the everyday runner, it’s an easy way to figure out what groups you should run with and a basic question that will likely come up when you start running with someone new.
While it might have been a while since you raced a mile, the 1600 is back and stronger than ever. There’s the Fifth Avenue Mile, which goes down — you guessed it — on Fifth Avenue in New York City. There’s the Hoka One One Long Island Mile, the Trackhouse Mile in Boston and the Pine Street Mile in Burlington, Vermont. While you might not have thought about it since you turned 18, signing up for a mile race is an easy way to get back into running or set a competitive goal for yourself. Best of all, you can run and then still get home to have breakfast with the family. Bring Back the Mile is on a mission to spread more miles across the country. It’s an easy way to gather people around the sport, and it’s as fun to watch as it is to participate.
If you’re thinking about signing up for one of these races, you’re going to need a pair of fast shoes to be competitive. When all you have to run is four laps, the lightest-weight sneaker you can fathom is your best bet. Check out our top picks below for taking on the mile, then head out and sign up for a race.
Considering that the shoe weighs 3.9 ounces, it offers an impressive amount of energy return thanks to a propel plate. The durable EVA midsole is comfy for short and long distances, especially considering the foot-shaped toe box. No cramped toes here.
Reebok FloatRide Fast
While not the lightest-weight sneaker in the Reebok line up (check out the FloatRide Run Fast Pro for that), the FloatRide Run Fast still dips under seven ounces with soft and lightweight cushioning underfoot. These will last you through marathon races as well as mile time trials.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%
This shoe arrived with a lot of hype, for good reason. Research shows you can improve your performance by more than four percent just by wearing them. A streamlined design, responsive Nike ZoomX foam and an energy-returning carbon-fiber plate underfoot keep you light on your feet and propel you forward to your next PR.
Saucony Fastwitch 9
One of the less expensive models on this list, the Fastwitch features an engineered mesh upper and an EVA midsole. The PWRTRAC rubber on the outsole shines on the track and the road and doesn’t weigh the shoe down. At just 6.7 ounces, it’s worth taking these for a quick sprint.
New Balance 1400 V6
These road flats are just over seven ounces and built for races. The REVlite outsole is lightweight yet provides enough support for you to race distances up to a marathon. Paired with a breathable mesh upper and a sleek tongue, you’re sure to feel the speed as you sprint through the last 100.
These lightweight racers weigh in at just 6.4 ounces and are filled with BioMoGo DNA foam to provide you with soft cushioning and quick transitions, which will come in handy as you continuously turn left around the track.