What’s your mile time? Now that’s a question most runners like to answer with pride. Even though races are often measured in kilometers, the mile is a measurement that everyone can relate to. Your mile time has deep meaning, both emotionally and physically.

Austin’s 2008 Olympic 1,500-meter Silver medalist Leo Manzano—who has a personal best of 3:50.64 for the mile—recalls the first time he broke the four-minute barrier, which is still considered a significant accomplishment.

“It was in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2005,” recalls Manzano on a Bring Back the Mile podcast. “It was unreal to me; it was unreal to my teammates. I remember just coming across the finish line just wondering if I had broke it. There was a moment, a ten-second moment between the time I finished and the time I was looking at the clock and it just seemed forever. Then it came up and it was flashing 3:59.82 or .84 I believe. Then the crowd went crazy and my teammates rushed me. They picked me up and just went crazy.”

While breaking four minutes will remain in the realm of elite runners, breaking five or six minutes in the mile is a very worthy goal. But what does your mile time actually mean in terms of your ability to do well at longer races? As it turns out, plenty.

The legendary New Zealand runner Rod Dixon ran a 3:53 mile and also won the New York Marathon in 2:08:59.

Just ask the legendary New Zealand runner Rod Dixon. Dixon specialized in middle distances early in his career, and at the age of 25, ran a 3:53 mile. Eight years later, in 1983, he won the New York Marathon in 2:08:59.

Few runners have the range of Dixon, but his model shows us that a strong mile time can translate well to endurance events like the marathon.

Last week at the Austin Mile Challenge, former Rochester Institute of Technology standout Mike Kurvach posted the fastest time of the day with a 4:21. Sarah E. Lancaster posted a 5:05 to claim the top women’s time.

Not surprisingly, Kurvach has also done well at longer distances: he ran 32:42 at this year’s Statesman Capitol 10,000 and has gone 54:21 for 10 miles. And get this: he won the JFK 50 Miler in his first ultrarun.

So yeah, work on your mile time, and you’ll see improvements in your longer races. And guess what? Running longer will improve your mile times too. It’s a win-win situation.

Upcoming races: Saturday, September 9, Hornet Race 5K, 7:30 a.m. at Tom Green Elementary in Buda. Sunday, September 17, CASA Superhero Run 5K, 8:00 a.m. at Domain Central Park. Also Sunday, September 17, LIVESTRONG Honor 5K and 10K 7:30 a.m. at Auditorium Shores in Downtown Austin.