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Orangetheory 12-minute Run for Distance (Explained & Goals )

One of my close friends, Amelia, recently completed a 12-minute run for distance OTF. She skipped class every time there was a 12-minute run for distance benchmark. She didn’t think that she could run for a straight 12 minutes. Last month, Wednesday, she decided to try it with a goal of 1 mile. So she skipped class yesterday to rest. Starting, she still didn’t think that she could do it. She had to talk herself through it. But she DID IT!! She’s beyond proud of herself. She won’t skip it on purpose anymore.

What is Orangetheory’s 12-Minute Run for a Distance?

Why is a 12-minute run such a big deal in Orangetheory, and what is it all about anyway? Primarily, the 12-minute run in Orangetheory is one of the fitness company’s benchmark exercises that runs occasionally. The benchmark’s target is to get you to see how far you can run, power walk, and ride on a fitness bike or a strider for 12 minutes.

So 12-minute run for distance is to see how far you can get in 12 min…either running/jogging/power walking/biking/striding. And Your distance will get recorded in your app, and you can try to match or beat it next time it comes up!

Interestingly, Orangetheory allows you to run for more than 12 minutes in a regular class. However, the 12-minute run always seems like the most formidable challenge you encounter on the treadmill or its station alternatives (strider and bike).

Can You Power Walk in the 12-Minute Run for Distance Benchmark?

Absolutely! You can power walk it on a 4% incline in the 12-minute mark for distance benchmark. After all, the main aim of the 12-minute benchmark is to see how far you can go on the treadmill in 12 minutes. 

Therefore, you can run or power walk, depending on your preference. People who prefer not to use the treadmill can use the strider or exercise bike during the benchmark.

Usually, the distance you make in one 12-minute benchmark will be recorded in your Orangetheory PR (personal record) for the same exercise. Then, you can try to beat it on your next benchmark challenge. Therefore, if you power walk 0.7 miles in this 12-minute benchmark, you will do your best to outdo this benchmark the next time you power walk in a 12-minute challenge.

Goals of 12-Minute Run for Distance

People have different goals for the 12-minute distance. It all depends on your base, push, and all-out pace.

  • Base: the speed you can comfortably hold
  • Push: the speed that makes you pretty uncomfortable
  • All-out: the pace that gets you to ’empty your tank’.

The way you pull out these three speeds will determine your final goal.

For example, if your average speed from the base, push, and all-out is 5.5 mph, your final distance should be 1.1 miles. You may decide to use this PR to set a goal for your next 12-minute benchmark. Therefore, if you increase your average speed to 6 mph, your total distance and PR will be 1.2.

Usually, runners have the highest goals, ranging between 1.3 to above 2 miles, depending on the person. Joggers trail closely behind, with goals that range between 0.9 to above 1.3 miles. Power walkers target a distance of between 0.7 to 0.9 miles in 12 minutes. Nonetheless, this benchmark is only average, and it is okay to have one that is lower or higher depending on your overall health, fitness level, and athletic prowess.

There is a 12-minute planner you can use to determine your goals, which takes into account the base, push, and all-out speed.

My last 12-minute benchmark flow was as follows (I am an average runner), as per most Orangetheory instructors;

  • Base: 6.5 mph for 3 minutes
  • Push: 6.5 mph for 6 minutes 
  • All-out: 6.5 mph for the final 3 minutes. (I prefer going for a consistent pace rather than a slow-and-increase kind of pace ever since I learned that it is easier to manage in the long run).

This flow gave me a PR of 1.3 miles.

However, you can opt for a lower base and increase the speed over the course of the session. For example;

  • Base: 5.5 mph for 3 minutes
  • Push: 6.5 mph for 6 minutes 
  • All-out: 7.5 mph for the final 3 minutes to get a final PR of 1.275.

Related: What to Wear to Orangetheory (OTF Dress Code)?

12-Minute Run for Distance chart (Pacing Guide)

As mentioned earlier, the 12-minute run incorporates base, push, and all-out pacing

It is advisable to divide your benchmark into quarters of 3 minutes, which makes it more achievable. Consequently;

  • The base in the first 3 minutes sets the pace.
  • Within minutes 3-6, you feel uncomfortable in the push.
  • In minutes 6 to 9, you literally feel like giving up, but it’s only 3 minutes anyway, so you should push through.
  • In minutes 9 to 12, empty all else you have left and do your best to hit your target PR.

Over and above that, I have severally heard and experienced it myself that the more you change pace, the more you subscribe to fatigue. For example, if you want to take an average pace of 7, you can decide to keep the pace between 6 and 8 and still average 7 mph. However, this flow will drain you and might even keep you from a lasting consistency. 

On the contrary, you can take on the 7 mph pace and take the run from start to finish. While it may be uncomfortable, it becomes easier to maintain in the long run.

On top of that, if you already have a set milestone in mind, here is a pacing guide that will help you through:

Runners’ Benchmark Goals range from 1.3 to 2.4 miles;

Speed (Mph)Distance (miles)
6.5 mph1.3 miles
7.0 mph1.4 miles
7.5 mph1.5 miles
8.0 mph1.6 miles
8.5 mph1.7 miles
9.0 mph1.8 miles
9.5 mph1.9 miles
10.0 mph2.0 miles
10.5 mph2.1 miles
11.0 mph2.2 miles
11.5 mph2.3 miles
12 mph2.4 miles

Joggers’ Benchmark Goals range from 0.9 miles to 1.3 miles;

Speed (Mph)Distance (miles)
4.5 mph0.9 miles
5.0 mph1.0 miles
5.5 mph1.1 miles
6.0 mph1.2 miles
6.5 mph1.3 miles

Power Walkers’ Goals Range from approximately 0.7 to 0.9 miles;

Speed (Mph)Distance (miles)
3.5 mph0.7 miles
4.0 mph0.8 miles
4.5 mph0.9 miles

12-Minute Run Strategy and Tips

Despite the seemingly short time, 12 minutes of running can be tasking and even unachievable if one has no strategy.

“Do your best to relax your body, shoulders pulled down and back, keep your eyes straight ahead to keep your airway clear, and then it’s all about breathing. Big deep breaths in with mouth and nose, and out through the mouth like your blowing out candles. Have fun and fuel up.”

Coach Neal

However, it is challenging, fun, and worth looking forward to if you have tips such as the ones below;

  • First off, have personal goals regardless of what you see in class. After all, the goal of the 12-minute walk is to compete against your last PR. as long as you can see an improvement in yourself, then you are acing it.
  • Always aim for a higher PR than your previous benchmark challenge. Actually, users who start with a power walk and have no health challenges can aim for a jog and, finally, a run for an improvement with the benchmark.
  • Set goals that are achievable to avoid demoralization.
  • Once the 12-minute run benchmark date is announced, start preparing for it. Do your best in regular classes to determine what your PR should be during the benchmark.
  • Maintain a specific pace for the better part of the session, which will help avoid too much work shifting from one pace to another.

Increase Your Run Duration Tips for Beginners

We all go to Orangetheory benchmark challenges because we feel if pushed to the limits, we can hit certain targets. Interestingly, once we hit the target, we tend to target a higher target, which creates fun in the challenges.

So, how can one increase their distance in the 12-minute benchmark?

  • Practice the ‘what happens in Orangetheory doesn’t stay in Orangetheory’. Ensure that you continue practicing in regular classes and at home to ensure that you improve your pace and can hold a power walk, jog, or run for at least 12 minutes. Therefore, during the next challenge, you will definitely increase your run.
  • Take on lower-body strength exercises to build lower-body endurance. The exercises help prevent faster fatigue and enable your body to take on a faster pace without risking injury or weakness you can’t handle.
  • Compete against yourself or friends within your fitness level range for a fun and motivating challenge.
  • Note that everyone starts from somewhere, and we are all different. Therefore, do not be intimidated by how your neighbor performs in class against you. Rather, this can be a motivation that you can do better if you practice more in the future, especially if you are physically healthy.
  • Finally, notice that the cardio exercise is energy-intensive. Therefore, eat healthy foods that keep your body energetic and fit for the benchmark challenge.


Orangetheory’s 12-minute run gives you the freedom to determine the distance you can power walk or run in 12 minutes. It is an occasional benchmark challenge, giving you a chance to outdo yourself on the treadmill.

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Written by

Jennifer Lewis

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