Take 2:00 Off Your PFT Mile

by Stew Smith

An Army Officer emailed me with a goal of dropping two minutes off his mile run pace. This is not a tough goal to achieve if you are presently running a 10:00 mile and have a goal of 8:00 mile pace. However, as you can imagine, it gets much tougher going from 8:00 mile pace to 6:00 mile pace or faster. But the 10:00 to 8:00 pace can actually be done in less than a few months as long as you are not new to running.

If you are a beginner, you should always ramp up distance, pace, and intensity over a six to eight week period as described in the chart below:

Running Plan I - Beginning Runners

Wk Mon Tues
1 1-2 mile Bike or swim
2 2-3 miles Bike or swim
3* Bike or swim Bike or swim
4 3 miles Bike or swim
5 2 miles 3 miles
6 2-3 miles 3-4 miles

Wk Weds Thurs Fri
1 1-2 mile Bike or swim 1-2 mile
2 2-3 miles Bike or swim 2-3 miles
3* Bike or swim Bike or swim Bike or swim
4 3 miles Bike or swim 3 miles
5 off 4 miles 2 miles
6 off 4-5 miles 2-3 miles

*Do not run during Week 3 - bike or swim everyday. There is a high risk of injury to beginners.

For more experienced but slower runners, going from 10:00 to 8:00 mile pace is best done with the following recommendations:

Wk Mon Tues Weds
1-4 2 miles 1/4 mile at goal pace 6-8x's No Running - rest or PT
5-8 2 miles 1/4 mile at goal pace 4-5x's No Running - rest or PT, swim, bike

Wk Thurs Fri Saturday
1-4 2 mile timed & 2 miles jog PACE DAY - 3 miles of intervals at goal pace Long run: 4-6 miles easy pace
5-8 2 miles timed & 2 miles jog PACE DAY - 4 miles of intervals at goal pace Long run: 4-6 miles easy pace

Here is an explanation of the chart:

Mondays

Run two miles, but try for as long as you can to run at your goal pace -- chart progress each week on how far you were able to maintain goal pace. The chart below will help you figure out your goal pace at the intervals recommended in this running plan:

Intervals Goal mile pace: 8:00 Goal mile pace: 7:00 Goal mile pace: 6:00
1/2 mile intervals 4:00 3:30 3:00
1/4 mile intervals 2:00 1:45 1:30
1/8 mile intervals 1:00 52 seconds 45 seconds

To ace the running portion of any PFT, it is most important to learn your pace. Recognize breathing, arm swing, leg stride, foot strikes and create muscle memory of exactly how you should feel when you are running at your goal pace. As you get into better shape, you should feel better throughout the running event.

Note: One day a week you should push the speed limit and do a series of faster than pace runs:

Six Week Running Program for the 1.5-2 Mile Timed Run Test

Tuesdays

Intervals will help you build your VO2 max and foot speed to better learn your goal pace. On a few of the interval runs, try to run one to two miles at faster-than-goal pace just to push your limit. After each interval run, walk or slow jog for a recovery for one to two minutes. During the second month, increase your distance but keep the pace the same. Shoot for 1/2 mile intervals at goal pace.

Wednesday - Day off

Swim or rest. Do your PT exercises today as well as every other day as recommended in any of the PT articles in the article archive and at the Military.com Fitness eBook store.

Thursday

Two mile timed run or two mile jog. Test yourself on Thursday, after a day off of running. If your PFT distance is 1.5 miles or 3 miles (USN, USCG, USAF, or USMC respectively), run that distance required for your services PFT followed by a jog of the same distance.

Fridays

Learn your PACE. All runs no matter what the distance - 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 miles, 1/4, 1/2 miles etc are to be done at your goal pace. Work up to three miles of running for as long as you can at your goal pace. Once you fall off your pace, stop, walk and recover for two minutes and continue running shorter intervals until you reach a total distance of three miles.

Saturday

Long run Saturday: 4-6 miles easy pace. Have a nice leisurely run at slow moderate pace and stretch well after each running session.

Sunday - Day off

As you can see, the best way to get better or faster at running is to practice running. This routine is aggressive but doable, and should only take 20-40 minutes on most weekdays.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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