How to Prepare for the 2 Mile Army Run

How to Prepare for the 2 Mile Army Run

Any soldier has in his vocabulary these four important words: Army Physical Fitness Test (or APFT). This test is mandatory in the United States Army and each solider must pass it at least twice a year. In the Fitness Center articles you can find extremely useful information to prepare for any of part of the test (push-ups, sit-ups and the two-mile run). In this article you will find useful information to train yourself for the running exam using the treadmill as training equipment.

Before I list a sequence of preset treadmill workouts that can be useful during your preparation, I want to focus a little on what the Army Fitness Running Test requirements are.

The running test is in fact a 2 mile run meant to test your leg muscles endurance and your cardio respiratory fitness. The basic rules are pretty simple:

- The faster you run, the better you score.
- You are not allowed to walk
- If you get minimum 60 points to maximum 100 points, you pass.

The scores depend on gender and age. The treadmill workouts recommended in this article can be easily done by men or women between 17 and 31. So I will list the Army standards only for these age groups, which will help when comparing your goals with the treadmill workouts settings. 

For men, the standards for the minimum and maximum time scores are:

Age (17-21) - Minimum (15.54 minutes) -- Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (22-26) - Minimum (16.36 minutes) -- Maximum (13.00 minutes)
Age (27-31) - Minimum (17.00 minutes) -- Maximum (13.18 minutes)

For women the following time score standards apply:

Age (17-21) - Minimum (18.54 minutes) -- Maximum (15.36 minutes)
Age (22-26) - Minimum (19.36 minutes) -- Maximum (15.36 minutes)
Age (27-31) - Minimum (20.30 minutes) -- Maximum (15.48 minutes)

If you consider that you can run at a constant pace for 2 miles, the Army standards can be translated into these speed goals:

For Men:

Age (17-21) - Minimum pace: 7.73 mph -- Max pace: 9.24 mph
Age (22-26) - Minimum pace: 7.34 mph -- Max pace: 9.24 mph
Age (27-31) - Minimum pace: 7.1 mph -- Max pace: 9.15 mph

For Women:

Age (17-21) - Minimum pace: 6.48 mph -- Max pace: 7.82 mph
Age (22-26) - Minimum pace: 6.2 mph -- Max pace: 7.82 mph
Age (27-31) - Minimum pace: 6 mph -- Max pace: 7.76 mph

Once you have your goals set and you know how fast you want to run, you can begin the preparation.

Now, no matter what goals you have set for yourself, the beginning is always hard. As a beginner you have to start with a simple exercise: run at your own pace, and in the process learn to understand your body. You can use the treadmill manual mode to test how long you can resist, and at what pace. Pay attention to your pains and learn how to prevent them in time so you don't hurt yourself. Learn how to breathe rhythmically and lift your knees. And very important, alternate test runs with rest. Any beginner needs 5-6 weeks to get his body accustomed to this sport. And during this time you don't have to overdo it.

From the 7th week you can start preparing for the 2 mile test seriously.

At this step, this is what you need to know. The most efficient running workouts are those based on Intervals. Interval workouts (or speed based exercises) have all the ingredients needed to improve your muscles endurance and your cardiovascular system performance. And this is exactly what the Army Physical Fitness exam tests you for.

All treadmills have preset Interval Workouts included, with different difficulty levels to choose from. The speed value is usually preset in the consoles memory and the workouts settings are different from one treadmill to another.

Below you will find a series of Interval workouts that can prepare you for this test so you can pass it. The workouts speed values are based on the preset interval workouts included in my treadmill console.

If your treadmill doesn't have the same speed values for preset Interval Workouts, you can create your own custom workout very easily (this is another option most treadmills come with).

Level 1 Interval Workout (for beginners):

Warm up: 1.0 mph speed for 2 minutes and 1.5 mph speed for another 2minutes

Workout:
Segment 1: 2.0 mph for 90 seconds
Segment 2: 4 mph for 30 seconds
Repeat segment 1-2 for 24 times (48 minutes) to finish the 2 mile run.

Cool down: at 1.5 mph for 2 minutes than at 1.0 mph for another 2 minutes

Yes, this is a terrible result, but it's very useful for beginners. You don't need to get injured from your first week of hard training. If you feel you can do it, increase the speed values slowly.

After a few weeks, you can start following this workouts routine:

Level 6 Interval Workout (for intermediate runners):

Warm up: 1.5 mph speed for 2 minutes and 2.3 mph speed for another 2 minutes.

Workout:
Segment 1: 3.0 mph for 90 seconds
Segment 2: 6.5 mph for 30 seconds
Repeat segment 1-2 for 16 times (32 minutes) to finish the 2 mile run.

Cool down: at 2.3 mph for 2 minutes than at 1.5 mph for another 2 minutes.

When you finish this exercise and you feel you can take more, it means you are ready to increase the interval difficulty until you can finish the 2 mile run in less than 20 minutes. Following a consistent training routine you will be able to do this exercise:

Level 10 Interval Workout (for advanced runners):

Warm up: 2 mph speed for 2 minutes and 3 mph speed for another 2minutes.

Workout:
Segment 1: 6.2 mph for 90 seconds
Segment 2: 7.6 mph for 30 seconds
Repeat segment 1-2 for 10 times (20 minutes) to finish the 2 mile run.

Cool down: at 3 mph for 2 minutes than at 2 mph for another 2 minutes.

Mathematically at the end of this workout you can finish the 2 mile run in 18.3 seconds (these values are with approximation).

Comparing this data with the women standard scores from above, it means you passed.

For men, Level 10 Interval workout speed intensity is different:

Warm up: 2 mph speed for 2 minutes and 3 mph speed for another 2minutes.

Workout:
Segment 1: 7.1 mph for 90 seconds
Segment 2: 9 mph for 30 seconds
Repeat segment 1-2 for 8 times (16 minutes) to finish the 2 mile run.

Cool down: at 3 mph for 2 minutes than at 2 mph for another 2 minutes.

Ideally is to control your heart rate during the interval workouts. This way you can make sure you don't overstress your body by working out at an intensity level you are not yet prepared for.

Another advice is to not skip the warm up and cool down steps, no matter how good in shape you are. This helps to prevent injuries.

In the end I would like to point out that this article is simply meant to provide inspiration for those who want to prepare for the running test, but don't know where to begin. The treadmill is not a 100% replacement for outdoor running and you still need to go on the track to test yourself in an environment similar to the Army Physical Fitness Test requirements. But it's good to know that the treadmill can be a convenient training companion at need.

Treadmills With Preset Military Workouts

This is an article written by Anna Ursu, treadmill user and runner. Find more useful treadmill workouts and tips on her website, RunReviews.

Related Topics

Running and Cardio General Fitness Military PFT Prep Army Workouts Military Workouts Fitness Equipment
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