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Tactical Fitness: Pushing a 7 Minute Mile to a 6 Minute Mile

Running on grass

Hello Stew!

I want to attend Marine OCS next summer but my running time is holding me back a bit – it's 24 minutes for 3 miles. I can max the pull-ups and crunches but would love to drop my 3 mile time at least 2-3 minutes. Do you have any plans or suggestions to help?

Sure do.  First, you have likely built a decent foundation of running, so working up to running 3 miles should not be difficult. You are feeling no pain I assume?

If you are good to go on that front, it is time to add some pacing drills to build up your running speed and VO2max.

Here are some of my favorite running workouts that will help you bring your 8 minute mile to a 7 minute mile.  Once you get to a 7 minute mile, and that is easy, you can push to the next level: the 6 minute mile and maxing the USMC 3 mile run!

Main Workout for Pacing at first.  Learn the new pace: Warmup run 1 mile, any pace Repeat 10 times 1/4 mile at 7 min mile pace (1:45) (no faster / no slower) rest 50 seconds

Cool down run 1 mile at any pace

As you progress, you can do 1/2 mile distances, 3/4 mile distances, and mile repeats at your new goal pace. Repeat as many times as you can and rest 50% of the time it takes you to run.

Mix in some leg PT as well because the two things that will get tired are your lungs and your legs.

Repeat 6 times 1/2 mile at goal pace (3:30) squats 20 lunges 10/leg light stretch if needed Sprint / Jog Workouts:  This will take you off your pace BUT push your heart rate as the goal is to get really winded and try to recover with a jog (not a walk).

1 mile warmup jog Repeat 4 times 1/4 mile SPRINT 1/4 mile jog Repeat 8 times 1/8 mile SPRINT 1/8 mile job

1 mile cooldown run 

I would do each one of these types of workouts a week. If you prefer, you can add in another goal pace drill workout. Also add in a steady, slower paced (LSD - Long Slow Distance) run to maintain your distance ability.

If you have any issues with pain, try to stretch, foam roll soft tissue, or rest and go with non-impact options if needed.

Tabata Intervals are some good non-impact VO2max workouts, and they can be done on bikes, elliptical, or rowers too.

The goal is to push for about 7-8 minutes of a 20 second sprint followed by a 10 seconds easy – do this for 7-8 minutes.  Stop, stretch, and loosen up and repeat again until you have nothing left in the tank.  Pushing the next minute faster on your mile pace runs requires to push yourself even when not running.

Some other options: 3-5 mile Timed Run Workout

Good luck with the next level of running.  Keep pushing!

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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