How an Advanced Track Workout Can Improve Your Military Fitness Test Scores

Soldiers with the Army Reserve’s 75th Training Command participate in a timed, 2-mile run in Houston.
Soldiers with the Army Reserve’s 75th Training Command participate in a timed, 2-mile run as part of a semiannual test of physical fitness in Houston, Friday, April 21, 2017. (Lt. Col. Adam Collett/Army Reserve photo)

Add this track workout once or twice during your training week for a solid mix of speed, agility and endurance. Totaling 4-5 miles of running, it is not for beginners. Still, it is ideal for those seeking to improve timed runs for military fitness tests and sprints and agility for combat fitness tests. You can use many variations with this type of training, but this is how we break it up:

Warm-up: It is recommended to add some leg calisthenics (dynamic stretching) into your jogs and slowly increase speed as you warm up the body:

Repeat 5-10 times.

  • Jog 50 meters (or 2 x 25-meter shuttle run)
  • Air squats 5-10

* Notes on the warm-up (usually, 5-10 is a perfect number to get the kinks out):

  • Increase speed in the latter sets (6-10) but not full speed.
  • Build up to 50 warm-up squats in total.
  • Add shuttle runs if you have them as part of your fitness test/agility workout.

Doing the following on a track or field with known distances is recommended. The setup we have is the track/field is one mile away from our group's meeting point, so part of the warm-up is done on a parking lot, and the mile run is our transit to the track.

Run one mile and lightly stretch.

Repeat 10 times.

  • Run 200 meters fast
  • Walk 30 seconds

The sprints get progressively faster. If you need more rest, take it, but work to build up to 30 seconds of rest as you get into better running shape. If you need to work more on shuttle runs than straightaway speed, focus half of these 200-meter sets on 4 x 25-meter shuttle runs for time.

Timed Run Test

Whatever your timed run is, do it. Usually, the 1.5-, two- or three-mile timed run is the distance you will test, depending on your branch of service and running goals. Today, we focused on the 1.5-mile timed run. But I also gave the group a training option for goal-paced running for their timed run distance. You can choose 6 x 400-meter runs at goal mile pace, 3 x 800-meter runs at goal mile pace or 2 x 1,200-meters at goal mile pace.

Option for speed/agility section for the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT: Bring two 40-pound kettlebells to track)

Repeat twice (Sprint, drag, carry of ACFT).

  • Run 2 x 25 meters fast
  • Kettlebell farmer's carry 2 x 25 meters
  • Buddy drag (or sled if available) 2 x 25 meters
  • Run 2 x 25 meters fast
  • Rest with 400-meter jog

Leg stamina: If no extra equipment is available, but you have a nearby hill or bleachers, try the following: Run hills, stairs or bleachers nonstop for 15 minutes.

Run one mile back to the starting point.

Cooldown section: Reverse pyramid 10-1 with dynamic/static stretches in-between.

If you have time later, add in a 30- to 45-minute ruck (or faster) if you need to work at your rucking pace.

Ruck 2-3 miles with 40-50 pounds.

This is one of many track days you can do in your week to focus on a wide range of skills and energy systems you will need to develop to crush any fitness test and any follow-on advanced training.

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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