PFT Run Workouts

Reservist sprints to finish of run during the Army physical fitness test.
Army Reserve Spc. Julian Ditona, a multi-channel transmission systems operator/maintainer, assigned to the 98th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 335th Signal Command (Theater), sprints to the finish line of a two-mile run during the Army physical fitness test at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, March 27, 2017. (Sgt. 1st Class Brent C. Powell/U.S. Army Reserve photo)

Most of the time, I receive emails from people who are seeking to pass their physical fitness test, and just as many who wish to max out their PFT scores for their age group. Check out the "Ace Any Military PFT" article for more information.

Every now and then, I get emails from people who are training to run even faster than they already are. These are the runners who are trying to break a pace of 5-6 minutes per mile and are usually Marines who want to run faster than 18 minutes on the three-mile run, or Army Rangers or Special Forces guys who want to hit 11-12 minutes for the two-mile run.

I have been working on some training regimens for speed building and have discussed many different ways to accomplish this goal with collegiate and Olympic runners in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter and five-kilometer events. It seems from my trial and error and recent research that the way to tackle this speedy goal is twofold.

Be an avid runner before building speed

Building a foundation of 20-25 miles a week of running is considered to be foundation enough to start pushing your own envelope of speed. Check out the "Running Plan for Marathons" article to see how to build your foundation if you are not up to that mileage yet.

Use interval training to increase speed

It seems that interval training will help you increase your foot speed, build your VO2 max and make your PFT distance running at faster paces more comfortable. This means you are getting in better shape. See the "Interval Training for the PFT Run" article on how to implement speed training with your running schedule.

Here are some intense intervals to help you with your training for crushing the PFT run or 5K and 10K contests:

Workout #1

Run one mile easy/stretch

Repeat 8-10 times

Run a quarter-mile at 10-20 seconds under current mile pace

Jog slow or walk one minute

Say you are running 1.5 miles in nine minutes, which equals a six-minute mile pace and 90 seconds for a quarter-mile. Try to hit these quarter-mile intervals at 70-80 seconds. The benefits are increased foot speed and building VO2 max.

Workout #2

Run one mile easy/stretch

Repeat five times

Run half-mile at 10 seconds under current mile pace

Jog slow or walk two minutes

Workout #3

Run one mile easy/stretch

Run one mile at 10 seconds above current mile pace

Jog two minutes slow

Run one mile at current mile pace

Jog two minutes slow

Run one mile at 10 seconds faster than current mile pace

Cooldown jog for five minutes


Workout #4

Run five minutes/warmup/stretch

Sprint one minute, followed by one-minute slow jog, for 30 minutes.

Try these workouts during the next month. Use two or three of the above workouts each week, mixed with your normal pace jogging on other running days. You will see your timed runs drop significantly.

Running and Cardio Articles

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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