2 Mile Run Tips for Military and Civilians

Are you searching for a better way to run faster in your 2 mile run? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I know some of you seeing this article may be military as well. I spent just over 20 years on active duty. So, understand that you may be seeking to lower your 2 mile run time. My goal with this post is to share with your some brief tips to help you get to the next level in your training.

The 2 miler is a highly anaerobic event. The problem I see with a lot of military and civilian athletes is they are running too slow, too often during the week. What we want is to start using leverage. Leverage simply means doing more with less. You already know how to work hard. How many hard working military members or civilians do you know who still miss their 2-mile pace goals? I have known many.

2 Mile Run Training Plan

I have created 2 mile run training plans here at RunDreamAchieve. I always advise to my athletes to focus on a 4-6 week build of easy base mileage first. The reason being is you need to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments before trying to run at faster paces. It takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load you are pacing on it. So, the process of lowering your 2 mile run time is one that demands patience on your part.

I ran 9:46 for 3200m (8 laps) in high school and eventually ran 2-miles in 9:27 as a collegiate athlete. As mentioned above, I also spent over 20 years on active duty in the military. So, experienced the old APFT and new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). I scored a high of 383 points on the old APFT with a 9:55 3200m run during the test itself. Of course, the 2-mile distance wasn’t my best event but it was the start of my running career.

The goal with this post and the new course I am creating for 2 milers is to help speed up your learning curve. Below are some 2 miler strategies that I hope will assist you in your future “PT” tests.

2 Mile Run APFT Tips

Invest in a Pair of Racing Flats

I have lost count of the number of Soldiers I saw wearing training shoes during their APFT and AFCT tests. Remember, the less weight on your feet when running at Vo2 max effort, the better. Yes, you will have to be in great anaerobic shape in order to run a fast 2 miler. That being said, you also need to pay attention to the other details that go into running a fast 2 mile run time.

2 mile run
Finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (5:19 mile pace or 13 back-to-back 2-miles in 10:38 each)

I highly recommend looking into the On Cloud Echo and Nike Zoom Next% shoes. These shoes contain carbon plates and will help convert kinetic energy into forward propulsion with each stride. Yes, you will be at a huge advantage going up against any other athletes not wearing theses shoes.

Implement Strides Into Your Easy Runs

Strides are too short to build up any significant lactic acid. The reason being is they are simply too short. Remember, the idea with strides is to focus on acceleration and working on your form at higher speeds. I recommend doing 4-6x100m strides before, during or after your easy runs. You can do these 2 to 3 times per week. Are you just getting back into shape? Focus on doing them once per week and add an additional day every 3 weeks.

Why are strides important? You will have spent several miles or kilometers at sprint paces over a long period of time. In addition, you will have done these workouts on top of your other training. I can guarantee that a large percentage of military as well as civilian athletes you will be racing will not pay attention to this. So, start implementing these into your weekly routine. You will gradually start to see the difference. More importantly, they will help you in that timed 2 mile run.

Run Longer at Your Anaerobic Threshold

Pace sustainment is the goal here. I have seen many Soldiers and civilians alike go out far too aggressive too early in their races. You do not want to go into oxygen debt as I am sure you have experienced in the past. The goal here is to train the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the body. The only way to do this is to spend more time training at a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate.

Your anaerobic threshold is around 86 to 88% of your maximum heart rate. Are you just getting back into shape? If so, you may focus on running at AT effort for 3 to 5 minutes. As you get fitter you can extend the duration to 3 to 4 miles.

How much more confidence will you have if you run at this effort further than your goal race distance? So, the focus always need to be on periodization. I have created 2 mile training plans, running courses and coach runners online. So, there are resources here to help you significantly improve your 2 miler run times.

Run Longer

How badly do you want to succeed? I knew many athletes who wanted to run fast 2 mile times in the military. The problem was I saw far less that actually were willing to put in the work in order to make it a reality.

You have to be willing to do more than what your Platoon Leader or Platoon Sergeant desire out of you. The fact is many times Soldiers are not running enough. Yes, they are very strong and have strength endurance. That being said, their cardiovascular strength doesn’t match the stamina they have with flipping tires, chin ups and other exercises.

Remember, push ups and sit ups are great. That being said, they aren’t going to help you sustain race pace in a 2 mile. So, you need to also run longer. Yes, running easy is still important. How better prepared would you be if you worked your way up to a 8 to 10 mile long run (or further)? Would a 2 mile run feel easier? Of course. What has been your longest long run so far? How many miles or kilometers per week have you been putting in? If you are running twice per week you need to do your homework.

Work On Running Faster Long Runs

Military members are some of the most disciplined athletes out there. That being said, we can still be soft when it comes to running. I have heard every excuse in the book including a Soldier who told me he knew a guy that ran a 2-mile in his former platoon in 7:40. New flash folks…

The world record for the 2-mile distance was set by Daniel Komen or Kenya who ran an absurd 7:58.61. The man averaged 3:59 for both of his miles. In fact, he is the only man in history to have ever broken 8 minutes for the 2-mile. The second fastest time in history is 8:01 run by Haile Gebressalassie of Ethiopia, respectfully.

Ole boy did not run a 7:40, sorry. Faster, varied paced long runs are not pleasant. You will need to work into doing these. I always recommend doing a faster long run one weekend followed the next by an easy, relaxed long run. Again, you have to be strategic to improve your 2 mile run time. Remember, it takes 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress you are placing on body. So, you the benefits of the hard training you are putting in today will be seen several days from now.

Focus on Speed Development

You need to be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. Your vo2 max is your maximum oxygen uptake. We can only run a few seconds to minutes at this type of effort. You are running at between 95 to 100% of your maximum heart rate at these intensities.

Below are some examples of vo2 max workouts that Soldiers or civilians need to be doing in order to improve their 2 mile run time. These examples are for someone who is seeking to break the 10 minute 2-mile barrier.

  • 1 mile warm-up, 12x200m@33-37sec with 60sec rest, 1 mile cool-down
  • 2 mile warm-up, 10-14x400m@1:13-17 with 2 minutes rest, 1 mile cool-down
  • 1 mile warm-up, 20x1min hard@175BPM followed by 1 min easy@130-50BPM, 2 mile cool-down
  • 1 mile warm-up, 4×1 mile@5:15 with 2-3 minutes rest between reps, 1 mile cool-down

You will need to give yourself more time to rest between reps when just getting started. Of course, we know this. The good news is as you get fitter your splits will quicken and you will need less rest in between reps. The body always adapts.

Run EASY on Easy Days

You may need anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to recover from the harder training you do. In fact, some athletes may need up to 3 days of easy running before they hit their next cardiovascular workout. Strength training is important too but focus on light weights and high reps. The problem I have seen in the military is Soldiers are simply not running enough. Yes, they are in the gym and have that down. That being said, they are struggling to maintain their goal 2 mile race pace during the run.

What is the problem? I ask them how many days a week they are running and its usually 2 to 3 times a week. When? Well, during the runs they are doing in their morning PT sessions. I know because I saw what the leaders had me doing. It simply isn’t enough.

The faster you want to run the more that is going to be required out of you. I would do the 2 to 3 miles we ran in our morning PT session and then do another 4 to 6 afterward on my own. In addition, there were other times I would run an additional 6 to 10 miles in the evening. Of course, you don’t need to be running that much to improve your 2 mile run time. That being said, you need to be putting in the necessary work if you want to drop significant time off of your current best.

Closing Thoughts

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new video content there each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. I hope that this post has been helpful and that you start implementing these strategies into your routine. Are you feeling constantly fatigued? If so, visit your base hospital and request to have a blood test done. Find out what your current iron/ferritin levels are.

Normal levels are between 38 to 300 ng/ml. I was diagnosed with very low ferritin (borderline anemia) back in 2007 with a score of 21 ng/ml. I started running faster and hitting new personal bests when I got my levels back between 50 to 86 ng/ml. My recommendation is to take 1, 65mg tablet of iron once or twice per week with some orange juice. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron faster. Most importantly, always consult a Physician before ever starting an exercise routine.

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