Are you seeking some new strategies to improve your 3 mile run time? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am excited you have made it here. Also, know that there are many resources here that can help take your running to the next level. The 3 mile run definitely requires athletes to handle lactic acid more effectively. I just recently made a video of how to improve running economy where I touch on this topic. I have attached it below.
Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel as well. I create new video content there each week to help runners of all ability levels achieve their goals. Overall, the goal to run faster over 3 miles is to improve your body’s lactate tolerance. Are you in the military? If so, I am a retired Army officer and understand the struggle you face. You are more than welcome to visit the about page to learn more about my background, if interested.
How Long Should a 3-Mile Run Take?
It may take 36 minutes for some athletes and well under 15 minutes for others. So, it just depends on the level of fitness of the athlete. I would recommend first focusing on at least 4 weeks of easy base mileage before you start working on a 3 mile or 5k build up.
I have created training plans here at RunDreamAchieve specifically for 5k specialists as well you may want to look into. In addition, also advise my athletes in doing 4-5x100m strides during their easy runs, twice per week.
Strides are short accelerations that will help you to focus on your form and running relaxed at high speeds. The strategy here is that over time you will have spent many miles or kilometers at sprint paces. In addition, you will have done these strides on top of your weekly training regimen. Strides are too short to build up any significant lactic acid. So, you can definitely do these during the week without causing additional fatigue.
Tips to Improve Your 3 Miler
One major tip is to remain patient. Remember, it takes anywhere from 21 days to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, the benefits of the hard work you are doing today will be seen several days from now. Focus on not adding more than 10 percent of weekly mileage each week. Be gradual in your build up adding an additional 3 to 4 miles each week. Of course, this isn’t set in stone. Can you go from running 20 miles one week to 30 the next?
Yes, but be strategic about your training. The running courses, monthly coaching that I offer here and training plans will help to speed up your learning. Also, make sure you are paying attention to your pacing in your 3 miler.
For example, if your goal is to run under 30 minutes you don’t want to go out the first mile in 9:20. Again, the focus needs to be on where you are at, at the finish line and not at mile 1. Pacing is one of the biggest hurdles for runners to master and it takes time.
How far is your long run been in the past? Has it been 5 miles? You may want to consider lengthening that out to closer to 10 . Imagine how much stronger you will be if you run over triple the distance of the race distance you are preparing for.
Running long and easy is still important. That being said, you don’t want to run long and slow every single weekend. Remember, to improve your 3 mile run time you need to be able to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in your body.
Easy running will not produce this physiological effect. Fast running does. I was able to lower my 5K time down to 14:18 using faster long runs. In addition, lowered my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I was a member of the US Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) unit when I achieved this time. No, it didn’t happen overnight. It was non-stop, consistent work.
The same goes for you. Your will drop significant time in your 3 mile run time with your tenacity. Also, do not lose enthusiasm for what you are doing. Running fast is an art form. There is nothing special about running easy and anyone can do it for a number of minutes.
Faster Long Runs
Again, faster, varied pace long runs are the secret weapon to dropping time off of your 3 miler time. The reason being is you are running both aerobically and anaerobically during these efforts. I recommend to my athletes to alternate running easy one weekend followed the next by a more challenging long run. Below are some examples of varied pace, long runs I would recommend to someone focused on a sub 21 minute 3 mile run time.
- 1 mile warm-up, 2 miles@7:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 6:00, 1 mile in 7:50, 2 miles@7:10, 1 mile jog cool-down (10 miles)
- 2 mile warm-up, 2 miles@7:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 6:00, 3 miles easy (10 miles)
- 1 mile warm-up, 2 miles@7:15 pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@6:20 pace, 1 mile cool-down (8 miles)
Again, we don’t start doing these types of workouts until the athlete has first spend time building easy, aerobic base mileage. Remember, it takes time for the body to adapt. So, you can’t be in a rush about this. The long run is the hardest workout that I do. Yes, speed training is difficult as is hill repetitions and intervals. That being said, the long run takes more concentration and requires more focus.
Reminder, always spend the following week after these long runs running at easy, relaxed pace.
Longer Tempo Runs
What is your best mile time? Is it 8 minutes? Well, add 1 minute to 1 minute and 10 seconds to that and that is around the pace you need to be running your tempo runs at. Tempo effort is running at your body’s anaerobic threshold. It is running around 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate. The longer you can spend training at this effort, the better.
Athletes trying to improve their 3 mile run time are not lacking initiative. I know the US Marines and Royal Marines focus on the 3-mile run. So, these athletes are some of the most disciplined in the world. What I see that needs tweaked is how they are training. A common mistake I see a lot of us military members making is running their PT tests in training shoes.
Wear Lighter Shoes
One of the best ways to improve your 3 miler run time is to get a pair of racing flats. There are many options out there. The top of the line shoes now have specific shoe technology with carbon plates in them. The new shoes out there today will help you to convert more kinetic energy into forward propulsion with each step that you take.
So, get away from wearing training shoes during your 2 mile or 3 mile run during your fitness tests. One, you will have less weight on your feet. Two, you will run faster times. The top recommendations I would suggest is the Nike Next% and the On Running Cloudboom Echo. I can promise you that few of your Soldiers or Marines know anything about these shoes. So, one way to get that extra edge is to make sure you have the right shoes on your feet when you go after your 3 mile run time.
Again, do not wear training shoes during your physical fitness “PT” tests. It is a common mistake far too many military members around the world are making. Get some light, legit and on point running shoes to ensure you are set up for success.
Focus on Your Speed
The only way to get your goal 3 miler race pace to feel easier is to train at speeds that far exceed what you plan to run. Again, the goal is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. The more economical (efficient) you run and the more relaxed you are the better your results are going to be. Unfortunately, running easy too often will not help you run efficiently at race pace.
Again, jogging on easy days is essential. Remember, the benefits from your hard training come within the rest period. You are 2 to 3 times weaker after a harder, anaerobic workout. Google “Supercompensation”. I recommend doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. Your vo2 max is your maximum oxygen uptake or running between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. There is nothing pleasant about running at these types of intensities. That being said, it will make your goal 3 mile run time pace feel that much easier.
Overall, that is the goal. How can we get you to sustain your goal 3 miler race pace longer than the military or civilians around in that race? Volume plus intensity coupled with equal focus on recovery will help get you there.
Are you looking for a running coach? If so, you may want to check out our monthly coaching option. I have also created running courses for runners aiming at the half-marathon and marathon distances as well. I know that preparing to run fast over the 3 mile distance is not fun. That being said, surpassing out fitness goals is.
The fact that you have read this far already tells me you have the hunger and drive to succeed. Remember, this is just a quick overview of some (not all) the variables you need to pay attention to. Faster 3 mile times come when you have adequately stressed the energy systems of the body.
I hope that this post on how to improve your 3 mile run time has been helpful to you. You can also reach me anytime at nathanpennington [at] protonmail [dot] com if you have any questions. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new personal best over the 3 mile distance. Also, that your confidence has grown and you are now aiming for a longer race distance. My hope is that the products I have created here will impact your fitness, confidence and running performances.