ACFT 2 Mile Run Standards | 2:19 Marathoner Tips

Are you seeking how to surpass the acft 2 mile run standards? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I served just over 20 years on active duty in the US Army. So, do understand the complexities of trying to run all out over 2 miles. I also hold personal bests of 4:22 for the mile, 9:27 for 2 miles and have run 2:19:35 for the marathon. No, it isn’t happen overnight and I had my fair share of failures along the way.

My goal with this post is to share with you some tactics and strategies for Soldiers, military members throughout the world and civilians alike. The overall aim here is to improve your body’s lactate tolerance. So, you want to become more efficient while running at sub-maximal to maximal efforts. You must be patient. It takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to the stresses you are placing on it.

My recommendation is invest in yourself. I have training plans here for runners aiming at the mile up to the 50k race distance. I created running courses, training plans and offer online coaching here. My philosophy is built around the teachings of 4 world-class coaches. 3 of which were personal mentors of mine.

Jack Hazen (my collegiate coach), Dr. Joe Vigil (mentor and one of the world’s most renowned exercise physiologists and Lisa Rainsberger (1985 Boston Marathon champion). Lisa coached me while I was assigned to the US Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP).

What is the ACFT 2-Mile Run Time?

The purpose of the acft 2MR is to test your cardiovascular fitness. In addition, to determine how fast you can cover 8 laps around the track and minimize slowing down. Remember, easy running is important but will not help you to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. Speed training will though. So, it is essential to focus on developing your overall leg speed.

acft 2 mile run standards

We will discuss this further in this post. Above are the acft 2 mile run standards you need to be thinking about in order to score anywhere from 60 to 100 points. Of course, to max out your points you will need to run in the low 13’s for the 2 mile distance.

One of the common mistakes I see Soldiers making is running too few miles per week. In addition, running too slow for those particular miles or kilometers. Remember, the key is pace sustainment. In addition, slowing down less than the Soldiers in front or behind you during your acft 2 mile run.

What are the Minimum Standards for the ACFT?

Soldiers that fall under heavily demanding MOS or AOCs need to score a minimum of 70 points. Furthermore, Soldiers in “significant” units or career fields need to score 65 points. Lastly, Soldiers that fall under “moderate” demanding jobs or military units need to score a minimum of 60 points on the 2MR portion of the ACFT physical fitness test.

I saw far too many Soldiers struggling even running a couple miles on the roads during morning PT sessions over the years. It certainly was not that they didn’t have the willpower. That being said, they simply were not fully committed to running. Yes, running easy is still important but running fast is an art form. So, the only way to run more efficiently is to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the body as you run.

Running easy will build endurance but will not improve your lactate tolerance. I recommend spending 16 to 20 weeks devoted to running below the acft 2 mile run standards. The first 3 to 4 weeks of your build up needs to be focused on easy aerobic mileage.

How Do I Train for ACFT Run?

Focus on Base Mileage First

As mentioned above, the first 3 to 4 weeks should be devoted to running easy mileage. How many days a week are you running? Once? Twice? Are you interested in running a fast 2 mile or fully committed?

If you are the latter you need to eventually move to 4 to 7 days a week. Of course, if you are just getting back into shape then one or two times a week is fine. That being said, you don’t want to stay there.

Again, the average Soldier may be in good shape but are not running enough. In addition, are not running a high enough of a percentage of their weekly volume at high enough anaerobic efforts.

Thus, they can hold their goal 2 mile race pace for 2 to 3 laps but have problems in the latter stages of the event. Remember, there are multiple other events we have to do before the 2 mile run even begins. So, it is essential you build a strong foundation of mileage first.

In addition, you train and prepare long enough to surpass these acft 2 mile run standards. As mentioned above, you need to run more mileage. Running once or twice per week during morning PT sessions is not enough. Also, Soldiers are not going to improve drastically by forcing them to jump into anaerobic workouts without a base built first.

Run Longer Distances

A common mistake I see far too many Soldiers making is not running long enough. In addition, their leadership also throws them into doing sprints when they are not even aerobically fit yet. My recommendation is develop better planning if you are a platoon leader or sergeant.

Again, focus on a 16 to 20 week build up leading into the acft 2MR. First, focus on spending 3 to 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage.

3 hour marathon pace
MAJ(ret.)Pennington finishing as the top American, in 4th place under the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials “A” standard time at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35
(5:19 per mile for 26.2 mile or 13 back-to-back 2 miles in 10:38 each)

The reason for this is to strengthen the tendons, ligaments and muscles of the body. Then and only then start working on intervals, morning sprint drills and running faster. I do recommend doing strides twice per week during your base phase.

Strides are short, acceleration drills that last anywhere from 50 to 100 meters in length. In addition, they are too short to build any significant lactic acid. So, you can do these on top of your other training during the week.

What is the farthest you have run in training? 3 miles? 4? Imagine how much easier the acft 2 mile run portion of the physical fitness test will be if you got that long run out toward 8 to 13 miles in length? How many Soldiers in your platoon are actually putting in that kind of work? Let’s face it. The reality is few.

How Can I Improve My ACFT Run Time?

Spend a Longer Period of Time Training at Your Anaerobic Threshold

You will be running between 85 to 88% of your maximum heart rate training at this intensity. Tempo runs are a key tactic to get that army 2 miler to feel more in control.

Again, the end goal is to run more economically (efficiently) and slow down less than the Soldiers doing the test with you. The only way to do this is to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

I would recommend starting off doing 2 to 3 mile tempo runs and working your way to 4 to 5 miles in length. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in the blood stream. Of course, the faster you run the more oxygen is required.

So, it is very easy to run easy for a number of minutes or miles. It is something else to run for several minutes to miles running at tempo effort. Remember, be patient. The body always adapts but it won’t adapt immediately.

Focus on Training at Vo2 Max Effort

Vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. We can only run a few seconds to minutes at this intensity. You are running around 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate running at this intensity.

One of the best ways to be less intimidated by the acft 2 mile run standards is speed development. The main reason is you will be running at considerably faster intensity at this effort versus your 2 mile run effort.

In addition, speed workouts will help you recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these that you can recruit the more economically you are going to run. Also, the less you will slow down. One of the biggest benefits is it will make 2 mile race pace to feel that much easier for you.

Examples of vo2 max workouts are listed below. You may find similar types of workouts in the 2 mile training plans that I have here at

  • 1 mile warm-up, 10x200m@1 mile goal race pace, 5 min rest, 3x400m@800m race pace, 1 mile cool-down
  • 1 mile warm-up, 10-20×1 minute hard@170BPM followed by 1 minute easy@130-150BPM, 1 mile coold-down
  • warm-up (1 mile), 16x400m@10seconds slower than goal 2 mile race pace (4 miles total) with 1 to 2 minutes rest between reps, 1 mile cool-down

How Do I Train to Run 2 miles?

Do not rush your fitness and maintain your enthusiasm. Yes, it is going to take sometime to get into great anaerobic shape. Focus first on the 3 to 4-week base building phase. As mentioned above, you can do strides twice per week during your easy runs. 4 to 6, 100 meter strides is fine but no more than that. Again, focus only on running easy, building your endurance.

I wouldn’t add much more than 10 percent more mileage per week. Focus on also running more and be more consistent than you have been in the past. Do you want to average or great at this? Greatness will require far more out of you.

Soldiers need to be doing 1, vo2 max workout, 1 tempo run and 1 long run per week. Again, this is if you want to surpass the acft 2 mile run standards. Also, if you want to train longer than just 2 miles. Perhaps you have a goal of running a faster 5K or participating in your first marathon?

Well, you need to start thinking outside the box. Soldiers are disciplined. That being said, when it comes to running, they are not doing enough. Again, I am just going off of what I saw from being on active duty for over 20 years.

Yes, we run during morning PT sessions but often times far too slow. In addition, sometimes far too fast for athletes who have not focused on base building. Remember, you have to plan better in order to get better results.

Hills Reps

Harder, anaerobic workouts like hills reps or doing any form of Vo2 max workout should not start until the Soldier is in solid aerobic shape first. That being said, I used hill reps heavily while training for the 2 mile up to the marathon distance.

You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my military and and civilian racing career. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel too. I create new videos there each week to help runners of ability levels get to the next level.

Examples of hill workouts I would recommend to 2 milers up to the marathon distance specialists are as follows

  • 2 mile warm-up, 10x200m hills reps (all out up, walk or jog down), 2 mile jog cool-down
  • 1 mile warm-up, 4-5 mile run over hilly terrain running moderate to all out up hill, nice and relaxed on downhill and flatter sections, 1 mile cool-down
  • 2 mile warm-up, 20x100m hill reps (all out up, jog easy down), 1 mile cool-down

Wear Lighter Shoes

One of the biggest mistakes I saw Soldiers continually making was wearing training shoes during their 2 mile PT tests. I would advise getting some racing flats on your feet. My top two racing flat recommendations are the Nike Next% or the On Running Cloudechoboom flats.

These shoes are not only lighter but contain carbon fiber plates. Thus, they will help convert kinetic energy into forward propulsion with each stride that you take. Yes, you will be at a huge advantage compared to the Soldiers to your right or left you choose to wear trainers instead.

You can save at a minimum of 10 to 15 seconds per mile off your time by wearing these. Of course, unless the Soldier is in great aerobic or anaerobic shape it doesn’t matter what shoe is on your feet. That being said, be smart and start wearing racing flats rather than training shoes during your ACFT test.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that these running tips will help you surpass the acft 2 mile run standards. You don’t need to be intimidated by these times. Remember, work on your endurance and start running more per week. Also, stay consistent about this. Your work output will determine how successful you are going to be over those 8 laps of the track.

Work on staying as relaxed as you can during easy and hard efforts as well. The best sprinters, middle to long distance runners always focus on minimizing muscular tension. Remember, the less energy waste equates to faster athletic performances.

Lastly, make sure you hydrating well throughout the week and getting proper sleep. You also want to spend some time (10 minutes minimum) mentally rehearsing. So, see yourself getting across the finish line with your army 2 mile goal time on the clock.

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