ACFT Training Plan | Tips to Run a Faster 2 Mile

Are you seeking a legitimate ACFT training plan? If so, glad you have made it here to RunDreamAchieve. I served over 20 years on active duty in the Army. So, experienced the ACFT the last year of my military service prior to retiring in March of 2022. In addition, spent the previous 19 years participating in the older APFT version. I definitely know what it feels like to be working a full-time job in the military and trying to run faster times.

My hope is that this post on how to utilize a new ACFT workout plan will be of assistance to you. I recently created the Army ACFT Embrace the Suck 2 mile running course. It basically covers from A to Z what you need to do in order to be as effective as possible over the 8 lap event. I have run 9:27 for the 2 mile, 14:18 for 5K and 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, fully understand the challenge of trying to run fast over distances from the mile to the marathon. My goal in creating the course was to help military as well as civilians use leverage and run faster over their chosen distance.

Of course, we know the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard run 1.5 miles on their physical fitness test. In addition, the Marine PFT cover 3 miles. So, the strategies I cover in this course can help service members regardless of branch affiliation. In fact, the tactics can be used all the way to the marathon distance.

ACFT Workout Plan

The new course consists of 9 modules and 58 video lessons. I didn’t want to create a generic ACFT training plan. My goal was to overdeliver. I didn’t see any courses online specifically to help service members run faster on their Army Combat Fitness Test. In addition, didn’t see any for the other branches as well. So, worked to create a running-related resource to help you score higher on your respective military physical fitness test.

Air Force PT test 2022
MAJ (ret.) Pennington finishing in 4th overall and top American at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (5:19 per mile for 26.2 miles)

The first mistake I saw Soldiers making over my years of service is not building sufficient base of mileage first. I saw many of them, at no fault of their own, being forced to do sprints and faster ability group runs. Of course, service members don’t always have a choice of what PT they want to do in the morning. You are not going to run a faster 1.5 mile, 2 mile or 3 mile time by running once or twice per week. So, the athlete has to stress the energy systems of the body more often. In addition, must jog on recovery days to ensure adaptation occurs.

How Can I Make My ACFT Faster?

Remember, you have 5 events before you run the 2 mile. So, it is critical you work on your leg speed. I am a big believer in hill repetitions, longer tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs. That being said, you can train hard every day and run the risk of injuries. The athlete has to have a legitimate ACFT training plan that focuses on stressing the energy systems of the body adequately. I didn’t miss anything in this course. In fact, I am certain that if you follow the fundamentals in it you are going to see some significant changes.

Yes, you may have to do the PT your military leaders have you do in the morning. That being said, you can still run a few more miles after their workout is done. There are also other times of the day you have control over. For example, during lunch and most certainly after work. I did this regularly over the years. Are you lacking talent? Well, you can make up for that with your work ethic. Talent that doesn’t work will get beat by the athlete that has tenacity and is persistent.

The first thing you have to focus on is building a strong build up of easy, aerobic mileage. I would also recommend doing 5 to 6, 50-100 meter strides twice per week during your base-building phase. The course ends with a 16-week ACFT training plan built specifically for your goal run time. Again, I want you working smarter rather than harder. We already know there are plenty of hard working athletes out there who still don’t meet their run time goals. So, you have to think outside the box.

How Do I Lower My 2 Mile Run Time?

Focus on not only running more but at a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate. For example, lengthening the duration of your tempo runs is key. The longer you train at your anaerobic threshold the easier your goal 1.5 mile (Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force), 2 mile (Army) and 3 mile (Marines) race pace is going to feel.

The problem for many service members is they simply haven’t spent enough time training at significantly faster paces. Easy running will build your endurance. That being said, to hold goal race pace longer you have to improve your lactate tolerance.

Also, they simply are not staying as consistent as they have the potential to be. The real strength is going to come from consistent training weeks running 4 to 6 days a week. It was rare that I would run less than 5 days a week and most of my career I was running 7 days a week. Of course, your goal may not be to qualify for the Olympic Trials or the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) which was mine.

Hill Repetitions

Hills repetitions are examples of vo2 max workouts. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. It is running at such fast paces you can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. Remember, you will have 5 events to complete prior to the 2 mile. So, you want to train at very high lactic levels in order to produce positive physiological adaptations. You will lower your 2 mile time by training more often at faster speeds.

average half marathon time
MAJ (ret.) Pennington finishing in a new personal for the half marathon at the Philly Half Marathon in 1:07:06 (5:07 mile pace for 13.1 miles)

Again, you also have to pay attention to your recovery. The benefits of the hard training you are putting in today will be seen several weeks and months from now. Fitness cannot be rushed. Unfortunately, many service members fall into this trap. We all are so competitive in the military. Have you ever seen Soldiers falling out of ability group or command team runs? I have. Why is that? Well, not enough running is one of many factors for why this occurs.

It certainly isn’t for a lack of motivation and talent on their part. We have three choices in this life. We can be average, good or great. Average doesn’t take much work. Running once or twice per week will produce average results. The ACFT training plan contained within this course is going to take you out of your comfort zone.

Think Outside the Box

My style of preparing the athletes that I coach is not the norm. I still see far too many runners running too slow on easy days and too fast on hard days. One great way to ensure that you don’t overtrain is to invest in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it. It helps me to focus on staying in the correct heart rate zones rather than just guessing what pace I need to be running at.

As mentioned above, gradually extending the length of time you spend at your anaerobic threshold is key. The way you run faster for longer periods of time is strengthening your lactate tolerance. Faster running will produce this for you. The bad news is that it is painful and takes time. You cannot rush your fitness.

Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load you are placing on it. So, be patient with your build up. The Army ACFT 2 mile course was specifically built to address the steps necessary to succeed in this sport.

Closing Thoughts

Would you like to keep in touch? If so, definitely subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on creating 2 to 3 new videos there each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. You can be military or civilian, all that matters to me is that I get you to produce better results. I get a lot of satisfaction seeing the athletes I mentor succeed and run faster than they thought possible.

Remember, the world’s top middle to long distance runners are running around 40 percent of their weekly mileage at higher intensities. Yes, you still need to run easy on the days it is called upon. That being said, to run faster on your physical fitness tests you need to be training at, near and far below your goal run time pace.

Easy running will not produce this physiological adaptation. Fast running will. The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more economical (efficient) you are going to run on your ACFT, Navy PFT, Air Force or Marine PT test or Coast Guard PFA test. I hope this brief overview has been of assistance. Are you ready to take your training and racing to the next level? Click the link below.

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