ACFT Workout Plan | Pro Tips to Run a Faster 2MR

Are you seeking a new ACFT workout plan to run a faster 2 mile? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. One of the most difficult events of the new Army Combat Fitness Test for most Soldiers is the 2 mile run. I served for over 20 years on active duty recently retiring from the Army in March of 2022. So, I do understand how working a full-time job in the military and preparing for the Army ACFT. The test is no longer the more simple, APFT that was comprised of just push ups, sit ups and the 2 mile run.

I recently created a new running course called the Army ACFT Embrace the Suck 2 mile course. I have run 9:27 for 2 miles, 14:18 for 5K and 2:19:35 for the marathon. Of course, these times didn’t occur overnight. It took me from 1992 to 2007 to break the 2:20 marathon barrier. You need to hold 5:20 per mile for 26.2 miles to run under 2 hours and 20 minutes for the marathon.

My aim with this new course is to teach military as well as civilians the exact strategies I was taught to run the times that I did. Yes, we all have different physical capabilities. That being said, the strategies I cover are universal and can help beginners to elite-level runners. My top recommendation is to focus on building your aerobic base mileage first. You don’t want to rush your fitness. I saw far too many Soldiers falling out on ability group runs. In addition, many others who told me they have never been “much of a runner”. My question to them is “how often are you running”?

Events of the the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)

Below are the 6 events of the Army ACFT exam.

  • Event 1: Three Repetition Maximum Deadlift (MDL)
  • Event 2: Standing Power Throw (SPT)
  • 3: Hand-Release Push-Up (HRP)
  • Event 4: Sprint-Drag-Carry (SDC)
  • Event 5: Leg Tuck (LTK)
  • 6: Two-Mile Run (2MR)
  • Cool Down

The majority of the first 5 events are highly anaerobic, explosive activities. So, you do want to train at paces that are much faster than goal 2 mile race pace in training. Hill repetitions, strength training (no more than once per week), longer tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs. I would also recommend adding in strides to your training routine twice per week. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter accelerations that will help you improve your form and leg turnover.

how many k is a half marathon
MAJ(ret.) Pennington finishing the 2007 Philadelphia Half Marathon in a new personal best of 1:07:06 (5:07 mile pace for 13.1 miles)

Strides are also too short to build up any significant lactic acid. So, you can do these on top of your other workouts throughout your training week. A major mistake I saw Soldiers making is simply not running enough. You can’t run a faster 2 mile by running once or twice per week for a few minutes. Sure, you can build some endurance. That being being said, there is a difference between running 2 miles and racing 2 miles.

How Do I Get in Shape for ACFT?

Be patient with yourself and focus on a 4-month or 16-week build up. Remember, the longer your build up, the better. As mentioned above, focus on running 4 weeks easy and relaxed. In addition, adding in those strides twice per week. You will have spent several miles or kilometers at near sprint speeds during a 4-month build up. You don’t want to start doing sprints, tempo runs and hills before first running easy. The reason for this is to strengthen your tendons, ligaments and muscles. In addition, to lower your risk of injury.

Yes, you may not have control of the type of PT you want to do early in the morning. The majority of Soldiers don’t have that luxury as the Platoon Leaders and Sergeants determine that for you. That being said, you do have control of what you do during your lunch time and after work. I ran fast times because I was all in. I would make time and sacrifice my lunch time to run a few extra miles. In addition, would run more miles in the morning during PT.

So, you are ultimately in control of how fit you get for the 2 mile run portion of your ACFT. I could not find a specific running course online for military members so created one. In fact, I am certain that any military (or civilians) that follow the tactics I teach in the course will produce a new personal best for their run events.

How Do I Train for ACFT 2 Miles?

Your ACFT workout plan needs to be long enough and aggressive enough to get legitimate results. Again, easy running once or twice a week is not enough. Yes, Soldiers do run but I don’t think enough nor at at the proper intensities. The Soldiers that I saw that could maintain pace were running sufficient mileage. Have you had problems sustaining race pace in the past during your military physical fitness test? What percentage of your weekly volume are you training at or below your goal 2 mile pace?

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

How much mileage you are honestly putting in? 6 miles a week? 10? The best runners are running a minimum of 4 days and most are running between 6 to 7 days a week. It was rare that I would ever run 5 days a week and yet so many wondered why I could run the times that I did. I cover every strategy, tactic and cover and the exact workouts I was doing to run 9:27 for 2-mile, 4:22 for the full mile (1609 meters) and 2:19:35 for the marathon.

Run Longer Tempo Runs

A legitimate ACFT workout plan should focus on gradually extending the amount of time spent at your anaerobic threshold. Again, the end goal is to improve the athlete’s lactate tolerance. You want to be able to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. The only way to do this is by running at faster paces. Your anaerobic threshold is running at or around 85 to 89 percent of your maximum heart rate. Yes, a 2 to 3 mile tempo run early on in your ACFT workout plan will be difficult at first.

Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, be patient with your build up. It will take time to work to get your tempo run out toward 4 to 5 miles in length. Imagine how much stronger you are going to be if you lengthen your tempo runs out to this distance. Again, you have to focus on building your easy foundational mileage first. In addition, adding in those strides into your routine.

Faster Long Runs

One of the most challenging aspects of the ACFT workout plan contained within this course is a new strategy of doing your long runs. Easy, relaxed long runs will build endurance and burn fat. You will definitely gain fitness and efforts at aerobic paces can certainly help you run a better 2 mile. In fact, if you were simply to start running 4 to 6 days a week and did it consistently you would drop significant time.

How did I lower my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35? Faster long runs and there was a specific way I did it. I go in-depth of how I did it in the ACFT 2 mile course. The strategy that I used also helped me lower my 5K personal best from 15:19 to 14:18. You also need to be doing 1, vo2 max workouts per week. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. It is running between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. It is running so fast you can’t clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

What is the main benefit of doing workouts like faster long runs, hills and speed workouts? It helps to make your 2 mile goal race pace to feel easier and more sustainable. You will be better able to handle higher amounts of lactic acid build up. Again, running easy once or twice per week (which is the norm for most military PT weeks) is not enough. Yes, Soldiers run each week but not enough. The remainder of the week we are lifting weights in the gym, doing ruck marches, tire flips, rope climbs and other activities. So, if you want to train properly and drop significant time off of your 2 mile, consider investing in this course.

Closing Thoughts

Do you want to keep in touch? If so, make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making new videos there each week to help military and civilians set new personal bests. Remember, the faster you get over 1.5 miles, 2 miles or 3 miles the better equipped you are going to be racing longer distances.

We have a lot of great races in our military. The Army Ten Miler and Marine Corps Marathon are two examples of this. My goal with this course is to get more military members running faster and become even more competitive on the roads and track. You may even have a goal of getting accepted to the All-Army running team or the Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) I was a part of. If that is your goal, I highly recommend you take a look at what this course has to offer.

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