Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Army 10 Miler | Tips from a 2:19 Marathoner

Are you seeking to run the Army 10 miler? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I hope that this post will be of assistance to you. I was fortunate to have competed at this race numerous times during my 20 years of active duty service in the Army. My best finish was 12th overall in 51:53 in 2004. In addition, I was a member of the International championship team in 2010 running a time of 51:58. I finished as the 4th man on the team with that time too. Our top man was two-time Olympian, LTC Dan Browne, who ran a time of 48:20.

My personal best for 10 miles is 50:54 that I ran en route to my 1:07:06 half-marathon PR. So, I do understand the complexities of this event. Also, what it takes to sustain race pace longer. No, it isn't an easy process. Easy running just about anyone can do. That being said, running fast is an art form that takes practice and tenacity. You have to improve the body's lactate tolerance in order to do this. In addition, teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

The only way to do this is to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these we can recruit the more efficient we will race. Speed training and training for longer periods of time at your anaerobic threshold is also how you do it. Yes, easy running is still necessary to be a successful runner. The tactics I share in my courses such as the Army ACFT Embrace the Suck 2 mile course helped me to get accepted into the US Army World Class Athlete Program. Also, to drop my personal bests from 2 miles to the marathon.

Army 10 Miler Training Plan

You definitely have to think outside the box if you are going after a faster 10 mile time. I do have 10 mile training plans that I have created for beginner to elite level runners here. So, there are numerous resources here to help you make it to the next level. Following an Army 10 miler training plan will take the guesswork out of your preparation. The Army 10 miler is a highly competitive road race held each year in Washington D.C.

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

The course is mainly flat and the temperatures of the race are usually pleasant but can be hot too. The Army ten miler is also the nation's largest 10 mile road race. The Cherry Blossom 10 miler is probably the most competitive 10 mile road race in the country. My top recommendation for anyone training for a 10 miler is focus first on building your base mileage. You should spend a minimum of 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage. In addition, adding in strides twice per week during this time. I would continue to do 5-6, 100m strides twice per week throughout your training build up.

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How Long Do You Need to Train for a 10-Miler?

I would focus on a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 weeks to get the 10 mile distance right. Again, you don't want to rush your fitness. It takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress being placed on it. So, the benefits of the hard training you do today will be seen several weeks and months from now. Great fitness doesn't arrive overnight. You have to continue to train at, near and far below your goal 10 mile race pace to achieve your goals.

Remember, the longer your build up, the better. The reason is you will not be in a rush. Also, you will provide adequate time for your body to fully adapt to the hard training you are putting it through. Are you training for the 10 mile distance to better prepare yourself for the half marathon or marathon? If so, I have also created running courses for athletes aiming at these distances as well.

4 to 5 months is plenty of time to prepare properly for the 10 mile distance. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past preparing for your 10 mile races? 4 miles? 6? I would work to extend the duration of your tempo runs toward 7 to 9 miles for this event. Of course, you need to first adapt to handle a 2 to 3 mile tempo run before moving further out. So, be patient with your training build up. Again, the resources located here at RunDreamAchieve can assist you with this process.

What Should I Do the Week Before a 10 Mile Race?

I would focus on carbo loading 7 days out from your 10 mile race. Remember, it isn't what you eat the night before that matters most. It is what you eat the week before that matters. I would also do a 3 mile run at goal 10 mile race pace 4 days out from the Army 10 miler. I would use this as a last reminder to your legs of what you have trained them to do.

army 10 miler
MAJ (ret.) Pennington (second from left) and the 2010 Army 10 Miler International Championship Team

Furthermore, I am a believer in doing a 10-day taper rather than a 3-week taper. I set personal bests from the 2 mile (9:27) to the marathon (2:19:35) using a 10-day taper. 10 days is plenty of time for your body to fully rest and recovery from the 16 to 20 week training block you put it through. Remember, you don't want to start dropping intensity and volume too far out from the Army ten miler.

The goal is to go into that race fully recovered, feeling fresh and motivated. I see far too many runners dropping intensity and volume too far out from their goal race. The result is that it leaves them feeling tired when it should be leaving them feeling fully rested. Of course, some runners do get descent results from a 3-week taper. My best recommendation is to consider changing your taper tactic. I think you will get considerably better results if you do.

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Can Anyone Run the Army 10-Miler?

Yes, the Army 10-miler is open to the general public as well as other branches of the military. The first mile of the race is most downhill. So, you have to watch how fast you go out as everyone will run too fast in that first mile. My top recommendation is to aim for a negative split. Focus on running the last 5 miles faster than you run the first 5 miles. I wouldn't aim at really starting your attack until you hit the 5 mile (just over 8km) mark.

You should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. Your vo2 max is your body's maximum oxygen uptake. It is running at speeds to fast that you can't clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. The key reason for doing this is to get that goal 10 mile race pace you are aiming at to feel easier. Again, pace sustainment is what we are aiming for. So, higher mileage isn't a guarantee you will run faster at the Army 10 miler. The world's top middle to long distance runners are running between 35 to 40% of their weekly volume at faster paces.

Athletes can get legitimate 10 mile results off of 50 to 70 miles a week. Remember, more time spent at or below your goal 10 mile pace will produce better results. Also, make sure you are jogging on recovery days. I used heart rate monitor training to ensure I succeed at the Army 10 miler. I use the Garmin 245 and it helps me stay in the correct heart rate zones.

Closing Thoughts

Would you like to keep in touch leading into your Army 10 miler? Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. My main goal is to create at a minimum of 2 new training or racing videos there each week. I want to help more military members as well as civilians to surpass their fitness and racing goals. Remember, start implementing mental training into your routine leading into this race as well.

Mental training is commonly overlooked. That being said, the world's top runners combine both mental as well as physical training to succeed. So, start spending 10 minutes daily visualizing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal 10 mile time on the clock. The best time to do this is when you first get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night. I credit mental training for having broken the 2:20 marathon barrier. It is one major way to help you over the long-term to succeed at this sport.

Keep me posted on your progress. I hope that the resources available here will help you run faster from the 2 mile to the marathon distance. I look forward to hearing about your new personal bests.

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