Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Army Races | Pro Tactics to Race Faster

Are you seeking more information on how to run faster at your upcoming army races? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am happy you have arrived here. I am a recently retired (1 March 2022) Army officer. Also, served with the US Army World Class Athlete Program and several combat support and line units prior to after that assignment. So, understand the time demands of working a full-time job and trying to compete at the highest of levels at army races.

My goal with this post is to share with you some running tips that will help to take your training and racing to the next level. I didn't see an online resource for military members trying to run faster on their Army ACFT 2 mile. So, created the new Army combat fitness 2 mile running course. It is comprised of 9 modules and 58 video lessons. I discuss the top strategies and tactics I was taught by 3 of the world's top distance running coaches. The course also concludes with a custom-built, 16-week training plan for your specific 2 time goal.

I also designed this course to help military members in other branches of the armed forces. So, whether you are training for the 1600m (Indian Army), 2km (UK Army), 1.5 mile (US Air Force, Navy & Coast Guard) or 3 miles (US Marines), this is a resource you may want to check out. I have run 9:27 for 2 miles, 14:18 for 5K and 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, do understand what it takes to help other runners run fast over various distances.

Where is the Army 10 Miler?

The Army 10 miler is one of many army races held each year. It is held in October and is held in Washington DC. It is also the second largest 10 mile road race in the united States of America. The largest is the Broadstreet 10 miler held in Philadelphia each year. The Army 10 miler course is mainly flat but does have some minor up and downs on it. I would highly recommend focusing on a longer build up then a shorter one.

Remember, it takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, it is very difficult to get into racing shape in a matter of a few weeks. So, focus on at least 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage. You also also start incorporating strides into your training routine as well. Strides are short, 50 to 100-meter long accelerations. Strides will help to improve your form and overall leg turnover. In addition, are perfect for getting your heart rate up prior to starting faster workouts.

A common mistake I saw many military members making in the Army was starting their 2 mile with no strides. Small changes and changing up your tactics can go along way in helping you to improve. I teach you how to bypass the massive mistakes runners make. So, start doing 3 to 4, 100-meter strides before you start your Army ACFT 2 mile to get your heart rate up. Don't just start the run with no warm-up.

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Does the Army Have a Marathon?

The US Army does not hold a marathon currently. That being said, there is a for-profit organization that holds an event called the Army marathon each year. It was held for a number of years starting in 2013 but more or less fizzled out. The US Army's main race is the Army 10 miler. Of course, there are other races around the world which could be considered Army races. For example, the Army run held in Ottawa, Canada is a very popular event.

Army Races
MAJ (ret.) Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (5:19 per mile for 26.2 miles)

So, regardless what race you are aiming for, continue to work on your speed development. I cover every tactic I used to compete at the elite level in the new Army combat fitness 2 mile running course. Remember, the faster you can run at the shorter races the better prepared you will be to compete longer races. The overall goal here is to improve your body's lactate tolerance. Easy running is important but will not produce this physiological adaptation. Faster running will.

What's the Fastest 10 Mile Run?

The world record for men was set by Ethiopia's Haile Gebressalassie who ran a time of 44:24 in Tillburg, Netherlands. The world record for women was set by Kenya's Brigid Kosgei who ran a time of 49:21 in 2019. Remember, these are the fastest times in history. So, don't compare yourself with these athletes. It is just to give you an idea of what the human body is capable of. Why are these runners so good aside from great genetics? They spend a higher percentage of their weekly mileage running at higher intensities.

army race
MAJ (ret.) Pennington (second from left) with the 2010 Army 10 Miler International Championship Team in Washington DC

In fact, the world's top runners are running between 35 to 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. Pace sustainment is one of the biggest hurdles for Soldiers and military members in other branches. In addition, civilians. The only way to make your goal race pace to feel easier is to train at much higher intensities. The first step is to build your foundational mileage as mentioned above. Once you have don that then we move into race specific training.

The training plans and running courses I have created here have this philosophy built in. So, running longer at your anaerobic threshold is essential. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our max heart rate at our AT effort. Your anaerobic threshold (AT) is the point where lactic acid begins to rise. The faster you train, the more fast twitch muscle fibers you will recruit. The more of these you can recruit the more efficient you are going to race.

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How To Run Faster at the Army 10 Miler

Start running faster long runs. Do you do regular long runs every single weekend? If not, now is the time to start to get into the habit of doing so. Remember, don't run long and slow each weekend. You should run faster, varied paced long runs once weekend followed the next by an easy, relaxed long run. The reason is to ensure that you adapt to these harder workouts. The long run was the hardest workout that did prior to breaking the 2:20:00 marathon barrier.

I was very fit when I ran 2:19:35 hitting the 10 mile mark in 51:27 and half-marathon point in 1:07:09. How did I do it? Longer, sustained and more aggressive long runs. I was also jogging on recovery days to ensure that I adapted to the hard workouts I was doing. You need to do the same otherwise you are shooting yourself in the foot. Below are 2 examples of what faster, varied paced long runs look like.

  • 2 mile jog, 4 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 7 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 mile jog cool-down (18 miles)
  • 1 mile jog, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:15 mile pace, 6 miles@6:20 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 1 mile jog cool-down (25 miles)

The next week's long run might have been around 16 to 22 miles at 9:00 mile pace.

Invest in a Heart Rate Monitor

A common mistake runners make is running too fast on easy days. In addition, too slow on harder days. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 regularly. It helps me to stay in the correct heart rate zones to ensure I am not over training. Again, the benefits of your hard training come from within the rest period between your hard workouts.

So, you have to have the discipline to slow down on those recovery days. There is only so many times you can push the energy systems of the body before diminished returns occur. I trained with marathoners who could run 5:00 mile pace for the marathon who would jog 9 minute pace on easy days. So, if they can do that then so can you and I. You will make massive gains in your fitness if you train smarter. Higher mileage and hard work doesn't always equate to better results

Can Anyone Run the Army Ten-Miler?

Yes, civilians as well as military members from all branches of the military can compete. In addition, international military teams also compete. I was a part of the 2010 Army 10 miler championship team that won the International Team title. I finished as the team's 4th man with a time of 51:59 to give you an idea how competitive it was. My top finish at the Army 10 miler was 12th in 2004 where I ran 51:53. My personal best for 10 miles stands at 50:54.

How much time do you spend training mentally for your Army races? I ask because the vast majority of runner only focus on physical training. The world's top middle to long distance runners combine them both to produce world-class results. I credit mental rehearsal to helping me lower my personal bests from the mile (4:22.1) to the marathon (2:19:35). So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes daily visualizing yourself passing people and running relaxed. Also, getting across the finish line with your goal time on the clock.

Closing Thoughts

Would you like to keep in touch? Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I aim to make at least 2 new videos there weekly to help runners such as yourself succeed. I know preparing for Army races and other competitions takes an immense amount of time. So, anything worth doing right is worth doing right the first time, if at all possible.

My aim in creating the resources available here at RunDreamAchieve is to help speed up your learning. I want you setting new personal bests by training smarter. I already know you know how to work hard. In addition, know you are seeking excellence otherwise you would not have read this far.

I am looking forward to hearing about your new personal bests. Lastly, hope that the running courses and training plans located here will help you improve dramatically. I hope this post on how to prepare properly for your Army races has been helpful. Keep me updated on your progress.

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