Are wondering how to take your average 2 mile time to the next level? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I hope that is post will be helpful whether you are in the military or are a civilian athlete. I know a lot of Soldiers are focusing on improving their ACFT 2MR time. The Army leadership, in it their infinite wisdom, decided to change up our Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). It is now called the Army Combat Fitness Test (AFCT).
That being said, the 2 mile run is the last section of the test. So, how well prepared you are will dictate how fast you are going to cover that distance. I spent over 20 years on active duty in the US Army. So, have some knowledge and expertise with this event and test. In addition, have been a runner for over 30 years. My personal best for the 2-mile is 9:27. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background.
How Long Does It Take to Run 2 Miles?
It all depends on how well you have practiced your goal race pace. The world record for 2 miles in 7:58 for men and 8:58 for women. The athletes that race those superior times were highly trained. In addition, spent a large percentage of their weekly training at efforts around 90% or higher of their maximum heart rate. So, it isn’t the amount of mileage you are doing that counts most.
What percentage of your weekly training are you running at or far below your goal 2 mile race pace? Is it 5%? 10 percent? The world’s top runners spend about 40 percent of their weekly volume training at very high speeds.
Of course, they also know how to take it easy and relax as well. Remember, all of the benefits of the hard training you are doing come from when you are resting. Your body is actually 2 to 3 times weaker immediately following a speed workout or tempo run. So, if they can slow down considerably on recovery days so should you and I.
I was able to eventually hold 5:19 mile pace for 26.2 miles running a 2:19:35 marathon. It was not uncommon for me to run 8 to 9 minute mile pace on my easy days. In addition, I was not concerned with my overall pace on these days either. Again, quality is what counts most.
What is a Good Time for a 2 Mile Run?
A good 2 mile time will vary from athlete to athlete. There are many Soldiers who think a time under 12 minutes is a good 2 mile time. I agree with this. You do need some fitness and ability in order to sustain sub 6 minute mile pace for 2 consecutive miles. The faster you are seeking to run this distance the more focus on speed development comes into play.
Kenya’s Daniel Komen is the only man to have ever broken the 8-minute, 2-mile barrier. He ran two, back-to-back miles in 3:59. Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar was the first female to break the 9-minute, 2-mile barrier. I recommend first focusing on a minimum of 4 weeks of easy, base mileage. The reason for this is you want to make sure you tendons, ligaments and muscles are prepared to handled harder training.
There are resources here that will help speed up your learning curve. Are you seeking an online running coach? If so, we do have a private, coaching community where I consult and coach athletes. In addition, have build 2-mile training plans as well ranging from 8 to 16 weeks in length. 4 months in the preferable time frame to fully prepare to run a fast 2 mile time.
How Do I Train for ACFT 2 Miles?
How many days a week are you running to prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test 2 mile run? The majority of Soldiers are not running enough. Yes, we do mandatory morning PT but is it effective? How much time do we normally waste time counting off exercises during warm-up and cool-down? Be honest. How much of that time could have been better spent running instead?
Of course, there are many benefits of training with your platoon. I get that. That being said, flipping tires and rope climbs are not going to help you sustain goal 2 mile race pace. So, you need to run more than once or twice per week. I also saw a lot of Soldiers falling out of formation runs.
The reason a lot of times was the pace was too fast for their current fitness. In addition, I saw other Soldiers being forced to do sprint drills when they didn’t even have a mileage base put in yet. Again, if you are going to get in superior cardiovascular shape you need to do more than the average Soldier. The average 2 mile time in the military is around 20 minutes. Average doesn’t take a great deal of work.
How Do I Improve My 2 Mile Run Time?
Focus on a longer build up
Remember, it takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks to any stressor you are placing on it. So, you need to think long-term. I understand a lot of times Soldiers won’t have a say in the physical training (PT) they can do in the morning. The way you get around this is run during your lunch break. The second option is to run after work. Again, a fast 2 mile run time is not going to fall in your lap.
The vast majority of Soldiers are doing just enough. Yes, we have some studs and GI Jane’s in the service as well who are putting in extra work. Again, we have three choices in this life. We can choose to be average, good or great. Good and great require for more work output then we realize. So, to run a faster 2 mile time you have to move beyond running once or twice per week.
I recommend focusing on a minimum of 12 and preferably 16 week build up leading into your AFCT 2MR. Of course, you can always do the minimum and get your 60 points. That being said, many Soldiers as well as civilians have time goals in mind. Perhaps, you want to break 15 minutes for the 2-mile distance. A longer build up will provide ample time to get in peak performance shape.
Add in Strides
Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter accelerations. They are too short to build up any legitimate lactic acid. So, you can do these twice per week even during your initial base-building phase of your training build-up. I would recommend continuing to do these throughout your training block. The reason being is over time you will have spent several miles or kilometers at sprint paces.
Again, always be working on your leg turnover and speed development. The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit the more economical (efficient) you are going to perform during this event. I recommend doing 4 to 6, 100-meter strides before, during or after your easy runs. Remember, these are gradual accelerations where only about the last 20 meters of the stride should be all out. Do strides twice per week
What has been the longest long run you have done in training? Has it been the 3 to 4 mile jog you did with your platoon during the week? If so, there is a reason why you are having issues holding race pace. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to run slow for a few miles. It takes painful, consistent training to race 2 miles fast. Again, the goal here is to get you to sustain race pace faster than you ever have.
In order do that you have to think bigger and longer. How much more confident would you feel if you extended that long run out to around 8 to 10 miles in length? How much easier would that 2-mile run feel? A lot of times Soldiers simply aren’t running enough. Sure, running once or twice per week will build some legitimate fitness.
That being said, if the other days of the week you are doing push ups and flipping tires how will this benefit you? Again, the top athletes will put in the work when the majority do just enough. Be patient with yourself. Yes, you may need to start off running once or twice a week if you are not in good shape. So, work yourself up to the point where you are running 4 to 6 days a week.
Longer Tempo Runs Will Make You Dangerous
The longer you can spend training at your anaerobic threshold the better. We conduct our tempo runs at our anaerobic threshold. You are running between 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate running at this effort. The average 2 mile time can be significantly improved by strengthening your lactate tolerance.
Easy running will not produce this physiological effect. Faster running will. What has been the longest tempo run you have done preparing for your 2-mile run? 1 mile? 3? I would recommend working to a point where you are doing 4 to 5 miles instead. Of course, we all have to start somewhere. I usually start athletes at around 2 mile tempo effort in the early parts of the 2-mile training plans.
Our focus is on periodization. So, we focus on specific intensity for around 3 weeks before moving to a higher intensity. Again, it does take time for the body to adapt to the stress load being placed upon it. The key tactic here is to teach the body to clear lactic acid more effectively. Also, to slow down less than the other Soldiers or civilians in your race.
Longer tempo runs are one of the best ways to take an average 2 mile time and make it a superior one.
Focus on Your Speed
The 2 mile run is a highly anaerobic event. It involves speed and endurance. You have much less time to make a mistake in this event versus the marathon which is a highly aerobic event. The three main workouts you need to focus on each week are…
- Easy runs (spent running at or around 130 to 150 beats per minute)
- Tempo runs (spent at 155 to 165+ beats per minute)
- Speed workouts (170+ beats per minute)
A lot of times runners are still running too fast during their easy days. My top recommendation is to consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it. I wouldn’t wear one during speed workouts though. Heart rate monitors are perfect for easy runs to ensure you are in the correct recovery heart rate zone.
In addition, during tempo runs to focus on maintaining the proper pace at anaerobic threshold effort. Speed workouts are vo2 max workouts. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. You are running between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate at this effort. Again, the workouts will help to make your 2 mile race pace feel more like 10k race pace instead.
Examples of Speed Based Workouts to Consider
I wouldn’t focus on doing more than one hard, anaerobic workout per week. Of course, more advanced runners may do more than one but once per week is sufficient for most. The training plans I have created here usually allot about 48 hours of easy running between harder efforts. Again, recovery is key. The real benefits of your hard training are going to come from within the rest period.
Below are some of the types of workouts you may see in the training plans I have made here at RunDreamAchieve…
- 200-300m hill repetitions
- Fartlek workouts i.e. 10 to 20x2min hard followed by 1 min easy or variations thereof
- Road or track intervals ranging in distance from 100 meters to repeat miles
Again, the key tactic here is to get your goal 2 mile race pace to feel easier. Speed workouts and tempo runs will most definitely do this. That being said, you have to have a plan in place. It takes the stress and guessing out of your routine as well.
What is the Minimum Run Time for the ACFT?
You need to run a time of 12 minutes and 45 seconds to get 100 points. A 12:45 is most definitely not an average 2 mile time. You will need to be in solid aerobic as well as anaerobic shape. The Army field manual states the ACFT 2MR is a test of your aerobic endurance.
It is really an anaerobic (without oxygen) test. The faster we run the more oxygen transport throughout the body is needed. So, running easy and relaxed is aerobic and race pace is more of an anaerobic activity. Below are the minimum times you need to run according to your MOS (military occupational specialty) unit status to give you 60 points
- Minimum score for Soldiers in moderate demand units: 21:07
- Minimum score for Soldiers in significant demand units: 19:00
- The minimum score for Soldiers in heavy physical demand units: 18:00
Faster Long Runs
We don’t start doing these style of long runs until the athlete has first build a legitimate base of easy mileage. Fast long runs are very demanding. It was not uncommon for me to take 2 to 3 days of easy mileage the days after doing runs like this. That being said, I improved my 5K (14:18), 10 mile (50:54), half-marathon (1:07:06) and marathon (2:19:35) personal bests using this tactic. It will also help you considerably in your 2-mile run effort.
I know a lot you are also focusing on road races that are much further than 2 miles. So, these types of long runs can help you cover all distances faster. Below are some examples of the types of varied paced long runs I was doing prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier. Of course, long runs would be significantly shorter if I were training for the ACFT 2MR. That being said, notice the variation in paces here.
- 2 mile jog, 4 miles@5:35 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@5:50 mile pace, 3 miles easy (18 miles)
- 2 mile jog, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 mile easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 3 miles@6:00 mile pac (22 miles)
A faster paced long run if I were focused on specifically the 2 mile may look like this if aiming to run a sub 10 minute 2-mile time.
- 1 mile jog, 2 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 mile easy, 1 mile in 5:10, 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 5:20, 1 mile jog (10 miles)
A lot of military and civilian athletes start to drop their volume and intensity too far out from their main race. The vast majority do a 3-week taper prior to their big events. I recommend considering adopting a 10-day taper instead. I have used this strategy throughout my military and civilian racing career. It works and the training philosophy I teach here has worked for many other runners as well.
10 days is plenty of time to fully rest up prior to your all out 2-mile run. The key tactic here is to continue to remind your legs of what you are training them to do only a few days out from the key effort. A lot of times runner who do a 3-week taper go into their main race feel lethargic and tired. You should feel completely rested and energized. I have found that a 10-day taper is the way to go.
I hope that this post on how to take your average 2 mile time and improve upon it has been helpful. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create videos there each week to help both military and civilian runner get new personal bests over their chosen events. Lastly, make sure to implement mental training into your routine.
Your goals have to start in the mind before they ever can become reality in real life. So, during your training spend 10 to 15 minutes daily visualizing yourself succeed. Also, getting across the finish line with your goal 2 mile run time on the clock. Continue to practice staying relaxed during your training too. Remember, the best runners always are the most relaxed.
So, do the best you can to minimize any undue mental or physical stress you are placing on yourself. Remember, the less stress the better the performance. Take confidence in your preparation and always make training the most difficult part of the process. The race itself should be the celebration of your hard work.