Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Combat Fitness | Pro Tips for 2 Mile Domination

Are you seeking how to improve on the 2 mile in the new Army combat fitness test? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am pleased you have made it here. I spent just over 20 years on active duty in the US Army. So, I totally understand the complexities of working a full-time job in the military. In addition, training to be as fit as possible for these military physical fitness tests. I didn't see an online resource to help military members improve their cardiovascular endurance. So, created the new Army combat fitness 2 mile running course.

I cover the exact strategies and tactics I used to set new personal bests from the mile to the marathon. My personal best for 2 miles is 9:27. In addition, have also run 14:18 for 5K and 2:19.35 for the marathon. No, these times didn't happen overnight. It took several years of hard training to get to a point where I could run at these paces. In fact, it took me from 1992 to 2007 to hold 13, back-to-back 2-miles at 10:38 each (2.19.35 marathon). How did I do it? Consistent mileage and training at or below my goal race pace.

The key tactic that I teach in the course is to work to improve the body's lactate tolerance. Pace sustainment is our biggest challenge when it comes to racing regardless of the distance. The 2 mile event is a highly anaerobic race distance. In comparison, the marathon is much more aerobic in nature. Yes, you still need speed and stamina even in the 26.2 mile distance. That being said, you really have to pay attention to your speed development in the 2 mile distance.

What Does the Combat Fitness Test Consist Of?

It is going to depend on the military branch you are serving in. The new Army combat fitness test consists of 6 events

  • Plank
  • Sprint-Drag-Carry
  • Standing Power Throw (SPT)
  • Hand Release Push Up
  • 3 Repetition Maximum Deadlift
  • 2 mile run (2MR)
combat fitness
MAJ (ret.) Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place overall at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (5:19 mile pace for 26.2 miles)

So, you will have 5 events to participate in even before you run the 2 mile. So, it is important to not neglect strength training. Remember, you don't need to be in the gym more than twice per week. Focus on light weights and high reps. So, medicine ball drills, box jumps, push ups, sit ups, planks. I would also recommend doing 5-6x100m strides twice per week during your base-building phase. The athlete should focus on running easy, aerobic mileage for at least 4 weeks first. The reason is you want to strengthen your tendons, ligaments and muscles.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARMY ACFT 2 MILE COURSE

Is the ACFT for Record 2022?

Yes, Soldiers will start taking the ACFT for record in October of 2022. I did a couple diagnostic ACFT tests prior to retiring in March of 2022. So, I was able to experience the effects of this new and challenging physical fitness test. My best advice is to not be in a rush with your fitness. Again, the new Army combat fitness 2 mile running course is designed to teach you the proper way to prepare. The course is comprised of 9 modules consisting of 58 video lessons.

I cover the exact training methods I used to set new personal bests from the mile to the marathon distance. Also, the course concludes with a custom-built, 16-week 2 mile training plan built specifically for your goal time. Are you a member of another branch? If so, this course was also designed to help…

  • Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy military members focused on their 1.5 mile event
  • Marines focused on their 3 mile military physical fitness test requirement
  • Indian Soldiers aiming to run a faster 1.6km time
  • Allied military forces aiming to run faster from the mile to 3 mile distance
  • Elite military members (i.e. Navy Seal, Ranger, Special Forces trainees) aiming to run faster at the 4-mile distance
  • Civilians aiming to cover distances from the mile to 4 miles at faster paces

Did the ACFT Get Rid of Leg Tucks?

Yes, as of early 2022 the leg tuck requirement was done away with for the Army combat fitness test. I would still recommend focus heavily on doing consistent sit ups and planks during the week. Remember, a strong core will help to maintain proper form while running at sub-maximal and maximum efforts. Also, practice running as relaxed as you can during the week.

army 10 miler
MAJ (ret.) Pennington (second from left) with the 2010 Army Ten Miler International Championship team

We always have control of the muscular and mental tension we deal with while running. Have you ever watched elite sprinters or runners in competition? They have mastered the art of relaxation. So, the less mental and muscular tension you have the better the performance. Practice keeping your face muscles relaxed as you run. Also, drop your arms a few times while running at faster pace. Lastly, monitor the tension you are feeling in your shoulders and keep them low while running.

A common mistake I saw far too many military members making is jumping fitness stages. You don't start doing sprints, farlkek workouts and faster ability groups runs until you are ready to do so. Again, we want to minimize the likelihood that you will get injured. So, don't get hyped up with being too macho out there. Remember, the athletes getting the best results are the ones who train the smartest. High mileage and harder training don't always equate to better results.

Can You Get Kicked Out of the Army for Failing ACFT?

Yes, you can be flagged for continually failing the Army combat fitness test. My aim with this course is to ensure you don't fail the run. In addition, you will find that the faster you train the more prepared you will be for the other events as well. Superior cardiovascular endurance will also assist you in the other 5 events. The reason being is they are anaerobic in nature. The plank is probably the easiest of the 6 events. That being said, it will only be easy if you are doing consistent sit ups.

We have 3 choices in this life. We can be average, good or great. Greatness is going to demand far more out of us than we currently realize. The athletes running fast times and getting legit scores are those that are simply consistent in their training. The fact that you are here and have read this far already tells me you are seeking excellence.

This new running course is going to take you out of your comfort zone. I want you running not only faster at 2 miles but in longer races as well. Remember, the faster you can cover 2 miles the more competitive you will be at longer distances. Perhaps you want to compete and run fast at the Army 10 miler. I can assure you that what you will be learning in this course will help you to do exactly that. The training methodologies are universal across all distances.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARMY ACFT 2 MILE COURSE

Army ACFT 2 Mile Run Standards

The 2 mile run standards can be easily calculated using the army acft score calculator. So, find out first what scores you need to hit in each event. Remember, the max score you can achieve is 600. Also, the higher you score the higher your chances to receive promotion points if you are an enlisted Soldier. The max score you can achieve on the Army ACFT is 600 points. So, 100 points in each of the 6 events.

You need to score a minimum of 60 points in each of the 6 events to pass or 360 points total. My aim with the new Army combat fitness 2 mile course is to help you surpass the ACFT run standards. Cardiovascular endurance and pace sustainment is a huge challenge for most Soldiers and military members in general. I was very fortunate to have worked with and be coached by world-class runners and coached. So, I went very in-depth on physiology, methodologies and mindset preparation for running fast in this course.

Train at the Proper Intensities

In fact, I am certain that if you follow the tactics I teach in the course you are going to drop substantial time. Again, the 2 mile distance is a highly anaerobic event. So, you have to work on your leg speed. The world's top runners are running between 35 to 40 percent of their weekly volume at higher heart rates. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245. It helps me to ensure I am not running too fast on easy days. Also, too slow on hard days.

Below are the heart rate zones you need to be focused on at each specific intensity. I also teach this in all of my running courses and training plans. Remember, the heart rates (BPM) shown below are based off of an athlete with a max HR of 170BPM. So, focus on the percentages and use them to base your BPM intensities on your respective maximum heart rate.

  • Easy: 65-74% of max HR or around 110-125BPM (65-74% of a max HR of 170BPM)
  • Marathon (moderate effort): 75-84% of max HR or around 127-142BPM
  • Threshold: 85-89% of max HR or around 144-149BPM
  • Interval: 95-100% of max HR or around 161-170BPM
  • Repetition: 105% of max HR

Run Faster Long Runs

Are you consistently doing long runs each weekend preparing for your ACFT? Are you in another branch of the Armed Forces and not doing weekly long runs? If not, now is the time to start getting into the routine of doing these workouts. Imagine how strong and better you will be at covering 1.6km to 4 miles if you lengthen your long run out to 10 miles (16km). I had a lot of military members tell me “I have never been good at running”. My answer back was “how much time have you truly devoted to this”.

So, the problem isn't that you aren't a good runner. It is simply you devotion to the activity has been too low for too long. Now is the time to start changing that. Remember, don't run long and slow every single weekend. You want to also do varied paced, long runs as well. I used this tactic to lower my 10 mile time from 55:32 to 50:54 (5:05 mile pace for 10 miles or 16 kilometers). In addition, my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. So, I know this works. Below are some examples of what varied paced long runs I was doing looked like.

How Do I Train for ACFT 2 Miles?

Of course, you don't need to do 15 to 22 mile long runs for the Army combat fitness test 2 mile run.

I just want you to be thinking over how you should start doing this style of a long run. Again, this is the types of long runs I was doing preparing for the Army 10 miler and marathon competitions. So, for athletes seeking to run fast for 2 miles or longer the duration will be shorter. For example, your long run may be 7 to 10 miles in length as opposed to 19 to 22 miles as shown below.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 mile easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 4 miles@6:20 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:55 mile pace, 1 mile jog (19 miles)
  • 2 mile jog, 10 miles@5:45 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 4 miles@6:15 mile pace (22 miles)

So, a varied paced, long run may look like this

  • 1 mile jog, 3 miles@20 seconds slower than goal 2 mile race pace, 1 mile jog, 2 miles@10 seconds slower than goal 2 mile race pace, 2 mile jog, 1 mile@goal 2 mile race pace, 1 mile jog cool-down (11 miles)

Jog on Recovery Days

Remember, always follow a faster, varied paced long run the next weekend with an easy, relaxed long run. Again, the new Army combat fitness 2 mile running course concludes with a custom-built 16-week training plan. So, this will take the guesswork out of your preparation. In addition, you'll know the proper workouts you need to be doing to surpass your goal 1600m to 4 mile goal race pace. Again, each military branch has their own respective run distances.

So, I built the course to compliment each military branch and their service members.

The training philosophy I teach can help both military members and civilians run faster from the mile to the marathon distance. Again, this is a new style of training. I am sure some of the concepts I teach in this course you have never considered. That being said, I am certain that you are going to drop significant time off of your cardio run distances.

Closing Thoughts

What percentage of your weekly training do you devote to mental training? The vast majority of military as well as civilian athletes don't factor this into their preparation. The world-class runners I have trained, lived with and competed against do. They know that mental as well as physical training is what it takes in order to produce superior results. I credit mental training in helping me earn a USA Track and Field olympic trials “A” standard time in the marathon. In addition, for helping me drop my 5k PR from 15:19 to 14:18.

So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes each visualizing yourself performing the way you are aiming for. It has to happen in the mind before it will ever become reality in real life. The best time to do mental rehearsal is first thing in the morning when you first get up. Also, when you go to bed at night. So, see yourself running relaxed and passing people. In addition, crossing the finish line with your goal time on the clock. I would love to keep in touch with you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel.

I have hundreds of videos there that I have made to help take your running to the next level. In addition, continue to make 2 to 3 new videos there each week. I look forward to interviewing you after you complete this course and hear about your new personal best.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARMY ACFT 2 MILE COURSE