Improve Run Times | Use Leverage and Train Smarter

improve run times

What is the best way for Soldiers to improve run times on their APFT?

Let me discuss a bit of my background to before I answer that question.

This post is dedicated all military members here in the states and world-wide.

The two mile run was my main event when I was in high school.

I began running the event as a freshman running 11.30 the first time I attempted it.

I had no idea what I was doing. How to run, break the race up or if I was even able to finish the distance.

My brother was a shot put and discus thrower and talked me into trying out for the track and field team. Well, 30 years later I still credit him for guiding me into the sport.

How Can I Drastically Improve My Run Time?

I was able to lower the time down to high school 3200m time down to 9.46 with not a lot of mileage. Of course, I didn’t have a great deal of talent. That being said, what I did have was work ethic.

I didn’t know how to pace myself in high school. So, I hit the first mile in 4.44 when I ran 9.46 and slowed to 5:02 for the second mile.

What I see with a lot of military runners is that they make the same mistake I made. So, dial down your pacing and your second mile will be run much faster. I created the ACFT 2 Mile Running Course to help military member score higher. In addition, run faster on their military physical fitness tests.

We call this ‘negative splitting’ in the marathon world. So, you improve run times by proper pacing. In addition, not running so fast, so soon.

Remember, proper pacing is the key to running a great 2 mile time. 

How Long Does it Take to Improve Run Times?

Soldiers and servicemen and women are highly motivated as it is. It is very easy to get carried away during an all-out effort. A proper time frame to build up for most races is between 12 to 16 weeks.

I have read a great deal on race strategies and probably the most important of these is relaxing.

The key to running faster is running relaxed. Yes, you can drop 2 or 3 minutes off your two mile time with a proper training build up. That being said, it does take patience. Remember, it takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load being placed on it.

So, allow sufficient time for your body to rest between each anaerobic workout that you do.

Economical meaning functioning at its highest efficiency. The more relaxed you will be and improve run times.

Can You Improve Run Time in 2 Weeks?

No, it will very difficult to improve run time in a matter of 2 weeks. Again, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt. Remember, focus on what you can control yourself. Focusing on how fast someone else is going out in the race is a distraction and not worth your energy.

Remember, it is your overall finish time you want.

Run smarter and you’ll get to the finish ahead. In addition, with a much faster time had you went out at someone else’s pace. So, you improve run times by training sufficient at and far below goal race pace.

Holding back the reins is the hardest thing to do as a runner. Also, failing to do so is the quickest route to the hurt locker.

How Can I Trick My Brain Into Running Longer?

I am a big believer in mental training. So, start spending at least 10 minutes daily seeing yourself crossing the finish line with your goal time on the clock. Remember, we need to train the mind just as we train the body.

I wanted to break 2 hours 22 minutes for the marathon. Obviously, this didn’t happen over night. In fact, it took me 15 years to break the 2 hour and 20 minute marathon barrier.

So, I had to get humbled by members of the army’s world class athlete program when I was still at my first duty assignment at Fort Carson.

I saw the differences between the guys wanting to run at the world level. In addition, I took the constructive criticism I received from my fellow brothers in arms to heart.

The military work week is sometimes far too busy. Go out for a run, de-stress and let off some steam.

Trade a beer for a run. Improvements in running come from sustained, boring and repetitive work. You improve run times by thinking long-term. So, you don’t want to rush the process. Great results come with time and patience.

It isn’t fun but I can guarantee you it is fun to run fast and drop time off your previous best.

Gear Your Workouts Properly

A few examples:

Goal Time: 15.00

Average Pace: 7.30 per mile

Suggested workouts:

1 mile warmup. 8x400m running each 400m rep in 1.52 with a 3 minute recovery between each rep. Also, you want to drop your recovery time and maintaining the same goal pace effort as you gain fitness. 1 mile cool down.

1 mile warmup. 3 mile run on the track sprinting the straight aways and jogging the corners. 1 mile cool down. So, it is a simple fartlek workout that works. You are running a total of 1.5 miles far ahead of goal pace.

Think of how easy a two mile effort is going to feel when you have already adapted to sprinting nearly the entire distance. What does it translate to?

Efficient running.

It takes time to build into fitness. The first workout is very similar to the one I have used training for the marathon.

Obviously, your pace is going to be slower and your rest is going to be longer until you get fitter.

Your body adapts. So, the idea is to increase the pace of your speed sessions and decrease the recovery time needed between each rep.

An example of a workout I use to prepare for marathons would look like this:

Goal Marathon Pace: 5.10 per mile

10x1000m (2 and half laps) in 3.12 (5.10 mile pace) with a 600m recovery at 7.00 mile pace.

I would do the same workout only run the 600m recovery jogs at 6.30 mile pace. 30 seconds faster three weeks into the future. Remember, it takes about 21 days for your body to adapt to any stress load you place on it.

No changes are made in the goal pace.

How Can I Run Faster Without Getting Tired?

Be patient and follow a 12 to 24 week training plan. Also, continue to develop your leg speed and start doing faster, long runs. I would recommend doing a faster long run one weekend followed the next by an easy, relaxed long run. Is your goal to run 5:10 mile pace for the marathon? If so, the hard 1000 meter reps are still hit in 3.12 but the recovery time drops.

So, you want to do workouts where you are maintaining pace. In addition, practicing the pace you want to run the entire distance at. Lastly, teaching your body to handle less rest.

Keep in mind you don’t get rest breaks in the middle of a race. So, train in such a way where you have handled paces at or above your goal pace with little rest.

Your running will become more automatic. Also, your easy runs will be run at a much faster pace.

As you gain anaerobic fitness you run further distance at a much lower heart rate.

Your heart doesn’t have to work nearly as hard as it did when you were first starting out.

The more workouts you do at above your goal race time the faster your easy pace will become too.

You go out and run a 5 mile morning run in 40 minutes. The result 6 weeks in the future will be running at the same perceived effort in 38 minutes.

rundreamachieveClosing Thoughts

Yes, it is boring at times but you forget all that when you run a huge personal best.

The work has paid off.

It isn’t rocket science. That being said, there is more to running then just putting one foot in front of the other.

Learn to gradually lengthen the distance of your easy runs and. Remember, relax on your recovery days.

Some of the world’s fastest Kenyans run as slow as 12 to 14 minute per mile pace on their easy days. These are men who are running well under 5.00 per mile during their marathons. So, how to improve run times is about training smarter, not necessarily harder.

You can’t run hard every day and there is nothing wrong with running as slow as your grandma on your easy days. Plan well, take your time and watch the results fall in your lap. Be sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel.

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