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Running Distance vs. Running a Timed Run Fitness Test

Stew Smith, CSCS

Sometimes we think we are in shape because a “test looks easy” or “you were in shape in high school”, but many people fail to prepare for a fitness test and wind up realizing they need to change their training AND their thinking.  Check out this email:

Stew – I run all the time 4-5 days a week and usually get 25-30 miles a week, so I have a runner’s body.  I just tried out for the FBI fitness test for Special Agents and thought that the calisthenics and the run would be a joke.  Well, I was wrong.  I almost failed the 300m and the 1.5 mile runs and did fail the sit-ups.  What gives?  I thought I was in shape?

You know I get this often from people in sports – athletic shape also.  Training for a fitness test is just a different way to train.  It is not any harder just different.  But, basically to get better at taking fitness test, you need to practice taking fitness tests.  Otherwise, you are filled with unnecessary PFT anxiety prior to the test and you do not know how to prepare for the transitions of the PFT.

The fundamentals of taking a fitness test are the following:

1-     Add speed / pace workouts to your running so you are prepared for a timed run at a faster pace than a jog.  Good goals for men and men are 7-8 minute mile pace respectively.

2-     Prepare muscles by stretching prior to pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups type exercises. 

3-     Most importantly, prior to running / after calisthenics, get the blood back to your legs by warming up the legs by jogging, stretching upper body and legs. (transition training)

4-     Practice, practice, practice – you should take the test once a week to mark progress and see where you need to focus your next week workouts.  This will help you with the anxiety of the unknown of the test and the only butterflies you will be feeling is good competition adrenaline that will enhance your performance on test day.

Here is something to consider. 

Runner’s Body – You have a great foundation of distance but if you have not pushed your limits of speed just jogging several miles a week is not going to prepare you for timed runs where 6-7 minute mile paces are likely the competitive zone.  Add speed work like this:

Repeat 6-10 times
¼ mile run at GOAL pace (not a sprint)
rest 1 minute

The goal here is to learn the pace you need for the run event.  After you can do quarter miles, build up to half miles for 3-4 sets, and then miles for 2-3 sets.  The next thing you know, you are hitting sub 6-7 minute mile pace no problem.  The GOAL pace is to teach you the pace to train and to get comfortable at that pace for whatever distance you are being tested.


Football Players – Many football players and other athletes think 1.5 – 2 miles runs are long distance runs.  This is an adjustment as well.  Not only do you need a foundation of some distance running, but you need to slow down your 100m running pace to a slower pace suitable for standard timed runs.  The same workout above works well but you typically have to slow down to reach 1:45 quarter mile runs for a 7 minute mile pace.  This is easy at first but after 6- 8 sets of this it will challenge most of this body type.  Also building up to 3-5 miles runs over a few months is going to be helpful to transition from football / power athlete to military endurance tactical athlete.  See related article Spec Ops Prep

But for both groups, here is a great running plan that has helped many in the past to prepare for 1.5 -2 mile run tests:  6 Week Running Plan

For those of you who are just beginning to run after a long period of time of no activity due to injury or lack of motivation, here is where you need to start:

 Beginner Running Chart for people seeking to start an exercise plan and/or need to lose 20+ lbs:   (always start run workout with a quick 5:00 walk / light leg stretch).  I highly recommend the RUN / WALK method as you are learning to run.

IMPORTANT – get running shoes, not some old shoes you find in the back of your closet.  Check out www.bodynsolesports.com – they are a great shoes store (great prices) but you will learn about good running shoes.

 Each Run Workout is to be done THREE times a week

Week 1

Walk 20-30 minutes / stretching entire body daily  (monitor weight loss*)

Week 2

Run 1:00 / Walk 1-2:00 for 20-30 minutes

Week 3

Run 1:00 / Walk 1:00 for 30 minutes (listen body as injuries occur this week**)

Week 4

3 Sets of Run 1:30 / Walk 1:30 | 3 Sets of Run 2:00 / Walk 1:00

Week 5

3 Sets of Run 2:30 / Walk 1:00 | 3 Sets of Run 2:00 / Walk 30 seconds

Week 6

4 Sets of Run 3:00 / Walk 1:30

Week 7

Run 1 mile / try non-stop / walk 1 mile fast

Week 8

Run / walk combo 2.5 miles  (from weeks 8-10 – try to run as much as you can)

Week 9

Run / walk combo 2.75 miles

Week10

Run / walk combo 3 miles

  • ** Typically injuries occur during running programs the 3rd week IF too aggressive with initial training

I hope this helps you with your running fitness testing but also help you learn how to build up to running longer distances, faster timed runs, and most of all just get healthier.

 


+12
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    rickkd6

    over 4 years ago

    230 Comments

    I tested about two years ago. I hadn't run in a couple years but I did a lot of hiking and poured on the coals climbing the hills. I smoked most of the group on the 300 but with the 1.5 so close ( p.o.s.t. standard)the 1.5 was tuff. Used to be in the league with Donald 2 miles in 11 minutes...... 30 years ago. I had a pretty bad accident in March, spent three weeks hospitalized and had to keep my hip and left leg immobile for twelve weeks. I started hitting one of my favorite trails in Tahoe and am now up to about 4.5 miles max at about a 2.7 mph pace on about a 10% grade (2.2 up 2.2miles back). My legs are finaly feeling solid enough to run and I was trying to figure out a program to get back to 100% and I think Stew's program might be the ticket. I am in physical therapy but they REALLY take the safe route. Great information. Thanks

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    lobstertate

    over 4 years ago

    72 Comments

    Very useful. I think I am going to start doing this.

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    scfredjr

    over 4 years ago

    348 Comments

    LuDah. It means minutes. gotta keep that heart rate up:)

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    LuDah

    over 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    what does the 1:30 numbers mean? I thought they meant minutes but it seems like they mean mileage is that right, is mileage?

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    UNIT111D

    over 4 years ago

    478 Comments

    Thanks for the tips

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    DonaldElam

    over 4 years ago

    2 Comments

    My target is to get to 2 miles in 11 mins right now i am at a 14 min 2 mile for my pt test i always think im in shape until i take the test and i am hurtin while i am testing and any other time when i run i can go forever. i usually hit my first mile just under 6 min but its down hill after that any tips on this?

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    Anonymous

    almost 5 years ago

    I look forward to trying this out the information is very useful. Since I always have troble running and always fail the running.

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    Anonymous

    almost 5 years ago

    I look forward to trying this out the information is very useful. Since I always have troble running and always fail the running.

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    Anonymous

    almost 5 years ago

    I'm going to start this. This information is very useful. Understanding that it's not just about being able to run 1.5, but all the other factors that are at play. Pacing, to get the right time, eating right, stretching, etc. Very helpful and insightful. Thank you

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    dannyj860

    almost 5 years ago

    10 Comments

    Thank you for your tips. They are really helpful.

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