Overcoming The Physical Training Test

Physical training is a huge component of military life.

This is an post I wrote for the Daily PT for military members working to improve their 2-mile run time but has relevance in helping you as well so wanted to share it with you. Enjoy.

I had a conversation with a fellow Soldier today about the Kenyans. We had a stress shoot (you all know what I am talking about!).

If you don’t it is pretty much a smoke session to test how you shoot when tired. Flipping tires and logs while running for long periods of time will do the job.

Well, knowing I had to represent Military.com’s Daily PT community, I layed it on the line and received the fastest completion time for the Battalion.

I won’t go into details as to why we were having a stress shoot, that is a whole other story, but my teammates got fired up about the effort so running came up.

Listen, the Kenyans are good but there are countless other Americans, Europeans and other runners from around the world who succeed at running.

They simply spend more time doing it. If you are performing poorly on your run time. There are a few things I am going to discuss that I hope you will take to heart and can benefit you on future PT tests.

I value constructive criticism and have (and never will be) an unapproachable leader or athlete. If a private has knowledge that I don’t have, rest assured, I will be asking questions to learn.

My ideas may or may not be best for you but know, what I write, comes from a great deal of passion to seeing people healthier and happier at distance running.

The question the Officer asked me was this. “Why are the Kenyans so good”? I’ll tell you what I told him and that is, it is not that the Kenyans are so much better then other runners in the world. For example, the Japanese are equally as good at running as the Kenyans.

The advantage they have is that they have spent years putting in mileage, time on their legs and building their cardiovascular system…catching up to runners who have thousands of miles on their legs is a very difficult thing to do.

In comparison, take the average American who gets bused to school. We live in a nation where we possess the luxury of driving everywhere. Do you not think that you would be a drastically faster runner if you were forced to live in a nation like Kenya and had to walk or run everywhere you went? I know I would.

The New York Times did a great article on this called The Human Body Is Built For Distance What I found most interesting from the message was that in early times (when driving to the local McDonalds to get a bite to eat wasn’t an option) human hunters chased their prey for hours until it overheated making it easy to kill at close range.

The point is, we don’t spend enough time running anymore. Have you witnessed the massive improvements you see with the contestents of the biggest loser when they are forced out of their comfort zone?

It is ridiculous, but proves if you are willing to make the necessary changes, major changes can occur in your physiology from working out.

Running is the greatest way to do this. You burn roughly 100–110 calories for every mile you run. In turn, your burn a greater amount of calories after you run, which adds to your bodies capability to burn fat.

You have to find a way to see running as more pleasurable then painful. It isn’t easy, but the sooner you see the greater benefits it will bring to your life, the better you will be at the activity.

So what can you start doing today that will take your running ability from non-​​existent to inspiring and motivating your teammates? Motivating yourself!

#1 Build A Larger Mileage Foundation

The more time you spend running during the week, the better. What I have seen Soldiers and civilians do, that is counterproductive, is trying to jump into anaerobic workouts before any aerobic work has been done. You are putting the cart before the horse.

I could take a 14 minute two-​​miler and make him or her a 12 minute two-​​miler in a matter of a couple months on mileage alone. I once ran a 51.29 10-​​mile time off of consistent 90–100 mile weeks (with no speed workouts).

I mention this to prove a point, that regardless what your ability level is, laying a strong foundation of mileage is going to create drastic improvements in your 2-​​mile run time.

Think about it. If you are a 17 minute 2-​​miler and you run just ten miles more per week and consistently hold that effort for 8 weeks straight. Do you really not think that you would become a better runner?

The payoff would be huge. Foundation is key and often times it is completely overlooked. If you have a PT test coming up in two weeks and all you have been doing is a 2 or 3 mile run once a week, it is no wonder the experience of running all-​​out would frighten most who dislike running.

Spend more time doing it and I guarantee you will start to like what your doing. You will like even more how fit and easy your perceived effort will now be. This is the trick, getting the rust off your shoulders and fine-​​tuning the ability that you have already had but didn’t realize.

I am not saying it will be easy but to see results it simply is what has to be done. The longer you spend building your foundation the stronger, healthier and lethal you will be when it comes time to attack that 2-​​mile effort.

If you are lacking on motivation I wrote a post that can help you called A Dose Of Motivation | Leave No Stone Unturned To Run Your Best

#2 Get More Sleep

If you are putting in more mileage and spending time becoming a better athlete, then getting more sleep is the name of the game. I know Soldiers like to have a good time, especially on the weekends.

You have to discipline yourself to get to bed earlier (when and if you are able to depending on your military schedule). I know how you feel, sometimes it feels nearly impossible to keep up with daily tasks and still finding the time for yourself.

Remember this, the army will be here long after us, take care of yourself and make the effort to improve on this.

Your mission is probably not to be a world-​​beater, but just to enjoy running more and that is exactly what I want for you. Take your sleep just as serious as the training you are doing to be a better runner. The value in doing workouts comes during the rest, not the workout itself.

This may sound strange at first but what I mean is the adaptation from that workout occurs during rest so value the sleep you can get. If you are accustomed to a late-​​night schedule like my brother, adjust the time you go to bed by an hour. An extra hour of sleep will make the difference in you getting the best from your workouts.

#3 Do Workouts Specific To Your 2-​​Mile Goal

Remember, to run the time you are aiming for, you have to do workouts specifically designed to cater to that goal time. In 2007, I was doing everything I could to learn what it took to run a marathon in 2.22.00 (5.25 per mile for 26.2 miles).

I needed that time to qualify for the 2008 USA Mens Olympic Marathon Trials. What I did was spent time training at and exceeding that pace in preparation. It wasn’t easy and I had failures along the way but was able to get under 5.20 pace and average 5.19 per mile for the distance.

Let’s say you have a 2-​​mile best of 15.00 and you want to run to get down to 13.30. You are looking to average 6.45 per mile. What do you have to do to hold that pace? The two above mentioned ideas are two great ways to get you there but you have to practice your pace.

A few good workouts after you have spent a solid 4–6 weeks running more mileage then you have been putting in the past are:

10x1min hard followed by 1 minute easy…hard pace would not be all-​​out, but uncomfortable. Easy pace could be a total jog at first, but in time, you want to maintain the same hard pace but increase the pace you are running during the easy efforts.

Why? You are holding a faster pace despite being fatigued and trust me, your body will adapt and this is when running becomes fun. You see results and the distance you ran before is covered in a much faster time weeks down the road.

4x1mile at 10 seconds faster then goal race pace. A 13.30 time means you must maintain 6.45 per mile pace so you will aim to hit each mile rep at 6.35 with an 800m jog recovery. The trick is not just hitting the planned target time, but roughly three weeks down the road decreasing your recovery time. Remember, it takes approximately 21 days for physiological adaptation within the body.

What It Means

If you did a mile in 6minutes 35seconds and you jogged your two-​​lap recovery in 7 minutes, then you want to aim for maintaining the same effort, but this time, jogging your recovery in 6 minutes. You are not only running your miles at 10 seconds faster then your planned pace you want to hit, but you also gain confidence in running faster on your recovery.

Keep in mind, there are not going to be any recoveries in your 2-​​mile. You want stamina and the strength to hold the pace. You will gain both by doing workouts like this.

As you get fitter you can plan your training around more complex and difficult workouts that will totally take your 2-​​mile time to another level. You do this by running more mileage, building an enormous foundation (this could be 10 miles a week from nothing for some to 20 miles a week to 65 miles week for someone else) and start focusing on workouts specifically designed to drop your times.

The payoff is enhanced fitness, decreased run times at much easier perceived effort and a mindset change that you, just like the Kenyans, can be a strong runner. Once you have done the above mentioned training tips try doing..

8x800m repeats in 3.00 with 400m recovery 2.00. You are now running your reps at 30 seconds faster then your goal pace and your recovery is only 30 seconds slower then your goal pace during your rest recovery.

You spend time doing what I have mentioned above and you are going to see huge dividends payed back to you in performance. Bottom line, I want to see you improve. I see so many Soldiers, as well as civilians, sell themselves short thinking they are simply not good at running. It isn’t true and you can be great at it with enough attention to detail.

This whole process takes time and a razor sharp focus for change. It isn’t easy but nothing worthwhile is. You are a far better runner then you think you are.

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