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Another 1.5 Mile Run Time Question

by Jon P
(Tucson, AZ)

I am 30yrs old and currently approximately 55lbs overweight. I am in the process of losing weight for upcoming law enforcement processes of which the 1.5 mile run is a requirement.

I currently can run for approx. 40 minutes at a long run pace (hrt zone 1). However I cannot run the 1.5 mile distance at a pace fast enough to qualify for the testing processes (12:00min). I have to stop multiple times and I have an intense burning feeling in my calves (seems like more than just lactic acid burn).

Right now my best 1.5 mile time is 16:00 mins. I realize that I need to increase my base but my question is should I look to increase mileage or time for my easy runs?

I should let it be known that at this point I am not a huge fan of running for sport. I have no desire to do anything other than complete my 1.5 mile requirement in a good time but I am committed to reaching my goal so I will do what is necessary.

In regards to building my base for the 1.5 mile run what should my objectives be? Should I be striving for a certain amount of time or a certain distance?

Also seeing that I need to increase my pace for the 1.5 mile run in addition to building my pace in a relatively short amount of time (3 months) should I add tempo or interval runs right off the bat once or twice a week?

Help on this would be much appreciated!

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Jon,
Thanks for your running training questions. Yes, another 1.5 mile run question... I get asked quite a few!

You are asking all the right questions. I'll try to cover off on all of them.

You are currently already able to run 40 minutes at a slow pace. That's a great base. I am guessing that in that time you cover about 3 miles or so? I would say that you need to increase your longest run a little more. The more the better but it would be great if you'd be able to get it to about 5-6 miles or about an hour of running.

Whether you aim for distance or time is not that important. More important is that you run regularly.

Now, I am not sure how often you currently run. If these 40 minutes of running is your standard run that you do three times a week or so, then I would say that it is probably a good moment to start throwing in speed sessions.

If not, then I would recommend that the first 4 weeks you spend doing easy runs and no speed. Use that time to build up your longest run bit by bit and to get used to running regularly, i.e. 3-4 times per week.

Note that consistent running alone will help a great deal when trying to improve your running times.

After a month of consistent easy running you can start introducing some speed to your training, like tempo running or interval running.

Now, running faster gives you a greater risk of all kinds of injuries. And it is tougher on your legs as you have noticed in previous 1.5 mile runs. So, make sure you introduce speed sessions to your training with care.

E.g. when I get into interval running I always like to start off with a session that is just 3 min easy, 1 min hard. The week after I go to 3 min easy, 2 min hard, etc.

Just build it up easily and you will find that interval running can be enjoyable. Tough, sometimes painful, yet enjoyable... :)

Same with tempo running. Start with tempo intervals of maybe 5 minutes or so and build up from there.

Note that a great little tool for these types of sessions is the Gymboss.

Given that you do not like running that much, consider some cross training as well. I would not run less than 3 times a week, but in addition to your running sessions you can spend some time on the stationary bike, elliptical trainer, rowing trainer, do some weights or whatever takes your fancy.

It would be great if in the next 3 months you could shed some of that extra weight by doing a workout program like this. Every pound you lose will probably make you about 3-5 seconds faster already, and that's without the training. Also check out my page about running for weight loss.

Even though you seem far away from your 1.5 mile run time goal, you can already run 40 minutes non-stop and you are willing to put in the effort to make it to this goal.

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Train consistently and you will be able to shave off quite some time. No guarantees, but those 12 minutes do not get me too worried yet.

Best of luck and feel free to ask more questions if necessary.

Kind regards,

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