Army Physical Fitness Test - 4k in 20 min.

by Peter

My name is Peter. I am 29 years old, 5.10 feet tall, and I weigh 68kg. I need to be able to run 4km in 20 mins. Right now, I'm able to run that same distance in 27 mins. I have 3 months to prepare for it. What should I do?

Answer by Dominique:

army physical test

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your question about your army physical fitness test.

Three months to prepare is a good amount of time to improve. Let's work hard and achieve some decent improvement!

Basically what you need is:

1. Consistency
2. Mostly slow running
3. Some faster running
4. Focus on becoming a better athlete


For somebody wanting to improve their running, I usually provide the guidance that they need to run a minimum of three times per week.

More is great, but not everybody can handle it when they start out. And I'd rather that you don't get injured. So, run three times per week. Each week. Every week.

Then add some cross-training (e.g. exercise bike, rowing machine, etc.) to build up additional fitness while giving your running muscles a rest.

Mostly Slow Running

Do most of your runs at a slower pace, but try to cover the distance and more, i.e. try to go further than your 4k. When you are comfortably able to cover 8-10k, that 4k race is suddenly very short and very doable. Your 4k run depends a lot on the development of your aerobic system. The funny thing is: the more long and slow running you do, the faster you will get!

Some Faster Running

army physical test
Do some of your runs faster. Once per week do some interval running or fartlek workouts. An alternative is tempo running. With your faster running you want to test yourself out at paces either a little bit above or a little bit below goal pace.

Your goal pace is 5 min/km. It would be great if you could work up to do intervals in which you run at a speed of 4:30-5:00 min/km. Try a few 400m repeats doing that, then next week try a few 800m repeats, then maybe 1k repeats, etc.

Play with the distance of your intervals, don't just do 400m repeats only. It's one of the big mistakes I see people make. They get quite used to the interval speed over a 400m distance, but as soon as it gets a little bit longer they falter.

A good combination of easy runs, long runs and the weekly faster workout should help you improve.

Focus on Becoming a Better Athlete

In addition to the running you might want to make sure you get some weightlifting or bodyweight exercises (e.g. push-ups, crunches, pull-ups, etc) in as well. Usually an army fitness test contains an endurance component (running), but could also include a strength test. So, aim to become a better athlete, rather than "just" a better runner.

If you want some more running training information I can highly recommend any of the following pages:

Improve Your Running

Running Workouts Page - Different running workouts explained.

Best of luck with your test.
Kind regards,

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