Improve Time of 3 Mile Run for Soccer in Less Than a Week

3 mile run for soccer

I am a healthy, fit 16 year old with body fat 9%. I have to run 3 miles in 21 minutes for Varsity soccer and my best time is 21:30.

I have to improve in 1 week. I practice soccer every day for 2-3 hours so hard to work extra running in.

How can I improve?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thank you for your question about running your 3 mile test.

You have not given yourself a lot of time to improve... :) I'll provide you with a few ideas on how to approach the last week and the test itself:

1. What to do in the week before your 3 mile test?
2. What to do during the 3 mile test?

What to Do in the Week Before Your 3 Mile Test?

3 mile run for soccer
2-3 hours of soccer training is quite a lot. I am not sure how much of that is high intensity vs skill-based practice. I'd expect that to give you a strong base of fitness.

Now, I don't know how much of this is in your hands and how much your coach just determines what the schedule is.

But my first piece of advice would be to take it really easy the last two days before the 3 mile test. 2-3 hours of soccer practice is going to wear you out. Taking it easy two days out and taking a full day off before the test will help you recover and get to the starting line fresh. This will give you the best possible chance to do well in this 3 mile test.

Secondly, it would be great if you were able to fit in one or two training sessions in which you can practice running at goal pace, i.e. 7 minutes / mile. You could do 400m or 800m repeats (one or two laps of the athletics track) with a bit of rest in between. A lap should take you about 1 minute and 45 seconds.

What to Do During the 3 Mile Test

3 mile run for soccer
For your 3 mile test, running at the right pace is going to be critical. 3 miles is a long way. The temptation will be to go too fast right after the start. This will feel fine for a little while. Until it doesn't. And then you falter and can lose a lot of time in the second part of the test.

The trick is to run hard, but at a pace at which you are able to go the full 3 miles without having to slow down much. This is where that goal pace practice that I mentioned in the previous section comes in handy. You want to run your first mile in 7 minutes, the second one in 7 minutes and the third one as well. As even as possible. And you want to get a feel for how fast it feels in practice. So that on the day of the test, you go out at a strong pace, without going out way too fast.

There is a real skill to racing and this type of middle distance racing is pretty tricky. You need to hold yourself back a little in the first ten minutes and then push real hard in the last ten.

Final Words

3 mile run for soccer
With 2-3 hours of soccer practice there is very little time and energy left to do structured running training. So, I will refrain from telling you what the best way is to practice for a 3 mile test in the future.

Not that it is going to help you much, but a three mile test for soccer is a little questionable.

Sure, endurance is important in soccer, but it is a whole lot more about being able to do short sprints and to be able to run with the ball than anything else.

Johan Cruyff, one of the all-time greats, flat-out refused to do anything having to do with distance running when he was playing!

Not sure if a 16-year-old can play that same card though... :)

Cruijff simply said that it was not going to make him a better soccer player, so he refused to waste his time doing it. There are some stories about him in which he would get out of some of the long distance runs he would have to do by hiding in the bushes.
After Cruijff had died, Frank Rijkaard told a beautiful story about being a first year player at Ajax and going to hide in the bushes, only to find Johan Cruijff there, the established star, doing the same.

Later in life, Cruijff became his coach. If practice finished with a long run, Cruijff would order Rijkaard to run upfront and lead the way, so that he wouldn't be able to cheat! They never admitted it to each other, but I am sure that they were both smiling inside as it happened.

Best of luck.
Hope you make it.
Kind regards,

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