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In the Army - Improving my 2 Mile Time

by Dave
(Lincoln, NE, USA)

I am a 36 year old male who just joined the army. I have not run any long distance so I tried on my own to train and was doing ok but my times are still high.

My one mile is 8.5 min and my two mile is between 17.44 to 18 min.

I now have some injury due to I don't know what but my calf muscles are sore and my running has stopped for now.

I need some help on what to do and how I can increase my running time... I have two months to do this... help me please!

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Dave,
Thanks for your running training question.
I think I can help you with a few running tips.

Regarding the calf pain. You need to work out quickly what's wrong. With calf pain it is usually tense muscles which an osteopath or massage therapist can help you with. One or two sessions with those guys can do wonders!

Now for the running tips:

  • Make sure you run at least 4 times a week, preferably more. Usually I advice people to run at least 3 times a week to see improvements. Not making your army fitness test is pretty serious, so that's why I am saying run 4 times at least.

  • Get fitter doing cross-training as well. Some weight, pilates, bodyweight exercises etc. It all helps in becoming stronger and fitter.

  • Make one of your runs an easy longer run. See Base Running Drills for details around the how and why. Also see Increasing Mileage Safely for advice on how to increase your mileage over time. Build it up to well beyond 2 miles, e.g. 5-6 miles would be very good.

  • Make one run a tempo run. This is just a bit faster than easy running and helps build up your lactic acid threshold, which means you can run faster without your legs getting heavy.

  • Make one run a interval run. This is again a bit faster, but it is not an all-out effort. Start easily, e.g. 3 minutes easy, 1 min hard and step it up week by week until you get to something like 4-5 min hard, 3 min easy. Also see Best Running Tips Newsletter 20 for some advice on this.

  • Your fourth and maybe fifth run of the week can just be easy runs, e.g. 30 min easy.

  • Make sure to leave at least a day between the hard sessions, i.e. long run, tempo run and interval run. They are tougher on the legs. Back-to-back hard sessions increase the chances of injury and overtraining.

  • This should help get you some improvement. Now, I don't know how much you have been training previously. Even though you are in a hurry, you need to be careful with rushing into this.

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    If previously you have been doing 20 minute runs twice a week, then it is a really bad idea to go to 4 runs of 30-40 min immediately. Build it up. If you build it up carefully and consistenly then you can do a whole lot in eight/nine weeks and you should be able to make improvements.

    Hope this helps.
    Best of luck.
    Let me know you how you go in the army physical test!

    Kind regards,

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