Pace Yourself, But You Also Must Learn to Run Fast

Timed runs (both short and long) during mandatory group PT will require you to log regular practice and maintenance miles to maintain your abilities. Prior to testing events every six months, you may want to make a few changes to increase intensity, speed and pace so you can run faster.

There are two competitive paces you need to master to qualify for most tactical communities, the goal-time pace required for short timed runs and the sustainable goal-time pace needed for longer group runs or rucks.

Learn to run fast enough to keep your time well above minimum standards. The closer you are to the minimum passing standards, the closer you are to failing the run on a bad day. You do not have to be the fastest in your group at these paces, but practicing a variety of paces for all of your training runs will help you tremendously.

Doing long, slow distance runs several times a week only will make you good at slower runs (unless you’re also mixing in some of these goal pace sets). You will learn that 10-20 fast miles a week will help you more with running tests than 40-50 slow miles a week and also save you from unnecessary overuse injuries.

The following is a sample week running plan that progresses to a fast 10-15 miles a week by increasing one mile per week with increasing interval sets or longer distance runs.

The goal is to use a variety of methods to get those 10 miles of running done fast. Goal pacing, hills, sand, sprint intervals, mobility, non-impact cardio and leg PT can help you accomplish your goals.

Warm up each day with a one-mile jog or 10-minute bike ride as desired, followed by light and dynamic stretches.

Learn Your Goal Pace. If you have a goal, consider getting faster by a minute per mile each cycle. If you currently run an 8-minute mile pace for your timed runs, make the 7-minute mile pace your next goal and push the times on the intervals accordingly:

6-minute mile = 1:30 quarter-mile (400 yards) or a 3-minute half-mile (800 yards)

7-minute mile = 1:45 quarter-mile (400 yards), 3:30 half-mile (800 yards)

8-minute mile = 2 minute quarter-mile (400 yards), 4-minute half-mile (800 yards)

Importance of Warming Up and Dynamic Stretches

Here are a week’s worth of workouts designed with this goal in mind. It’s a given that each day must start with the warmup described above.

Monday: Goal pace workouts (@GP). Do 400- to 800-yard sets at your goal mile pace

Tuesday: Moderate distance mixed with speed intervals (hills, sand, stairs)

Wednesday: Goal pace with longer distances (half- to full-mile sets)

Thursday: Take a day off from running and mix in bike, swim or mobility day.

Friday: Lungs and Legs or Testing Day. Do a soft sand run, hills or stairs and leg calisthenics mixed with running.

Saturday: Longer distance run or ruck mixed with sets of timed runs, goal pace and sprints.

Need a break from running? Try mobility work or non-impact cardio. Skip a run day and replace it with one of the options below.

Mobility Day Explained: Day 4 (Thursday) is the mobility day with no running, but if you feel you need to take a day off from running or reduce your overall mileage, opt for one of the non-impact cardio events below to work the legs and lungs if you can do so without pain.

Repeat 5 times
Bike, elliptical, row: 5 minutes
Stretch, foam roll, massage tool: 5 minutes

You can add a second mobility session on the weekend if you prefer OR add a few mini-mobility sessions after the runs as desired by doing 2-3 sets of above instead of 5 sets.

Bike, Rower or Elliptical Tabata Intervals

Repeat 4 times
Running: 5 minutes of 20-second sprints followed by 10 seconds easy run
Recover: 2 minutes easy run

This run series has a total time of 28 minutes.

One Running Week (Add 1 Mile per week for six weeks)


Warm up with a 1-mile jog or 10-minute bike.

Repeat 4-6 times
Run: 400 meters @ GP (goal pace)
Walk: 1 minute

Follow with a 1-mile walk or timed run

You should aim to build up to 8-10 sets in a few weeks.


Warm up with a 1-mile jog or 10-minute bike.

Run hills, beach or bleachers: 15 minutes. Mix in 100- to 200-meter sprint intervals at a fast pace. You should aim to build up to 30 minutes of resistance and speed running sets in 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, you can bike hard instead of running.

Repeat 4 times
Run: 400 meters fast
Jog or walk: 400 meters


Warm up with a 1-mile jog or 10-minute bike.

Repeat 6 times
Run: 400 meters @ GP (goal pace)
Walk: 2 minutes

After a few weeks, try 800-meter runs at goal pace.


Mobility Day


Warm up with a 1-mile jog or 10-minute bike.

Run: 1-2 miles at a fast pace.
Run hills, beach, bleacher: 15 minutes of 100- to 200-meter sprint intervals at a fast pace.

Repeat 4 times
Run: 400 meters fast (build up to 800 meters in a few weeks)
Squat: 20
Lunges: 10 per leg

This is a way to mix in multiple running options that will help you build speed, endurance and leg muscle stamina for shorter, faster timed runs as well as the longer, slower-paced runs or rucks you’ll do when serving in a unit with mandatory PT sessions.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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