"I had a question. As you know, I am a Marine and our fitness test requires a 3 mile run in 18 min. I want to improve my current time. With all you years of experience, I thought to get some tips to reach a targeted time, who would be better then to ask you.
What would you suggest? How do you improve your running time on a set distance?"
Assuming that you are already doing some consistent training, I refer back to the May article I posted on interval training.
The following is a sample 6 week progression that you could use leading to a sub 18 minute 3 mile target:
Week 1: 6 x 400 in 85-87 sec 2 min rest
Week 2: 6 x 400 in 85-87 sec 90 sec rest
Week 3: 8 x 400 in 82-85 sec 2 min rest
Week 4: 8 x 400 in 82-85 90 sec rest
Week 5: 4 x 800 in 2:50-2:52 2 min rest (longer rest is ok!)
Week 6: 6 x 400 in 80-82 sec 2 min rest
Interval workouts are generally run during the middle of a week, however you could do them on a weekend if you are not racing. As you become more comfortable with this type of training and your 3 mile test is about 4 weeks out, you can also add another tempo run on the weekend. Use it as a race simulation- go for 1 mile at your 6 min goal pace, rest 5 min, then repeat.
Another option would be a 1.5 mile time trial- bringing that time down should translate to a faster 3 mile. I've found that a 1.5 mile time trial is a great way to simulate racing a 5K - you are exposed to a fast pace and the same type of fatigue you'll experience running a 5K but the shorter distance is much easier to handle. Three or 4 of these before your test will make a big difference.
Remember, you need to be fresh going into these tempo and interval workouts- nothing too long the day before.
Finally, for additional strength you can slow increase one run per week so that you are going 60 min or longer. Run these at an easy pace- you are building resistance to fatigue and not speed.
This gives you 3 key workouts per week to focus on- 1 interval session, one tempo session, and one easier, longer session. Give it some time and let me know how you are doing!
(c) Dave Elger 2007 All rights reserved