As you pack your bags and prepare to embark on the exciting adventure of basic training, you are probably wondering about the basic training Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which you will be required to pass before graduating from boot camp.

We have previously discussed how to improve your sit-up and push-up performance in preparation for the APFT, and today we will share some tips for shaving time off the two-mile run portion of this test.

Five ways to improve your APFT run time

  1. Be sure to properly warm up and cool down

If you are new to running, you may be tempted to dive straight into your run without worrying about warming up before and cooling down afterward. However, this rookie mistake can leave you prone to injury and hurt your overall run time.

By allowing yourself time for a five-minute walking warm-up to gradually increase your heart rate and a five minute cool down period to slowly bring your heart rate back to normal, you will decrease your risk of injury and ensure you are performing at your peak during your training runs.

  1. Don’t forget to stretch

It may seem like an unneeded time-waster, but taking a few minutes to stretch out your calves, hamstrings and hips will not only reduce soreness and discomfort after your runs but will also greatly reduce your risk of injury – which could majorly derail your training efforts.

Regularly stretching to keep muscles limber and injury-free can also improve your stride and speed in the long run!

  1. Incorporate interval training

If you are trying to shave time off your two mile run time, look no further than interval training. This style of training has been proven to improve run time and can help shave up to two minutes off your run time if incorporated into your training over a two-month period.

To add this technique to your training, alternate bursts of speed (1-2 minutes at your fastest pace) with short periods of walking or slowly jogging.

  1. Practice on varying terrains

A smooth, flat running track is not guaranteed for your APFT run, so it is important to train in a variety of environments including hilly areas and trails. Don’t just stick to an indoor track, road or sidewalk. Testing out your skills on alternative terrains will ensure that you are ready to perform at your best on test day – no matter what the test-giver may throw your way.

  1. Consider trying a training schedule

Many popular running sources recommend creating a four-to- five-week training schedule, and sticking to it. These sample schedules from Runner’s World and Very Well lay out clear training goals for each week of your training process to ensure you are ready to give it your all on test day.

Even if you aren’t a runner, you don’t need to dread the two-mile run portion of the APFT. With some hard work and training, even the most novice runner can improve their stride and speed in order to earn a high score on test day.