If running is your jam, why not challenge yourself with a running program that meets military standards? 

Soldiers train to pass an entrance test that may ultimately save their lives one day.  Running two miles in a specific time frame is part of that test. 

For more elite service members, there are additional requirements as well. 

If you want to increase your workouts, running, and cardio, we will discuss how to run and build yourself up to a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon. 

Goals for a Beginner

When you are striving to run like a soldier, you must pace yourself.  Set your goal pace and work up to it slowly. 

Most injuries occur when beginners try to run too far too quickly.  If you are just beginning your running journey, a 6-minute mile pace might be too strenuous. 

Remember, you are working on running for long distances, and starting at that pace might be too difficult.  The last thing you want is for your motivation to be squashed because of an injury.  

Also, cross-training is highly recommended for runners.  Combine running and cardio weight training like calisthenics to get the best results.  Say what?  That’s correct. 

You don’t want to just get your cardio from running.  Run a few miles, bike, or swim to engage that aerobic workout.  The impact on your body while running is intense. 

Getting some low-impact cardio can help alleviate your joints’ pressure and add in calisthenics to increase your body strength.

Speaking of impact on your joints, most training programs recommend the run/walk option if you are a beginner.  For example, if you want to train to run a 5K (3.1 miles), start with just walking the first week at a fast pace. 

The second week start running for one minute and then walking for one to two minutes.  This philosophy will continue to build over ten weeks with more running and less walking. 

By week ten, you will be walking and running in combination for three miles.  5K done!  Elbow fives all around!

Why is walking so important when training?

For one thing, walking is a lot easier on your joints than running. 

If you are just starting, it’s easy to overdo it and get injured.  To avoid that, you want to start at a more manageable pace. 

Not only that, walking is just as good of a cross-training exercise as biking or swimming would be.  It helps to build your endurance so that you can run 6 miles in your race eventually. 

Never underestimate the importance of stretching as well.  The pounding that happens during a run will feel easier on the muscles if they are stretched beforehand.  

Training like Fitness by Service Personnel

If you are training to be in the service, get the military mindset of running. 

Not only are you going to need to run, but you also have to do a specific number of push-ups and sit-ups too.  That is one of the many reasons why cross-training while running is so efficient. 

For the run, you need to run two miles in a certain amount of time, depending on your age and gender. 

For men aged 17-21, the requirement is to run 2 miles in 16 minutes and 36 seconds.  Men aged 22-26 have to run the 2 miles in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. 

For women, the 2 miles need to be run in 18 minutes and 54 seconds for those aged 17-21 and 19 minutes and 36 seconds for those aged 22-26. 

They don’t make it easy because being in the military is hard work.  Your fitness level needs to be top-notch. 

Once you are in the service, running two miles will be a common theme.  It’s common for people not to pass the initial test to get into the service. 

However, if you understand the requirements and what goes into training for them, you should pass with flying colors.  

How Can You Get Faster?

With your workouts, running and cardio go hand in hand.  To achieve a faster pace, you need to aspire to have better overall cardiovascular health. 

One way to accomplish that is to use a treadmill to gauge your speed and progression. 

Recent, in fitness, military.com gave a generic program to follow for a beginner.  The warm-up consists of running for 2 minutes at one mph.  Then increase the speed to 1.5 mph for 2 minutes. 

Switching to your actual workout, you would run 2 mph for 90 seconds and then switch to 4 mph for 30 seconds.  Repeat that until you reached your two miles.  It would take about 45 minutes or so. 

The cooldown would consist of 1.5 mph for two minutes and then one mph for the last two minutes.  

We know what you are thinking.  This is slow, and you need to run the two miles in less than 20 minutes.  This is just for a beginner.  It will take time to get faster, and it’s essential not to push too hard too fast. 

Eventually, you will get to 2 miles and 4 miles and 6 miles and then maybe longer.  Lookout Forrest.  We are coming for you.  Don’t be impatient.  With the proper training, hit that mile at goal pace in no time.  

When am I ready for the Military Running and Cardio Weight Training?

First of all, by now, in your program, you may be noticing some significant cardio weight loss.  That’s right!  You are gaining leaps and bounds in your fitness level.  That will propel you further in your military career. 

How do you know when you are ready to take the test and run two miles in the allotted time?  Well, it’s simple.  Let’s break it down.

Once you have achieved a warm-up running at a pace of 1.5 mph for 2 minutes and 2.3 mph for 2 minutes, you are on your way to success. 

At this point, your workout should consist of running 3 mph for 90 seconds and then increasing that to 6.5 mph for 30 seconds.  Repeat this pattern 20 times.  You have done two miles.  Don’t forget your cooldown.  Recovery is going to be your friend, and it’s essential! 

With this program, you can get two miles done in about 18 minutes.  For the ladies, this is a passing score.  For men, you need to continue to improve your speed to get down to 16 or 17 minutes, depending on your age. 

Keep using this program to push yourself faster each workout.  Oh, and do some push-ups and sit-ups occasionally.  

Intermediate Running – 6 Miles or Bust

By now, you have mastered the two-mile run, and it’s time to up the ante. 

Two miles is now in your back pocket.  Let’s achieve a 10K.  If 6 miles or 6.2 miles to be exact seems daunting, think about how 2 miles felt daunting, and you got there.  It’s all about taking plenty of small steps that lead to a giant outcome. 

The one thing to keep in mind is the need to cross-train as you increase your distance.  This is the best way to minimize injuries as the miles increase. 

Depending on how many miles you run, bike or swim 2 miles to help decrease your joints’ impact. 

Check out the weekly running plan from military.com below to get an idea of what your week might look like when training for 6 miles.


Mondays will be all about running.  Get those miles shredded on the pavement or treadmill if that is your preference. 

Remember that you will want to venture outside for your runs eventually if you are signing up for a race.  Running on a treadmill is excellent for developing your speed, but the outdoors is where your race will most likely be held. 

You want to be able to acclimate to the environment before the race.  Let’s check out your Monday running plan.

  • Week 1 – 1-2 miles
  • Week 2 – 2-3 miles
  • Week 3 – 3 miles
  • Week 4 – 2 miles
  • Week 5 – 2-3 miles
  • Week 6 – 3 miles


Your cross-training day is here.  While Monday focused heavily on running, Tuesday brings miles on a bike or at the pool. 

There will be running on Tuesdays as well, and you will get to your coveted 6 miles as the weeks progress.  Stay sharp and focused.

  • Week 1 – Bike or Swim
  • Week 2 – Bike or Swim
  • Week 3 – Bike or Swim
  • Week 4 – Run 3 miles
  • Week 5 – Run 6 miles
  • Week 6 – Run 4 miles


Hump day!  Wednesdays are back to just running, but the surprise rest days come in the later weeks. 

Remember, you pushed hard on Monday and Tuesday, so giving your body time off is critical.  Yoga is an excellent idea for this day to stretch out those muscles for recovery.

  • Week 1 – 1-2 miles
  • Week 2 – 2-3 miles
  • Week 3 – 3 miles
  • Week 4 – Rest
  • Week 5 – Rest
  • Week 6 – 5 miles


Another cross-training day has arrived, with rest sprinkled in at week 6.  Gear up because the running is going to continue to be longer.

  • Week 1 – Bike or swim
  • Week 2 – Bike or swim
  • Week 3 – Run 3 miles
  • Week 4 – Run 4 miles
  • Week 5 – Run 4-5 miles
  • Week 6 – Rest


Back to running on Friday, but it’s almost the end of your week.  It’s time to crush it.

  • Week 1 – 1-2 miles
  • Week 2 – 2-3 miles
  • Week 3 – 3 miles
  • Week 4 – 4 miles
  • Week 5 – Rest
  • Week 6 – Rest


Your last day has arrived!  Sunday is for resting so let’s make Saturday count.  It will be an all-running day, but we’re increasing the milage.  Let’s get to work.  

  • Week 1 – 1-2 miles
  • Week 2 – 2-3 miles
  • Week 3 – 3 miles
  • Week 4 – 5miles
  • Week 5 – 6 miles
  • Week 6 – 10K

Bring on the Marathon

If running brings you nothing but joy and you remain injury-free, training for a half-marathon or a full marathon is on the horizon. 

Now more than ever, your cross-training is going to have a significant impact on your running.  Preventing injuries is critical and cross-training with biking or swimming will help. 

Calisthenics workouts with resistance bands are also a great way to increase upper and lower body strength and burn fat. 

Anything that you can do that increases your strength and endurance will promote better running times. 

Follow a plan similar to the one that military.com laid out above, but gradually increasing to longer runs is your recipe for a marathon. 

A great resource is to get the military insider newsletter for all of the scoop on discounts pay and the latest training advice.  

Final Advice

Who knew that running could be so much fun, especially when you start hitting your goal pace and cross-training to change up your workouts. 

If you ran 2 miles in 20 minutes, that is an incredible pace.  While it won’t necessarily have you passing military tests, it will enhance your overall fitness. 

With steady progress and more training, the military requirements are achievable. 

Get started on your running plan and report back to us.  We love to hear success stories!

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