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Training Athletes to Ace the Two-Mile Run

Helping men and women prepare for the military physical fitness test provides an opportunity for fitness centers. We've got some tips to get you started.

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Twice a year all military personnel are put to the test - the physical fitness test that is. And while it is assumed that most will be conditioned enough to meet the minimum requirements, some won't and others will want to go beyond the minimum to help them advance, enter special forces and more. Helping these men and women improve their performance provides challenges and opportunities for military fitness centers, from leading seminars to organizing classes that target the needs of those looking to shed a few pounds or shave a few seconds off their run time.

One of the biggest challenges for many is improving their time on the two-mile run portion of the fitness test. While running seems like a fairly easy thing to improve upon, there is more to it than hitting the road.

"Many people make the mistake of thinking that to improve running all you need to do is run. And while you do need to run, you need to do more," says Rick Coe, owner of Fitness Together of Bethesda, Md., and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and former Army officer. "There is a total conditioning piece that is needed to improve performance on the two-mile run and too many people miss the full picture."

While it seems a bit unrelated on first glance, strength training is a key component of improving running time. But it takes more than just picking up some weights or hopping on a selectorized machine to get the right results to help move a bit faster.

"It takes smart programming to help strengthen and build endurance to help improve running time in an event like the two-mile run, which is neither a sprint nor a long-distance run," adds Coe. "High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to build the conditioning needed as long as it is done safely and not taken to extremes."

The growing popularity of H.I.I.T. among military members and civilians alike creates a great opportunity for fitness centers to offer themed classes that will attract populations looking to achieve different goals whether it's from dropping 10 pounds for the beach or passing the fitness test.

Of course, running is an important thing to do if one is looking to improve time on the two-mile run test, if done correctly.

"Good form translates to skill in running. The more skill you have in anything, the better you are, the fewer injuries you have and the more fun you have. Running is no different," says Ken Rickerman, head coach at California-based 5 Speed Running, who adds that it may be detrimental to only focus just on the end result. "[Trainees] focus too much on the goal and not on the process of improving their overall running fitness. You can't force your body to improve, you can only put a proper level of stress on it then give it appropriate rest and it will respond accordingly."

The combination of cardio, endurance and strength needed to pass the two-mile run portion of the physical fitness test is everything a good fitness center is about and it opens up a world of programming possibilities for members looking to ace the fitness test or just improve their overall conditioning in a fun and functional way.

Interested in more military-specific content? Sign up for AB Military News, our weekly newsletter with content specifically for military sports, recreation and fitness professionals.

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