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Running Distance vs. Running a Timed Run Fitness Test

Stew smith

Running Distance vs. Running a
Timed Run Fitness Test

Sometimes we think we are in shape because a “test looks easy” or “you were in shape in high school”, but many people fail to prepare for a fitness test and wind up realizing they need to change their training AND thinking when it comes to fitness testing.  Check out this email:

Stew – I run all the time 4-5 days a week and usually get 25-30 miles a week, so I have a runner’s body.  I just tried out for the FBI fitness test for Special Agents and thought that the calisthenics and the run would be a joke.  Well, I was wrong.  I almost failed the 300m and the 1.5 mile runs and did fail the sit-ups.  What gives?  I thought I was in shape?

You know I get this often from people in sports – athletic shape also.  A fitness test on paper IS ALWAYS going to "look easy".  Training for a fitness test is just a different way to train. Though training for a fitness test is not going to make you a better FBI agent, it is the tool they use to allow you in the door.

Any PT Test is not any harder than other workouts you are used to doing - just different. In fact, the time you spend on running 25-30 miles a week can be utilized to run less BUT faster and learn a new mile pace.  Mixing in calisthenics is obviously the next step.  All in all - it should not be an addition to the time you already devote to training. But SPECIFICS matter. 

Basically to get better at taking fitness test, you need to practice taking fitness tests. Otherwise, you set yourself up for failure as there are strategies you can learn such as pacing, exerting on the UP repetition, building up speed every 100m of a 300m run, and building a certain amount of muscle memory to pace out the situps as well. 

The fundamentals of taking a fitness test are the following:

1-      Add speed / pace workouts to your running so you are prepared for a timed run at a faster pace than a jog.  Good goals for men and women are 7-8 minute mile pace respectively. If you can get 6-7 min mile pace - even better especially when the process is highly competitive - better is recommended.

2-      Prepare muscles by warming up prior to pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups type exercises. A run 25m jogs, dynamic stretches, and a 1-5 pyramid is a good warmup:

Run 25m, 1 pushup, Run 25m 2 pushups, run 25m 3 pushups...keep going up until warm and mix in some dynamic stretches for both arms and legs during the 25m sections. 

3-      Most importantly, prior to running / after calisthenics, get the blood back to your legs by warming up the legs by jogging, stretching upper body and legs. (transition training)

4-      Practice, practice, practice – you should take the test once a week (at the least once every 2 weeks) to mark progress and see where you need to focus your next week workouts. This will also help you with the anxiety of the test as you can honestly tell yourself, "this is just another workout day."

Here is something to consider. 

Runner’s Body – You have a great foundation of distance but if you have not pushed your limits of speed just jogging several miles a week is not going to prepare you for timed runs where 6-7 minute mile paces are likely the competitive zone.  Long Slow Distance running is A way to build a cardio base, but it really just gets you good at running slowly.

Add speed work like this:

Repeat 6-10 times
Run 400m at GOAL pace (not a sprint)
rest 1 minute - walk

*goal pace = if you are trying to run a 10:30 1.5 mile run, that is a 7 min mile pace. At 400m that pace is a 1:45 each lap (no faster / no slower). 

If that is easy, try it with 800m at goal pace.

Repeat 3-5 times
Run 800m at goal mile pace
- rest 2 minutes walk

The goal here is to learn the pace you need for the run event.  After you can do quarter miles, build up to half miles for 3-4 sets, and then miles for 2-3 sets.  The next thing you know, you are hitting sub 6-7 minute mile pace no problem.  The GOAL pace is to teach you the pace to train and to get comfortable at that pace for whatever distance you are being tested. Try not to waste any running miles on running slowly for this PT Test Training Cycle. 

See programs for running, calisthenics and other specifics to the PT test and follow on training you need to prepare: 

Military Programming

and many more...

Police and Fire Fighter Programming

and many more...

Your History With Training for PT Tests

Football Players – Many football players and other athletes think 1.5 – 2 miles runs are long distance runs.  They definitely do not have "runner's bodies". But, they can get faster as they practice running, non-impact cardio, and lose some weight (if needed). This is an adjustment as well.  Not only do you need a foundation of some distance running, but you need to slow down your 100m running pace to a slower pace suitable for standard timed runs. The same workout above works well but you typically have to slow down to reach 1:45 quarter mile runs for a 7 minute mile pace.  This is easy at first, but after 6- 8 sets of this it will challenge most of this body type.  Also building up to 3-5 miles runs over a few months is going to be helpful to transition from football / power athlete to military endurance tactical athlete.  

But for both groups, here is a great running plan that has helped many in the past to prepare for 1.5 -2 mile run tests:  6 Week Running Plan and a 20 Miles a Week With Speed Focus.

Beginners to Running (related article)

For those of you who are just beginning to run after a long period of time of no activity due to injury or lack of motivation, here is where you need to start:

Beginner Running Chart for people seeking to start an exercise plan and/or need to lose 20+ lbs:   (always start run workout with a quick 5:00 walk / light leg stretch).  I highly recommend the RUN / WALK method as you are learning to run.

IMPORTANT – Get GOOD running shoes, not some old shoes you find in the back of your closet.  Check out – they are a great shoes store (great prices) but you will learn about good running shoes.

 Each Run Workout is to be done THREE times a week

Week 1

Walk 20-30 minutes / stretching entire body daily  (monitor weight loss*)

Week 2

Run 1:00 / Walk 1-2:00 for 20-30 minutes

Week 3

Run 1:00 / Walk 1:00 for 30 minutes (listen body as injuries occur this week**) Replace with 100% biking is an option

Week 4

3 Sets of Run 1:30 / Walk 1:30 | 3 Sets of Run 2:00 / Walk 1:00

Week 5

3 Sets of Run 2:30 / Walk 1:00 | 3 Sets of Run 2:00 / Walk 30 seconds

Week 6

4 Sets of Run 3:00 / Walk 1:30

Week 7

Run 1 mile / try non-stop / walk 1 mile fast

Week 8

Run / walk combo 2.5 miles  (from weeks 8-10 – try to run as much as you can)

Week 9

Run / walk combo 2.75 miles


Run / walk combo 3 miles

  • ** Typically injuries occur during running programs the 3rd week IF too aggressive with initial training

I hope this helps you with your running fitness testing but also help you learn how to build up to running longer distances, faster timed runs, and most of all just get healthier.

Mix It Up!

Types of Running - Consider making the miles above a combination of steady paced running, goal mile pace running, intervals, and mixing in some sprints too. See Classic Week of Running Options

Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates - Get on a Program 


Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book

The Pipeline of Training Options: 


It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. This is ideal for people who have come from an endurance athlete background.  Athletes like swimmers and runners will also require some strength training as you will be exposed to challenges under logs and boats during the first phase and many miles of rucking 50+ lbs of backpacks and gear in 2nd and 3rd phases of BUDS.  Do not skip lifting in your year of training prep.  However, if you are coming from a powerlifting / football background, supplementing a few lifts into your endurance / muscle stamina focus plan is something you may enjoy especially if training for a year or more during your prep phase. 

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Other EBOOKS (Military, Police, Fire Fighter, Special Ops, General Fitness– Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program.  So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).


Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as 
personalized training programs member's only program and the new : 

Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

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