Basic Training

I’m leaving for basic training on May 16th. If I don’t want to drop dead of a heart attack during PT (physical training) I need to get my ass in gear, now! I’ve already got my strength training down, and now it’s time to focus on cardio. Can some one point me in the right direction? My goal is to run 2 miles in 12 min. T-mag is a great resource for lifting, but not cardio any help would be greatly appreciated.

I think the best way to improve at running is to run. Just a wild theory I have.

Go run, then run with a gun, then run with a gun and a backpack full of sand on your back, then go jump in the water with all that shit on. Then go do a bunch of pushups, pullups, other calistenics. Do these until you throw up. Go take a shower then roll in the grass or sand naked, then put on your uniform. (they do this) then go run. It ain’t rocket science. Long distance runs aren’t made for big guys so you can cut down on the strength training.

 I had to do the same thing to become a professional firefighter. I'm  not naturally a good runner (stocky build) but I simply went out and ran 2 miles as fast as I could, three times a week. It's nothing fancy but it works. I did it for about a month and a half before hand (about 18 runs) and finished just  under 11 minutes. I know some runners will say you need to run more often and run a little longer distance .(2.5 -3 miles)Personally I believe if you want to get faster at running 2 mile distances, go out and run 2 miles.As far as frequency, I feel three times per week allows you to keep all three runs at max. intensity without overtraining at all. However it may not be enough to prepare you for the rigerous nature of basic training. Personally I might add in longer distance, low intensity runs 3 times a week in between 2 mile days. I would also consider adding some bodyweight type exercises into your strength training to help with basic training. Doing chins, pushups, dips should help . There are lots of great articles in past issues of t-mag by guys like Coach Davies,Poliquin, Pavel(russian dude guy) and even one on combat training by a guy named Matt Furey (a kickass Mixed martial arts/grappling guy). There are some other good articles by people I just can't think of right now, but look at articles that focus on sports performance. Good luck

Chris, I thank you for your wonderful insights. But practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. I mean you say the best way to get better at running is to run, but isn’t that like saying the best way to build our biceps is to curl weight. This mentions nothing about tempo, reps/set scheme, rest…ect. I’m looking for more of the specifics on how to increase my cardiac capacity for the challenge up ahead. I could run all day, whenever I can but I doubt that would help me reach my goal???

Long distance, low intensity running is not going to help very much. Basically you need to break the run up into segments and run those segments in the time alotted. 12 minutes for 2 miles is 1/6 a mile per minute. Go out and do 12 intervals where you run 1/6 of a mile in 1 minute or less. Try to rest as little no more than 1-2 minutes between intervals. Eventually, once you can run these 12 intervals at less than 1 minute each, you need to combine the intervals. Start with 1/3 mile in 2 minutes and then 10 1/6s for 1 minute each. Then 2 1/3s for 2 minutes and 8 1/6s for 1 minute and so on and so on. You’ll work up to 6 two minute intervals, then 4 three minute intervals, then 3 four minute intervals, 2 six minute intervals and eventually you’ll run 2 miles in 12 minutes. Make a time line and chart how much time you have using as slow an interval progression as you can, but aiming to run the 12 minute 2 miler at least 3-4 weeks before you have to test. You have plenty of time. Good luck and please ask for clarification if needed.

Magnus pretty well said it. Though I have a couple questions and a few additions. Army basic training I assume (or Marine bootcamp)? officer or enlisted? What kind of shape are you in now. i.e. how fast do you run a mile in? 3 miles in?
Be careful of shin splints they can really slow down your progress. If you haven’t already been running for a while start small (1-2 miles) and do it frequently.
Also, “humping” might be more of a concern to you than you realize. Do some brisk walks, preferably through hills, with a pack on your back of 20-30 lbs. Try to get your feet conditioned to being on them alot. If you have access to pure lanolin, I’ve never bought it but I’m guessing your could find it at an online or local pharmacy. Start rubbing it into your feet before going to bed and wear socks while you sleep to keep it on your feet and off the sheets. This might sound crazy and your feet will be moist but it will toughen up your skin tremendously and help prevent blisters from all the humping and running you have to look forward to. Start using it about a month out from your departure date.

Actually, the best way to get big biceps is to curl weight, if you’ve never curled weight before. The details aren’t that important in the beginning. Likewise with running. Your post made it sound like you’ve done very little, if any, running. So the best way to improving running would be to simply start running. Have you went out and timed a two mile run yet? Hey, maybe you can already do it.

Sure, there are all kind of plans you could follow, but step one (and the most important step) would be to just go run two miles, just like the most important step for a non-bodybuilder in getting big arms would be to start weight training. No need to get complex yet. And that’s what I meant in my previous post.

Now, there are some diet and supplement tips that could help you out, but I’m guessing you won’t have control over your diet all that much (i.e. you have to eat what they serve) and won’t be able to take supplements to boot camp. Correct?

Good luck.

Thank you all for your responses, keep 'em coming.

I agree with some of the others. You don’t necessarily increase your cardio fitness by jogging long distances. Rather use intensity just like in strength training. Use long interval sprints (wind sprints). Sprint 1/4 mile. Rest for a few minutes then repeat over and over till you puke. Do this every day. Next week, sprint 1/2 mile over and over. Next week, sprint 3/4 mile over and over. Next week do miles, etc,etc. Then you can mix it up. Sprint 1/4, rest briefly, then 1/2,etc,etc. Then mix it up backwards - sprint 1 mile then 3/4, then 1/2 etc. These type WO’s will give you the intensity to run 2 miles fast. If you train by jogging 10 miles every day instead, you’ll just be able to do that - jog long distances without getting to tired but it won’t do much for running shorter distances very fast without pooping out. Good Luck.

HEB, I like everything you wrote except for the “everday” part. 3-4 workouts like you mentioned and 2 long, SLOW distance runs for recovery purposes per week will actually be better. You can’t lift 6 days per week at maximum intensity, and you have to follow the same rule with running.

Chris, I’m not new to running, due to my highschool track experience but I have been slacking off lately. Unfortunatly, no I cannot bring supplements with me and the food selection is limited, yet I think I can manage with injesting the best of the crap they serve. Thank you all for your assistance.

THe 12 intervals of 1/6 mile at 1 minute or less is a good idea if you have some time before your test (say 3 months or so), but I’d add a couple more intervals to the workout to make sure you can keep your pace when you’re tired. The tests I’d run would be 2-1/4 miles instead of just 2 miles. You want to make sure that the distance isn’t a problem first, then make sure you can run it at pace. As for finding lanolin, you can find it at virtually any drug store under the name Lansinoh, marketed as an aid for breastfeeding women.

As a former soldier, Airborne, Air Assualt, Ranger and a Green hat that only kept one ear warm, I would like to offer the follwoing advise.

  1. For your strength training, try programs like the Fat Melt Down alternated with Bill Stars “Only the Strong Survive”.
  2. Work on your weight to strenght ratios. You not only have to haul yourself around, but a rifle and ruck sack. Get a ruck at an Army Navy store and start walking every where you can with it. Put a sand bag in it and sloww increase the weight each week.
  3. Yes, Yes, YES…Condition your feet. They must survive both running and Road Marching. Each activity affects the feet differently.
  4. Work on Push-ups and sit-ups to time. You must do so many in two minutes. Also work on your Pull-ups.
  5. Check out the TRADOC website for Physical Training Information. Watch Combat Missions to see what is excepted of the best (although I was a bit disappointed by the tactics used in destroying the tank [can we say supporting team and assualt team]).
  6. Check out basic training on the Army’s website.
    Best of luck and when the going gets tough remember why you are there.

I noticed you said “Basic Training”. Are you going into the Air force? If you are don’t worry, they will start you out slow. Almost to slow. I was in Basic Training five years ago today and I remember running about a mile for the first week and they built us up to four by the end of the sixth week. If you would still like to run a 12 min two mile before you go, you would do best by running two to four miles a day every other day or so at a pretty good pace. You might want to use a half a mile to work on speed every once in a while. Since you are going for that kind of distance I don’t really think it will help to break it up to much. I know a little bit about this because I use to run middle distance in high school(two minute half mile @ 175lbs.) I also was the second fastest in my Flight running a 10:30 for the two mile @ 185lbs.