More Is Not Better: How to Run Faster & Farther On Fewer Miles

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My running ‘career’ started when I first learned that the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) consisted of a 3 Mile run.

Up until that point I never ran 3 consecutive miles in my life and the first time I did, my results left a lot to be desired. Back before 9/11 people actually had to compete for an officer contract and my shitty 24:00 3-Mile time just wasn’t going to cut it.

So I did what just about everyone did (and still does) and I started running more. First, I started running a few miles a couple times per week and eventually built up to running, in the traditional long slow distance (LSD) manner, 4-5 days per week in an attempt to get my 3-Mile run time down as low as I could.

This makes perfect sense right?

If you want to be able to run long distances, you need to run long distances.

At least, that is what the vast majority of people believe…

Well, this worked well enough for me and off to OCS I went with a 21-ish minute 3-Mile time. Fast forward a number of years, following the same style of training (i.e. Traditional bodybuilding split in the gym and LSD runs throughout the week) and I managed to improve my run time by a whopping :30s.

Not very impressive.

“I’m just not a runner!” I told myself… These skinny guys who can run sub 18-minutes are just different than me, it comes natural, at least, I can still ruck better than them…

Does this sound familiar?

It seemed like no matter how much I ran I just couldn’t get much faster, in fact my fastest 3-Mile time (at this time) ended up being 20:32. Not super slow, but it wasn’t getting my the 100 points I wanted.

Fast forward once again to 2009 when I really went full bore into this thing called CrossFit, went to my first seminar, and really started learning about training.

During this time I basically stopped running, unless it came up in a workout, and with that I stopped worrying about my 3-mile time.

Shortly after this, I was introduced to the concept of POSE running, which is basically an analysis of the physics behind efficient running mechanics. I was also introduced to CrossFit Endurance, a radical (at the time) endurance training approach that professed that to be a successful long distance endurance athlete you could train with shorter, higher intensity runs, and still be able to go out a successfully complete longer distance runs.

I was skeptical, as this is basically the exact opposite of what everyone else was saying, but had nothing to lose so I decided to give this style of training a shot.

I had the opportunity to attend both the POSE Level 1 Trainer seminar as well as the CrossFit Endurance seminar in the beginning of 2010 so I started off with a solid grasp of the fundamentals of running mechanics as well as how to train with the different method.

Before I implemented anything I had learned during these seminars I decided to run 3-miles in order to set a baseline for myself. I finished in 21:37, definitely not my best time but not bad considering I basically stopped running.

I then set out with 6-weeks of skill and drill work (from the seminars) and implemented this into my normal warm ups prior to my regular workouts. The purpose of this was to improve my running mechanics, I was told this would make me “more efficient”.

After completing the 6-weeks of homework, I set out on a second 3-mile run. I finished in 20:23, my fastest time ever.

I was astounded…

Not only by my time but by how I felt after the run.

Usually, I was drained after an all out 3-mile effort. I’m sure part of this was the mental stress I put on myself from ‘competing’ and trying to improve my PFT score but it also took a toll physically.

However, after this latest run, I felt amazing. I guess this is what it feels like to run more efficiently (i.e. Not beating up the body because you’re working against yourself)

That is all it took to convince me that these guys were on to something and I may still have a shot at that elusive 300 PFT.

So I started to add 2 high-intensity interval sessions into my training.

(The CFE prescription is 1 short interval, 1 long interval, and a Tempo or Time Trial run each week… I didn’t have the time or the desire to do the tempo or time trial so I just skipped it…)

For the next six weeks I hit a short interval workout (i.e. 10x100m, :30s on, :30s off, 4x400m, etc) every Tuesday and a long interval workout (i.e. 3x800m, 2x1M, 7:00 on, 4:00 off, etc) every Thursday. I mixed up the distances and times as well as the recovery periods depending on how I felt and what I thought I should do at the time.

At the end of this 6-week period I decided to test out my 3-mile time again.

I ran a 19:21

Thoroughly convinced at this point that the method of training I was using was THE best way to train I kept going. Only focusing on my normal daily strength & conditioning workouts and the 2 interval sessions each week. PFT time was coming up soon and the majority of my Marines had stopped working out with me in the gym and went back to their same old pull up, sit up, 3-mile run routine… I, stubbornly, stuck with what I was doing.

The morning of the PFT I was feeling pretty good and knocked out my 20 Pull Ups and 100 crunches with no issue. With 200 out of 300 points under my belt before the final event I was confident that no matter what my run time was I was going to have a pretty good score.

We started the run and I took off feeling great, hit the turn around point (1.5M) and was starting to get into the groove (I always ran better during the second half of this event) as I started ticking off points in my mind I had passed on the way out.

Feeling good and with the finish line in sight, I really picked it up…

Not knowing where I was at time-wise I figured I’d do my best to leave it all on the course and really started getting after it.

Just over :45s later I crossed the finish line and was SPENT, huffing and puffing like I had just run a bunch of hard intervals…

My time?

17:55

I just completed my first 300 PFT.

Now, this may not sound like THAT big of an accomplishment but I was able to do it without giving up any of the other strength I had been working so hard on.

During this time I was deadlifting 2.5x my body weight, squatting just over 2x bodyweight, could do 26-28 strict pull-ups and had gym records for a number of traditional CrossFit benchmarks all while running a sub-18 3-miles.

Compared to just about everyone who was used to beating me in this run I was doing pretty good and I didn’t have to give up a ton of time and energy to running long distances to do it.

So why am I telling you this story?

Because this is something you can do too and I’d like to teach you how.

If you are currently burnt out from logging ton of long slow distance miles without the results you wanted, OR, if you are currently a great runner but would like to learn a new, more efficient (less time-consuming) method to train then you need to check out this Free 5-Part Mini-Course on becoming a faster runner without logging a ton of miles.

In this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals (backed by science) about how to improve your aerobic capacity (ability to run long and aerobic power (ability to run fast) without giving up your normal daily strength training.

You’ll also get a couple of sample workouts to try out so you can feel the difference.

If you’re interested you can sign up for this totally Free Course here

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69 thoughts on “More Is Not Better: How to Run Faster & Farther On Fewer Miles”

    1. I’m 42 and I feel like I’m towing a dump truck every time I do a 3 mile run. I’ll check out the course. Hope to improve my time.

  1. So while this is a very valid training method, it drives me crazy that people think it’s some radically new thing. Interval training, tempo runs and track work outs have been a part of proper running training forever. In the Lore of Running interval and high intensity workouts are discussed heavily and that book was published in 1985. Hell my high school cross country coach did it 3 times a week when I was in high school back in 2004 and it was far from revolutionary.

    1. Yep, interval training is definitely not new… Unfortunately, so many coaches prescribe waaaay too much volume. especially when an athlete needs to be much more than just a runner (i.e. still needs, strength, power, speed, etc.) Thanks for the comment

  2. of course this all comes out thirty years later.. my coach when i was a base brat in heidelberg was all about lsd. we ran our fing asses off. then i got to benning and came in second out my company, got sent to battalion and back then it was all about MILES.. now i find out ranger this and ranger that is all about actual track workouts and ergodynamics? kinesiology? lucky bastids.

  3. Good ideas of you’re looking for overall fitness. The pros I trained with all averaged between 110-150 miles a week. The caveat is they/we could cover more ground in less time. For example an easy 10mile run would be sub 1hr at altitude.

    If to get a chance, reach out to Farley Simon GySgt USMC Ret.

    He’s the only Marine to win the Marine Corps Marathon as far as I know, and he’s won it twice, 1983 & 2001.

    Get Some
    Semper Fi

      1. Not necessarily true. COL Liam Collins ran a sub-2:24:00 marathon and was in SF and then Delta Force before teaching at West Point and being on/in charge of the all army marathon team.

          1. Completely agree with PJ on the difference between training for marathon and PFT. Two different animals altogether. As somebody who ran Boston prior to joining USMC, was a 21 min 3 miler when I hit OCS, and finally got my 300 with 17:55 the only similarity is that they both require hard work and dedication. Great advice PJ interval training and Semper Fi!

  4. I am 27 years old, I am shipping out to Army Basic training in May. My MOS is infantry and I want to try out for rangers after OSUT, I have been working on my running I have got it to where I can run 2 miles in 14.45 seconds that’s like a 65 on PT score, I wanna be able to run 2 miles in 13 minutes or less.

  5. I’ve always said “I love running and pace isn’t that important”, but if I’m really honest with myself, I always end a 5k wishing I could collect one of those medals……

  6. Do you think this can be used to accomplish a Marathon?
    My best half is 2:09 which is lumbering and slow. Have not run in a while.

  7. I will be 49 in less than 5 months. I have injured myself on 3 occasions over the last 3 months. Nothing permanent but painful and causing me to stop training while I heal. The first injury was directly related to running. I will definitely try this routine.

  8. Totally free? I’ve been in the Army too long to believe that. However, nothing sacrificed, nothing gained.

    1. Yep, the course is free but you will hear about programs that I offer as well (Which you don’t have to worry about if it’s not interesting to you!).

  9. Sign me up need to start running better again without losing strength everytime i cut weight i am able to run better on my 2mile and 4mile but had lost tremendous strength..

  10. I’ve ran (2) 300 PFTs and was 1 of 2 Marines in my unit with a perfect PFT and CFT both those years(other badass was some gunny). I’ll vouch for the training here I mean I didn’t call it “crossfit” at the time but It was cross-training(same difference) 2-3 days in the gym and 3 on the track but my track days would always be broken up and split with any and every bodyweight movement (pull-ups,push-ups, leg raises, etc). Always focusing on breathing and active rest (getting your breath back while your body is still working). Worked for me then and doing more of it now as OCR season approaches. Cheers.

  11. I’m headed to USMC OCS in May ’16 and started crossfit a couple months ago. In the first month of crossfit – without otherwise running – my PFT dropped a MINUTE! and has since dropped more. I’m excited to see what kind of emails come from you. Thanks for the article.

  12. Cody Bergsrud

    I’ve had trouble running my two mile since I joined the army a year and a half ago. If I do pass, its barely. I hope this gives me the results I need.

  13. So is this similar to 30/60’s and 60/120’s? Where you sprint for 30 secs and walk for 60 or sprint for 60 and walk for 120?

  14. Pj ,

    Looking good my man. My old ass is still and pushing 40. Glad to see you rocking the cross fit man. I want to get back to 300 status before I retire . Look forward to getting on with your program.

    Cartrett

  15. I can always tell I’m working against myself when I run; looking forward to learning new/proper techniques.

  16. I am not usually a sub 18 guy but usually around 18. I had a trainer teach me the quick basics to pose and i dont like it. If anything i have always over strided some but pose requires more core muscles and i higher cadence which strains my achiles, calves, and corr. I usually feel more tired but in new places. What it has done is made me get a feel for the inefficiency of overstriding and finding a more balanced comprimise. Intervals have always been a staple. Personnaly, i like to sandwich run. If im training for a 5k i will do 2 4 mile runs and 1 to 2 2 mile runs of intervals or the fastest pace i can push through a week.

    1. Yep, that extra ‘strain’ is your body learning (and conditioning itself) to moving correctly. POSE isn’t a ‘technique’ you can use, it is the observation of correct, efficient movement.

  17. I am wondering if this work if you have shin splints or stress fractures. I used to be an excellent runner. Upon going through basic I lost the arch in my feet. Running isn’t enjoyable like it used to be and I avoid it if I can. I’ve never failed a PT test, but dream of getting that 300. But running is painful…

  18. I would really like to learn those work outs, because I have been running long distance but my time never goes up..

  19. Years ago, when I was training for a marathon I stumbled across something called fartleks. It is Swedish (I think) for speed play. It uses the same principals and incorporates hill work into the running program. It had never occurred to me to do this exclusively. I think I enjoy the distance and not having to count, but more importantly I LOVE pancakes and you can’t eat them without putting in the miles. I’m just coming off an injury that prevents me from doing anything but walk I will certainly give this program a shot before I take my next full pt test.

  20. I’m a highschool junior looking to go for a Marine Option NROTC Scholarship this fall. I’m a football player and while I’m able to ace the pullups and crunches I really struggle with the run (28 minutes). How would you recommend I drop that to a more competitive time by this fall? A short and long interval run every week? What would you recommend I do?

  21. I am willling to try anything at this point. Early in my career it was much easier but as you say I have never been a “runner” but I could stay in the low 20:00’s with some work, but now after 2 knee surgeries and what feels like my body falling apart at the ripe age of 32 I find it much harder to even pass. I now struggle to run a 27:00. the training runs just leave me sore and feeling like shit, so that being said I will gladly try this to see if it helps.

  22. Hey PJ,
    I am not in the Marines, but I am the proud daughter of one. I am currently training for my 1st 10 miler and I will start training next year for my 1st NYC Marathon. I am a member of Team RWB and I train and run races with them. They blow me away with their runs. I am the slowest by far. I will be 40 in 2 months and I just started running seriously again. This year. My 3 mile is about 35 minutes. I know that is ridiculously slow to you, but I am pretty proud of that. I want to be able to get that down to 30 minutes soon and eventually under 30. I’d also like to finish the marathon next year before they kick me off the course. Ha! Hope you can help me.

    1. Your time now doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is that you’re training and getting better!

      Keep it up and let me know if you need help with anything!

  23. Dylan Zimmerman

    I’m going to have to implement this into a daily after work, workout. If it worked for you, it’ll work for all of us, thanks for the info !

    1. Looks like a technical problem, I’ll figure out what’s going on but it looks like it still accepted your info so let me know if you do or don’t get the first email (should come right away)!

    1. Yea, you should be good to go even though you got that Error notice, but if you didn’t, just refresh the page and hit that link again and you’ll redirect to a different page to sign up! Sorry!

  24. Hey, I’m curious because I’ve been researching a lot on pose running technique and I’ve read Brian Mackenzie’s books. There isn’t that much scientific evidence to support over a period of time that pose is better for injuries and more efficient.

    Can you give me you personal insight on how your body feels as opposed to how you used to run? Also, do you think it prevents injuries more than heel strike running form?

    I’ve been running with pose technique and I will say I feel my body feels better but I’m just unsure about the whole thing because of lack of people who are successfully doing it till today. Feel free to email me please. Really looking for someone who has gone through the training with some insight

    1. Hey Branson!

      By “scientific evidence” do you mean published peer-reviewed studies?

      If so, you’re right, there probably aren’t very many (if any) of those out there. But the good news is that there are hundreds of coaches out there who have been teaching POSE as a way to run more efficiently to thousands of athletes and they are all improving! I’ve done it myself and I’ve helped thousands of others do it too, so I’m not too worried about this being reproduced in a lab (And that’s coming for a guy with an M.S. in Human Movement!).

      I know it prevents injuries when compared to traditional heel striking. If you’d like to test it yourself, kick your shoes off and run down the street barefoot doing your best to maintain POSE.

      Then do it again and make sure your heel is slamming into the ground during every step.

      Then lemme know which one hurt more! 🙂

      You’re saying that you’re doing it and your “body feels better” but still have apprehensions?

      What are you unsure about?

  25. I’ve been suffering from Piriformis Syndrome(runners butt).

    Lately, I’ve been feeing better, but haven’t run more then 2 miles. Would such a program work? I’m 46 and hoping to do a 10k this year.

    1. Indeed it would.

      Any program that focuses on moving better, before adding intensity & volume, is going to be a better fit for someone like you (and everyone else). I would also suggest you start (if you haven’t already) a good basic strength program.

  26. Austin Bartlett

    I am wanting to join the army amd need to drop weight and get my running time down i would like to see what this can do for me

  27. Late to the party, but what an inspiring article. Man I wish we had the internet when I was in. I did my 8 in the early 90’s and never could figure out how to get under 19:00 minutes. I did the LSD like everyone else. It was always so odd how I found that the 20 pull ups and 80 sit ups (before crunches) was so easy, but the run just seamed unattainable. I still putter around on the trails and do a 3 miler a few weekends a month. It seems so much shorter than when I was 18, but I sure in the hell am not running 19:00 anymore. More like 28:00. I’ll download your e-book and train up on it. I’d be happy to get down to 21:00.

    1. It’s never too late to get back into it! I’ve got my 72-year-old Dad back in the gym (For basically the first time since Viet Nam) cranking out pull-ups, pushing the sled, and getting better every day!

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