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…
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
If you want to learn how you can improve your run times without losing your strength gains, check out this article: Is it Possible to be Strong AND Fast?
If running injuries are holding you back, you’re not alone… Two of the most common injuries people run into (pun not intended) when they start running more are shin splints & plantar fasciitis. Hit those links to learn more about each one and what you can do to prevent them!
And last, if you aren’t training for a specific event like I was above but just want to run more for general health, fitness, or fat loss then check out this show down between traditional “cardio” and high-intensity intervals!