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How can I significantly improve my time for a 3-mile run in 4 months?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 08, 2012 at 8:24 PM

I am applying to the Marine Corps and need to significantly improve my 3-mile run time from 28:30 to 21 minutes (7 minute miles). I have been doing CrossFit for 1 year and have become significantly stronger. I eat strictly Paleo and as of the end of October 2012 I have added some daily running drills in addition to my usual 5-6x a week CrossFit routine. I started running a few years ago and have done a couple of 5ks, 1 10k and a mini triathalon. I guess I should say that I jog more than run.

I am using this 5k plan to improve my time but don't know if it's enough.

Also, I am 5'8" femal and approximately 170 pounds. I need to be at least 164 pounds to apply to the USMC. Due to this, I also do need to lose some weight... and though I have been eating paleo for several months, my weight has been stubborn.

Does anyone have other suggestions in diet/fitness routine/mental exercises? I am thinking of trying leangains intermittent fasting with BCAA and protein powder. As far as running, sometimes I have trouble motivating/pushing myself to run faster. Should I hire a running coach?

Thanks!

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on February 06, 2013
at 04:23 PM

I'm not a Marine (although my husband is and he's been doing CrossFit for 3 years). However, I just wanted to say that truly well-rounded CrossFit training does help with running time. Without doing any running outside of CrossFit, I took my 5k time from 31 minutes to 26:28. By doing sprints and intervals in class, several of my friends have also improved their running. That said, I freely and gladly agree that intervals are the best way to improve your speed. I just don't think CrossFit is irrelevant if it helps you work pull-ups, sit-ups, and running.

Aa5154ef908fc4a5c255c552f32e334e

(256)

on November 10, 2012
at 12:53 AM

Crossfit has zero relation for what you need to focus on to be prepared for recruit training. Once you are in the Fleet, then yes it does have some merit. I stated it has zero application because you are trying to prepare for recruit training, which is completely different than what you will be doing once you graduate. Secondly, you stated your primary goals were to decrease your run time and lose weight. Crossfit will not help your run time at all and will hinder your progressby diverting energy you could use for training to run faster. You can't do both effecttively at the same time.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on November 09, 2012
at 10:49 PM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/9546330/Beetroot-juice-may-help-beet-your-best.html

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:53 PM

Ah yes, I am trying to find some good hills to run on!

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Cool! I've never heard of fartleks. I looked it up on Wiki but are there any specific resources you recommend?

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:50 PM

Thanks for your input! Where'd you find out about the beetroot juice? I've never heard of it. Do they have that at like a Whole Foods?

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:47 PM

Thanks for your insight. Why does CF not have any relation to what you do in the Marines? I've talked to a few Marines (vets and recruiters) who have told me that it directly applies to USMC drills. I've just never heard so many people say to drop CrossFit.

Aa5154ef908fc4a5c255c552f32e334e

(256)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Just keeping it real! No need to sugar coat it..... Either you can hack it or you can't Not just anyone can handle the physical and mental strain it takes to EARN the title of MARINE.....

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:17 AM

damn, that's a reality check for us namby pamby non-marines +1. you're in the army now. i feel buggerred just reading it....anyone for skinny latte or a moccaccino

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:15 AM

damn, that's a reality check for us namby pamby non-marines +1. you're in the army now. anyone for skinny latte or a moccaccino

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on November 09, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Intervals. That's that. Thread over.

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10 Answers

3
Aa5154ef908fc4a5c255c552f32e334e

on November 09, 2012
at 01:29 AM

OK, my turn.... I am a personal trainer, marathon runner, and a United States Marine Corps Veteran. Having been there, done that (got the shirt to prove it, lol!!!), I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question.

First, STOP DOING CROSSFIT!!!! Yes it is good for overall fitness, but it has ZERO application to what the Marine Corps needs from you. Second, get your diet under control and start learning to seriously restrict calories. Think skipping meals and feeling serious hunger until you get used to doing without food for extended periods at random intervals.... You may actually go days at a time with only a few bites of food a day if that (speaking from experience.)Third, start running super early in the morning without any food (fasted training) as you will not be ever running in the Corps with food in your belly. All your training runs in boot camp will be on an empty stomach. Lastly, start alternating between Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs and short interval runs. LSD runs should be at least 5 miles at a slow (about 10 or 11 minute pace) to build your cardio endurance. Short interval runs should be 2 miles alternating between full on 100% effort for as long as possible and a slow (50% effort) recovery phase lasting no more than half the time of the full on effort. An example of a good interval run would be a half mile jog at an easy pace for warm up, followed by a 1 mile alternation between full on effort and recovery, ending with a half mile easy jog to cool down. Do these on a rotation that has you doing LSD on one day, upper body resistance the next, Interval training the next, LSD, Upper body, Intervals, and then rest (6 on 1 off). You will do some form of physical training 6 days in a row during recruit training followed by only one day of rest. Make sure your upper body routine includes pull ups and that you get in your "crunches"/sit ups. Also, overhead military presses ans sprints carrying 70 pound ammo cans will also come in handy.....

As for Leangains, IF, running coach; No, No, and Maybe. Leangains is a recipe for total failure for recruit training, as you will have zero control; over meal timing in recruit training. IF as I stated earlier (random starvation) is good, but a structured eating window will work against you so do not bother. Finally, a running coach will only be of help if you hire one that will insult, harass, and belittle your lazy ass to push harder.... Blunt, cold and cruel...... Get used to it if you think you want to be a Marine.....

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:47 PM

Thanks for your insight. Why does CF not have any relation to what you do in the Marines? I've talked to a few Marines (vets and recruiters) who have told me that it directly applies to USMC drills. I've just never heard so many people say to drop CrossFit.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:15 AM

damn, that's a reality check for us namby pamby non-marines +1. you're in the army now. anyone for skinny latte or a moccaccino

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:17 AM

damn, that's a reality check for us namby pamby non-marines +1. you're in the army now. i feel buggerred just reading it....anyone for skinny latte or a moccaccino

Aa5154ef908fc4a5c255c552f32e334e

(256)

on November 09, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Just keeping it real! No need to sugar coat it..... Either you can hack it or you can't Not just anyone can handle the physical and mental strain it takes to EARN the title of MARINE.....

Aa5154ef908fc4a5c255c552f32e334e

(256)

on November 10, 2012
at 12:53 AM

Crossfit has zero relation for what you need to focus on to be prepared for recruit training. Once you are in the Fleet, then yes it does have some merit. I stated it has zero application because you are trying to prepare for recruit training, which is completely different than what you will be doing once you graduate. Secondly, you stated your primary goals were to decrease your run time and lose weight. Crossfit will not help your run time at all and will hinder your progressby diverting energy you could use for training to run faster. You can't do both effecttively at the same time.

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on February 06, 2013
at 04:23 PM

I'm not a Marine (although my husband is and he's been doing CrossFit for 3 years). However, I just wanted to say that truly well-rounded CrossFit training does help with running time. Without doing any running outside of CrossFit, I took my 5k time from 31 minutes to 26:28. By doing sprints and intervals in class, several of my friends have also improved their running. That said, I freely and gladly agree that intervals are the best way to improve your speed. I just don't think CrossFit is irrelevant if it helps you work pull-ups, sit-ups, and running.

3
59fa7cd87fb9d669adf21e5cf3e7ada5

on November 08, 2012
at 10:00 PM

You train to run faster by running faster, the most common approach is to do intervals. I usually jog a good 12 minutes or so to warm up then I run at a pace that gets me into oxygen debt, run slower to recover, faster again, etc.

Lean Gains BCAA Crossfit isn't going to do jack shit for you in terms of improving your time in the 3 mile run, so if you serious about running faster you have to make running a priority.

You train for running by running, everything else is bullshit.

Da3d4a6835c0f5256b2ef829b3ba3393

on November 09, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Intervals. That's that. Thread over.

2
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2012
at 12:50 AM

I agree with others that say practice running faster & faster short sprints.
Teach you body to run faster, you will be working different/new muscles.
& there's probably a 'muscle memory' component to this as well, so persevere with it.

I use to jog a bit, given that up years back now, then i started doing hiit sprints.
I have access to a gym, so i do my sprinting on a treadmill (at 1% gradient just to make it a bit closer to road running).
Looking back on it now, initially 14km/h seemed like running & 16km/h was fast. Having gradually increased my speed over time as my form (technique) & supporting muscles improved, i can now sprint at the max speed of the treadmill i'm using (which is 25km/h).

The benefit of all this is that slower running becomes a breeze, 14km/h no longer seems like running to me now, more of a fast walk.

2
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on November 08, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Tim Noakes was interviewed by Jimmy Moore a while back. Noakes made the observation that the only thing that correlated with speed was speed. Basically, he was doing research and expecting, like everyone else to see a correlation between VO2 max and elite level running times, but that didn't happen. It always came down to how fast the person could run period. Art De Vany has made similar comments, but I can't track down the link right now.

Anyway, based on what these guys have said, your primary training should be running scary fast sprints downhill until your brain tweaks to the reality that you can, in fact, run that fast. You probably want to do this every other day or something so that you have enough rest.

And speaking of rest, why do Crossfit trainers allow people to workout 5-6x times a week? Do they get kickbacks from the physicians who fix your injuries? You will NOT acheive your goal as long as you train too much. Since this is a big deal for you, ditch the Crossfit and focus on this.

Anyway, most of the time should be spent getting faster, but as you get closer to the race you'll want to start running race length courses. Again, I suspect actually giving yourself enough recovery time will be your largest issue.

IF seems to give women trouble, and you need to have everything else perfect before trying it. It is a very big gamble for you to do IF on top of everything else

0
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on November 09, 2012
at 10:57 AM

I've knocked 5 minutes of my 5k time by upping my weekly mileage to 25 miles a week. Alberto Salazar recommends that you don't even think about speed until you are comfortably running more than 20 miles a week.

Most of my runs are long and easy. I race a 5k every Saturday morning as my speed work, but most of it is just about having great aerobic fitness. The good news is that you have lots of room for improvement - I can run sub 28min at 250lbs.

Reducing your bodyweight also pays huge dividends.

Might be just placebo, but I was drinking beetroot juice during the period when I knocked 3 minutes off my PB in two weeks.

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:50 PM

Thanks for your input! Where'd you find out about the beetroot juice? I've never heard of it. Do they have that at like a Whole Foods?

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on November 09, 2012
at 10:49 PM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/9546330/Beetroot-juice-may-help-beet-your-best.html

0
A90dfb3c8b984191d8102ccfc0203e90

on November 09, 2012
at 10:00 AM

Incorporate fartleks, tempo runs, intervals, strength training, easy days and long runs. Your longest run shouldn't be more than 6-8 miles at an easy pace. Run by feel. Have easy/rest/cross-training days. Strength train on easy days. Push yourself during intervals, get your heart rate up. Strengthen your core and glutes with weights. Go hard during fartleks and tempos, but not TOO hard. Know your limits, then beat them during that time trial, because you're most likely going to anyway.

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Cool! I've never heard of fartleks. I looked it up on Wiki but are there any specific resources you recommend?

0
62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174

on November 09, 2012
at 03:14 AM

If you don't have success at the track, getting faster, try running up and down hills. Non-paved trails are preferable, but roads will do. Use the downhill to practice faster leg turn-over. Just pick up your feet as fast as possible and let gravity pull you forward. You will train speed into your legs, muscles learn to relax and flex at the proper time with coordination. Then, on the way up, you get some good strength work. The hill should be at least a quarter mile long and rise at least 150 feet per quarter mile.

6f73fca55da9f3fc226e3d9804689706

on November 09, 2012
at 06:53 PM

Ah yes, I am trying to find some good hills to run on!

0
1963db946ae415764d9044222fbf4c5b

on November 08, 2012
at 11:23 PM

You've done the CrossFit to strengthen up, now you need to quit that and run and rest. You could try something like running 3 times a week, with at least one rest day after each: - 1 day run the 3 miles, fast but not so fast that you need days to recover afterwards - 1 day run intervals, e.g. at the speed you're aiming for or slightly faster - 1 day do a longer slower run, say 45 - 60 mins to improve your aerobic systems and try and help lose a little weight Do plenty of walking on the rest days.

For the weight I would try eating less on 2 days a week, probably on rest days. You can still eat 3 meals a day (assuming you do now), or you can try IF, whichever you find easiest, but try to cut your calories hard on those days, say a half or even a third of your normal intake. No snacking for the rest of the week, eat defined meals with no snacks between them.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2012
at 08:33 PM

I just came across this guy. He has some good ideas on training IMO http://philmaffetone.com/myarticles.cfm

His working heart rate recommendations are in the low range for training (180 formula). I'm giving it a shot myself as part of my overall program.

0
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 08, 2012
at 08:32 PM

I'd look at crossfit endurance and do something like they lay out

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