Tactical Fitness: How to Become Comfortable Running Three Miles for the PFT

Marine recruits perform the three-mile run portion of the physical fitness test on Parris Island.
U.S. Marine Corps recruits with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, and Papa Company, 4th Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, perform the three-mile run portion of the physical fitness test (PFT) on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S. C., April 17, 2018. (Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Hey, Stew,

My name is Ian. I'm enlisting in the USMC, and I'm trying to get ready for the three-mile PFT run. I've run it before in 22:00, but I can't consistently. How can I get it so that I'm more comfortable running three miles? I'm not worried about speed yet, just having my body comfortable with the three-mile run.


Running is all about progressing logically and not just jumping into long-distance running where you may have left off years ago. Many first-time runners do too much, too soon, too fast, run a 10-miler and wonder why they get injured. So take your current running miles per week and add 10%-15% to the distance or total time you are spending each week. 

This is a typical progression, but you have to listen to your body. Stretch well, learn how to use a foam roller, self-massage and rest when needed. Build up your 1.5- to two-mile runs, and soon that will grow into a fast three-mile timed run.

See related articles on recovering from running and running faster:

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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