How to Crush Your Timed Runs with Run and Leg Workouts

(U.S. Army/Spc. Creighton Holub)

Running faster on timed runs is a goal many of us have while serving in the military. Many will practice running longer distances slower than their goal pace to build a base of cardiovascular fitness, but eventually you will need to also practice running faster.

Finding a track nearby is useful for this workout, but it can also be run on a treadmill, trail, road or sidewalk.

Another option for one of your running workouts of the week is to run your distances on hills or the beach to make running more challenging on the legs and lungs. However, the following track workout is an excellent way not just to practice your future goal pace, but also to master it.

Warmup Jog: 5-10 Minutes with Light Stretches

Prime yourself and get ready to run faster with additional warmup sections at a moderate pace.

Squat and Run Pyramid: 1-10 with 100-Meter Jogs Between Sets

This section looks like this:

  • 1 squat, run 100 meters
  • 2 squats, run 100 meters
  • 3 squats, run 100 meters

Keep going up the ladder until you reach set 10. Now you are ready to hit the following workout:

400- or 800-Meter Sets

It’s up to you and depends on your ability to maintain your goal pace for a timed run over a set distance. Your goal pace is defined as your current pace minus one minute.

For instance, if your current pace is a seven-minute mile or a 10:30 1.5-mile timed run and you want to run closer to a six-minute mile pace or nine-minute, 1.5-mile run, you need to practice the pace of a 1:30 400-meter run and a three-minute, 800-meter run.

As you start with this challenge, give yourself a range that places you in the 6-6:30-minute pace. The range to shoot for then would be 1:30-1:38 per 400-meter run or a 3:00-3:15 per 800-meter run time if you need a window.

Repeat four times:

  • Run 800 meters at goal pace
  • Squats: 20
  • Lunges:10 per leg
  • Stretch as needed but at minimum rest between sets

You can also try eight 400-meter runs and do the squats and lunges every other set. It maintains the same distance and repetitions, but is a completely different challenge to your abilities.

After you complete the run and leg PT sets, finish the full pyramid that you started with and use it as a way to push a faster run pace for shorter distances.

Reverse Pyramid 10-1 Squats with 200-Meter Runs (Fast Between Sets)

The final section of the run workout looks like this:

  • 10 squats, run 200 meters fast. You aren't sprinting but running faster than your goal pace.
  • 9 squats, run 200 meters
  • 8 squats, run 200 meters

Keep going to one squat and a total of 10 x 200-meter runs.

Supplemental Addition to Run and Leg PT Day This secondary workout depends on your future goals. Will you ruck much in your training or job? Or are you going to be swimming or diving while wearing scuba fins? The following depends on your options and what you need. If you are preparing for special ops like Marine Recon, SEAL, SWCC or Air Force Special Warfare, you may want to do both in a separate workout later in the day.

Ruck or Swim (or Both)

  • Ruck 45 minutes, swim a 500-meter warmup or tread water for 10 minutes with no hands
  • Swim 2,000 meters with fins
  • Dynamic stretch in chest-deep water for 10 minutes

If you are looking for a week of running workouts, consider doing this type of workout twice a week. To assess yourself, try a few running days to test your timed run event distance after a warmup and on fresh legs.

Another running workout, a fifth day, can be a steadily paced longer, slower distance workout if you prefer. If you are trying to limit the impact pains of running, do a few hard non-impact cardio workouts on the bike, elliptical, rower or in the pool.

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

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