Operation: Improve Your Running

Push yourself to racing glory with a dose of hard-earned military know-how - including British Military Fitness’s top five exercises.


Posted: 20 September 2010
by Dominique Brady

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When survival depends on personal fitness, it is imperative that the British military personnel are kept at their physical peak. Running plays a big part in army aerobic training, and interval training is key in keeping our troops combat-ready.

There's certainly no slacking when it comes to running in the army. Take the much-feared test of aerobic ability and strength: the Basic Fitness Test. All personnel are required to run 1.5 miles (2.42km) in 14 minutes or less. This bar gets raised higher if they join the infantry - the maximum time is 12:45 but considerably faster times are expected. Only an elite one per cent make the cut to join the revered '300 Club', an exclusive group for the supremely fit - to qualify, men and women under 30 must achieve sub-8:15 and sub-10 times respectively. In addition to their running challenge, recruits have to power through as many sit-ups and press-ups as they can muster in two minutes.

Then there is the 'beep test' which forms part of the multi-stage fitness test for those applying to become officers. Here the crossover between sports training and the army becomes even more clear as many sports coaches and trainers also use the test to estimate an athlete's maximum oxygen uptake.

The test involves running between two points 20m apart on a flat surface with beeps speeding up progressively to indicate the time each sprint should be completed in. A successful pass translates roughly as a 1.5 mile run completed within 10.5 minutes for males and 13 minutes for females - but the progressive nature of the challenge makes this a tough interval session, ideal to both build and test fitness.

It may come as no surprise, therefore, that one of Britain's greatest runners, Kelly Holmes, served a nine-year stint in the army and qualified as a personal training instructor (PTI) before becoming a full-time professional athlete.

During her army stint she competed against her unit, in the army championships and against other services. "The races in the services are mega competitive, " she explains, "The army always felt they were the best at everything and if they lost they were very disappointed."

Army training has been credited by Holmes as helping her become the double gold Olympic athlete we all admire and respect. "It gave me a really good grounding for my athletics career because the army gives you a lot of determination and discipline, and you just don't want to lose," she explains.

British Military Fitness

In recent years, the army's methods to build fitness have been attracting increasing attention - and not just from potential recruits. More than 13,000 people a week attend exercise classes in 104 parks organised by British Military Fitness, a company devoted to getting people to exercise in the great outdoors and run by instructors who are serving - or are former members - of the armed forces. And this includes a good mix of runners, according to Nigel Ilsley, their lead Hyde Park instructor and trained PTI.

"We get some very experienced runners," explains Ilsley. "We have some guys who are currently training in the Hyde Park class who are looking at sub-1:30 half-marathons and just touching on over three-hour marathons. They use our classes as a cross-training element to complement their other training."

Running still forms a key part of their classes. Beginners groups run up to a mile during a class, whereas the advanced class take on anything from three miles or more. The cross-training element comes from the range of military inspired exercises members take part in between bursts of running. And cross-training has never seemed a more appropriate term. Adding testing squats, burpees, press-ups and the plank to your regime will initially guarantee a glowing face and a darkening mood.

Stick with it, though, and Ilsley insists you will see the benefit on race day: "Cross-training allows other specific muscle groups to develop and increases your cardio fitness. This means when your legs become tired during a race, your cardio training will kick in and take over." Setting clear goals about what you want to achieve from new training exercises can also help keep you on track. "You might set yourself a target time of sub-45 minutes to run a 10K, so that will be your focus, and we know overall fitness will help you achieve that," he adds.

After serving in the TA for 11 years, Ilsley is no stranger to the determined attitude that develops through army training. "The army philosophy is 'train hard to fight easy'," he says. "So you train really hard, and when you go into battle it becomes easier."

The following five exercises exclusively provided by British Military Fitness should boost your overall conditioning and help make your next race an easier 'battlefield'.


'On Camp with Kelly', supported by Aviva since 2004, is Dame Kelly Holmes’ mentoring and education initiative for talented young middle distance athletes. For more info visit www.oncampwithkelly.co.uk.


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Discuss this article

infantry is 10.30 1.5 miles and parachute regiment run time 9.18 or below for 1.5 miles
Posted: 21/09/2010 at 20:44

The 1.5 miles had to be completed in 10mins 30 secs or less for for all male soldiers under 30 regardless which regiment or corps, has this changed? 14 mins for 1.5 miles is little more than jogging!


Posted: 22/09/2010 at 10:53

"Cross-training [...] increases your cardio fitness. This means when your legs become tired during a race, your cardio training will kick in and take over."

Brilliant!


Posted: 22/09/2010 at 12:56

for infantry its 10.30 for 1.5miles slower times for other corps like tank regiment,signals and other arms.i did a pft last year so i do know.
Posted: 22/09/2010 at 19:14

I'm pretty sure the time limit for all arms is still 10.30 for trained soldiers under 30, the times are then graduated depending on age and gender, regardless of the cap badge you wear.

The 14 mins maybe a recruit basic training requirement which i still think is jogging and not much of a test.


Posted: 23/09/2010 at 09:53


DM3

"Cross-training [...] increases your cardio fitness. This means when your legs become tired during a race, your cardio training will kick in and take over."

Laughable!

I get the impression some people in the British military seem to think they are physically more capable than the rest of us. 10.30 for a mile and a half is not quick!


Posted: 24/09/2010 at 13:31

NeedForSpeed wrote (see)
I get the impression some people in the British military seem to think they are physically more capable than the rest of us. 10.30 for a mile and a half is not quick!


10:30 does seem very slow considering the target demographic.

At least the cross training advice has shown that although you don't have to be fit to join the military it helps to have a sense of humour.


Posted: 24/09/2010 at 13:37

The basic military fitness test is in 2 parts.  The first part is a 1.5 mile squaded run in 15 mins, followed immediately by 1.5 miles in under 10.5 mins.  The time for the second part changes depending on age after 40 years of age.  There are no different times for different units - hence the word basic in the title.
Posted: 24/09/2010 at 22:49

try being a royal marine commando and yomping 30 miles over harsh dartmoor terrain with 25kg  on your back in 8 hours or doing the other commando test when physical knackered.being in the army is more about fighting with and carry heavy loads of kit than being a little racing snakes.most runners with a tiny frame would find that difficult.but like ive been trying to say when i joined the army before basic to get in to the paras i needed a 9.18 1.5 mile time but i missed out by 10 seconds so didnt get it.i think your right about regular soldiers needing a 10.30 or below once trained.regular infantry to pass out of basic training need a 10.30 or below.if you fail 3 times they get rid of you.a mate of mine was discharged for being unfit for miltary service because he couldnt pass run time.you also have to pass cft which for infantry is 25kg 8 mile loaded march in 1 hour 50 mins.the regular army has the easy tests,royalmarines and paras are elite and a cut above everyone else.so need for speed do you think youve got what it takes to be royal marine or a para?look up their tests before you chat shit about stuff you obviously know nothing about.
Posted: 25/09/2010 at 22:51

parachute regiment test week link http://www.theparas.co.uk/pcoy.html

royal marine commando tests link http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.6171

tell me there easy


Posted: 25/09/2010 at 22:56


DM3

Yes, Scriv, If I was to be put through the royal marine or para tests tomorrow morning I'm pretty damn sure I'd have what it takes.

As for your assertion that I "chat shit about stuff you obviously know nothing about." All I said was that running a mile and a half in 10 and a half minutes is easy... and I know a lot about that! 


Posted: 03/10/2010 at 17:26


your all talk 

you haven't got what it takes 


Posted: 08/10/2010 at 13:17


OJO

No comment on army entry tests.

But this "article" is just advertorial puff for BMF isn't it?

 And like lots of other fitness brands, there's a fair amount of BS bundled into what some of their instructors say.

The bit about cardio training Silas has pointed out is funny. I'm not sure why I would want "a glowing face and a darkening mood". Though if I were into paying to be shouted at, BMF would certainly be a budget option.


Posted: 08/10/2010 at 15:13

Running a PFT in 1030 is a BASIC test. If it takes you that long you should be embarrassed.  However there are a few exceptions, bug rugby players, muscley guys that are bigger and better at moving with weight will not be as quick.  This is a BASIC test that your average fat knacker wouldn't pass and it is simply to keep them out.  Being 'Army fit' is more about being an all rounder and lets face it, like any other job there are a few lazy ones that manage to hide in the shadows but don't think for a second that running a 1030 PFT is easy for your average FAT knacker nor does it make you an elite fighting force. BASIC test and it is also one of many that include other types of fitness, muscle endurance and skill such as shooting.  We are on the "runners world" forum, clearly there isn't many of you that would find this difficult.  
Posted: 31/10/2010 at 19:19

10:30 for males under 30.  I don't know where that 14min figure is from!? Maybe for 'fat girls over 50', I really don't know.
Posted: 31/10/2010 at 19:22

scriv184 wrote (see)
try being a royal marine commando and yomping 30 miles over harsh dartmoor terrain with 25kg  on your back in 8 hours or doing the other commando test when physical knackered.being in the army is more about fighting with and carry heavy loads of kit than being a little racing snakes.most runners with a tiny frame would find that difficult.but like ive been trying to say when i joined the army before basic to get in to the paras i needed a 9.18 1.5 mile time but i missed out by 10 seconds so didnt get it.i think your right about regular soldiers needing a 10.30 or below once trained.regular infantry to pass out of basic training need a 10.30 or below.if you fail 3 times they get rid of you.a mate of mine was discharged for being unfit for miltary service because he couldnt pass run time.you also have to pass cft which for infantry is 25kg 8 mile loaded march in 1 hour 50 mins.the regular army has the easy tests,royalmarines and paras are elite and a cut above everyone else.so need for speed do you think youve got what it takes to be royal marine or a para?look up their tests before you chat shit about stuff you obviously know nothing about.

Really ! May I suggest you go and google them figures again.
Posted: 14/12/2010 at 23:14

The 1.5 mile test is the Basic Fitness Test. and the same basic standard is expected of all arms although an allowance is made for age.  Over 40 you probaby just breathe on a mirror, No BFT; no pay.

Occasionally the BFT may be used to screen applicants so, for example, the All Ams Para Course has a sub 9:30 standard.

A test for soldiers rather than REMFs is the Combat Fitness Test: 8 miles carrying 35 lb pack plus weapon in a time between 1hr 55 mins & 2 hrs. Completed as a squad

Should you feel you are up to the challenge these are the basic entry standards for an aspirant Officer.

Beep Test : Male - level 10.2; Female - level 8.1

Sit-ups: 50 in 2 mins

Press up: 44 in 2 mins (M); 21 in 2 mins (F)

Remember, all of  these are the minimum. Most infantryman in my old Coy, for example, would have been sub 9:30  for the BFT. Life as an infantryman is very hard if you are only achieving the mimimum. faugh a ballagh!.


Posted: 29/12/2010 at 05:41

"the regular army has the easy tests,royalmarines and paras are elite and a cut above everyone else" 

So who is talking shit now! Paras and RM are great but not cut from a different cloth than Regular Inf.


Posted: 29/12/2010 at 05:48

to enter the paras you need a sub 9.40 1.5 mile run but you jog the route first so is realy three miles all this straight after best effort push ups and sit ups!! it's why they are the best not sure on other regiments
Posted: 13/05/2012 at 04:18

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