121227-M-JM783-002Yes running sucks, and the only way to get better at it is to keep on running. You don’t need to run 10 miles a day each day to get better and you don’t need to run daily to get better. Start where you can and again, set realistic goals. Keep in mind that during boot camp, there are no PT runs that are farther than three miles. And your runs will begin at 1.5 miles and will be a steady pace and will increase to 3 miles. At the end of boot camp you do one run that is about 4 miles or so, but this is a battalion sized run and it is very slow.

If you struggle with 1 mile, then don’t worry about longer distances for now until you perfect one mile. A good run pace for boot camp is to be able to run 30 minutes non-stop REGARDLESS of distance. Boot camp runs are based off of the “30“ minute run time. Once you can run 30 minutes non stop with ease, you then can increase your time and try running set distances such as 2, 3 miles.

Run outside whenever you can preferably on hard pavement. The PFT/IST wont be on a treadmill, so any gains made on the treadmill can’t be compared to the real deal. Just try to run every other day, switch it up, some days longer distances, some days try to run short distances but faster, find what works for you and master it. And remember, if you run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes, this does not mean you will run 3 miles in 20 minutes. It is very hard to maintain the same pace for 3 miles. If you want a 3 mile time for yourself, the only way to do this is to actually run 3 miles and not by doubling your IST run time. An average USMC 3 mile run PFT time is between 20-22 minutes. Those times should be your first goal.

One of the most common questions asked in regards to running is this: How far should I be able to run before boot camp? The answer is simple. Once you can run 3 miles in under 22 minutes or so, you are free to run as far as you want. The longer distances you can run, the more confident you’ll get.

marine-ocs-pft-runI understand the main focus before boot camp is being able to run 1.5 miles, but you need to understand that in the Marines and during boot camp you are tested on 3 mile runs and not 1.5 miles. So it wouldn’t hurt you to take some PFT’s while in the DEP.

I also understand we are all tough guys/gals. But if you are injured while running or injure your body and can’t run, it is very important you don’t try to be a macho man and exercise through the pain. Being hurt is a part of life, even in the Marines. If you have a legit injury, you want to let it heal because if you run on it, you are taking a huge risk in further injuring yourself and possibly doing permanent damage which will result in you not making it into the Marines. Yes, be tough, but also be smart. And I’m not talking about typical soreness and aches and pains. I’m talking about things such as sprained knees or ankles. Injuries like these must be healed and must be respected.

And as always, do not forget to drink plenty of water, especially the days before you go on your runs. This includes during cold and inclement weather.

Important tips about running:

  • Be sure to wear good running shoes.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate, even when it is cold and or rainy.
  • Try to include uphill runs when possible.
  • There is no need to run long distances or for hours.This doesn’t mean to avoid doing these things, but just understand they are not necessary.
  • Mix in some sprints of no more than 100 yards into your routine.
  • Mix in some indian runs when possible.
  • Don’t forget to rest your body to allow for it to recover.
  • Don’t run with added weights. Not necessary and not wise.
  • Average 3 mile run time for Marines is about 20-22 minutes. This should be your first goal and once met, you can move on.
  • Be sure to breathe properly and have good run form. Be relaxed when running. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth.
  • If you are getting shin splints, let them heal to avoid severe damage such as stress fractures.
  • If you are a beginner runner, be patient and do not over do it when starting your routine.

Be sure to read through the comments for some advice and tips about running from your peers. And if you have anything to add, feel free to do so.

11 responses

  1. Joe

    I prefer to run short sprints of 100 yards or less and then once a week run longer distances like 2 or 3 miles. This is what works for me.

    August 2, 2011 at 16:08

  2. What helped my 1.5 mile run time was just running 3 miles non-stop. After about a week of running 1.5 miles everyday, my time was improving quickly. After about two weeks of running 1.5 miles, my improvement started to slow down. I started running 3 miles everyday, and my 1.5 mile time is improving quickly again.

    That’s just what I did to improve 1.5 mile running time.

    August 2, 2011 at 16:30

  3. Lenis

    When I was trying to get in shape for running(I started out doing a mile and a half in 15 minutes and be ready to die. now i can do it in 10, barely even breathing hard), the thing you need to do is understand that you won’t get better overnight. Find your goal time, and put yourself on a plan. I found that running everyday and taking saturday’s off worked for me, but again, it’s whatever you prefer. Generally, what you want to try is mixing both long runs and speed work into your week of running. For running distance, start out running 30 minutes twice a week at a jog, 30 minutes twice a week at a faster pace, and 45 minutes at a comfortable pace. If you can’t do that, do the same time’s, but instead of running, change your speed accordingly. Once you can jog for 30 minutes comfortably, do that for a few weeks until it seems pretty easy. Then what you can do is begin putting in speed work: find a hill around where you live, and do sprints up it, i’d personally try to do at least 10, with a 20 minute cool down afterwards; or, do 400 and 800 meter repeats if you have a track nearby at your goal mile pace. For example, if you want to do 6 minute miles, do 400 meters in 90 seconds, or 800 meters in 180 seconds. Do at least 4 of either, or more, with 90 seconds-2 minute rest in between, and once you’re done do a 10 minute cool down. If you get to this point, try to do these kinds of workouts twice a week. Thats generally the way I started. Once I got into good running shape, my week basically looked like this: monday was a 45-50 minute training run(about 2 minutes slower than my mile race pace. so if i ran 6 minute miles in a race, i’d run around 8 minute miles), Tuesday 40 minute “easy” run (not a jog, but not a fast run, just what feels comfortable to let your legs recover), Wednesday was speed work(either 8 400 meter repeats, 2 400 meter to 4 800 back down to 2 400 meter repeats, or 4 800 meter repeats. all at your goal pace) Thursday was 40 minute active recovery(so, not as easy as tuesday, but still not really hard), Friday was a 30 minute-40 minute run at whatever felt good, Saturday was off, Sunday was a long run (about an hour). This schedule could of course be changed around, as skill increases. Once you understand how you run, you can start figuring how many miles you run, etc… By the end of doing all of this, my fastest 3 mile time was 18:20. But, be warned, this didn’t happen overnight. It took me around a year to get there.

    Oh, and before I forget, make sure you stay VERY hydrated, and watch what you eat. You can’t run off a bad diet. Just as a heads up: when you start running a lot, if you don’t eat right, your body will tell you. Runner’s diarrhea is the worst experience you will ever have, I guarantee you.

    Good Luck

    August 2, 2011 at 17:15

    • Outstanding advice Lenis.

      August 2, 2011 at 21:12

      • Trey Battles

        my main focus is just endurance, stamina, I’m 6’5 around 220 ibs so I’m not to worried about my weight or anything. Every chance I can get 15 to 20 minutes away from work or school I try to squeeze in some run time. whenever I think about quitting I just think about the first time my DI calls me a Marine.

        December 20, 2014 at 02:54

  4. Cameron Eckhaus


    My first poolee function, we went out and ran three miles. I didn’t hydrate right, puked my guts out and Gunny said I was about as green as the Hulk.

    You don’t hydrate? You don’t run. End of story, there is no argument.

    I hate running with a passion, I think people who enjoy it are freaks. But it is necessary, so here we are. I personally am a big of sprints during my runs. Whether you have a preset length, or you pick out a stop sign to sprint to while out on a run; Sprints are a killer good work out for your legs. Because in the end, its a mix of strength and endurance. Keep running, and run hard every time you run. You don’t have to kill yourself every time, just run hard until you can’t. Set a goal. And remember: You take out what you put it.

    Stay motivated.

    September 6, 2011 at 15:49

  5. Dreambig4

    It is true that running is very hard at the beginning, but you cant get better unless you do it over and over again. Start off with small distances and work your way up. I used to not be able to run a lap around the track without having to stop. I was in horrible shape but now i can run 3 miles with no problem. It takes time. Dont overdo it though. your body also needs time to rest.

    September 8, 2011 at 19:10

  6. Will

    I’m trying the Couch-to-5k running plan and it seems to be working very well.

    January 30, 2012 at 23:30

  7. David

    I am currently increasing my runs after I got a fracture in my leg. It is important to warm up properly and to stretch after your run/cool down. This will help prevent tendonitis, which I have faced before because of a lack of warm up and cool down combined with over-training. Ramp up your total run volume incrementally. Most marathon training programs I have seen say it is best to increase only by about 10% (10 miles one week, then 11 the next week, then 12.1 the next, and so on) each week and every 4 or 5 weeks take a few extra days off. While you may not be looking to do marathons, this is a good limiting program that will help to protect you from over-training and over-use injuries which can put you out of commission for weeks or months at a time. Additionally, use hills to your advantage, get used to running up them hard and down them controlled but fast.

    Do yourself a huge favor and just pick up some running reading materials and read-up on how professionals train and so on. This has the added benefit of giving you motivation especially when you see a new idea you could implement into your run. Keep your mind open that your running technique may not be the best for you. I have known a large number of people who have changed their running techniques (gradually) and have reaped a ton of benefit. A few examples are my brother, Marine Sgt. who also runs marathons, took up running in vibram 5 fingers and saw his running speeds and comfort skyrocket even after being in the Marines 3 years already. My girlfriend lost all knee pain and discomfort from becoming a vibram “toe-striker”. I have learned from Chi Running and vibram training to adapt from really bad heel-striking to running on my toes and leaning slightly forward (that is to say I run with a healthy straight back) and just kind of let my whole body fall forward into the run and use my running speed to keep from fallin on my face. This takes several minutes off of my run and makes a fast pace much easier since I’m basically in a constant state of falling and running to keep up.

    Like I said, read up on running and/or talk to a very experienced runner. Have an experienced runner (marathoner, speedy Marine, or even just a cross-country coach or whatever) run with you and watch your technique. Train by using sprints, hills, target distance (3 miles for the PFT), long distance (this helps with overall endurance and vascular adaptation), and maybe even a bit of cross-training, like kettlebells or deadlifts or whatever. You’d be amazed how much your running technique can improve by strengthening your core and upper back separately from running because this will allow you to use proper running posture for longer, which helps you breathe much easier. Keep in mind that if you do change your technique or anything, all gains must be gradual or you can really hurt yourself.

    Right now I’m developing my program as follows:
    Distance run once/week (6 miles this week)
    Target Distance Drills (Different sprint protocols for 3+ miles or run 3 miles flat out for time)
    Short Sprints (20 second sprints/ten second rest for 1 mile)
    Mile Sprint (run a mile as hard and fast as I can)
    And throw in 3 rest days here and there.

    This week I am going for 12 miles and then next week will be 12.12 miles.
    Each week I slightly change my routine by adding a bit extra distance to one or a number of the different runs; It’s awkward to do a .12 mile addition, but as time goes on I can add more miles per week and expand my routine. Once I have adapted to enough miles per week I can add more running days and nix some rest days, but for right now I the spectrum of distance, target, and varying sprints. I am really excited for how I can change my program as my mileage goes up to include two different types of running in a single day, like run 3 miles for a PFT trial run and then just keep running another 3 miles to make an overall 6 mile distance.

    Anyway, this became a book. Oops! Good luck guys!

    October 2, 2012 at 02:29

  8. David

    *next week will be 13.2

    October 2, 2012 at 02:34

  9. Joey

    Indian runs helped me improve my run times by alot.

    May 29, 2013 at 19:23

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