Army 10 Miler | Tips to Run Faster

August 28, 2022

Are you seeking to run a new personal best at the Army 10 miler? If so, I am glad you have made it here to Nutrition Geeks. I served over 20 years on active duty in the Army and had the pleasure of competing at this race several times. My top performance was a 12th place finish in 2004 with a time of 51:53. I also was a member of the 2010 Army 10 miler international championship team. I finished as the 4th man on the team with a time of 51:58. Our top finisher was 2-time Olympian, LTC Dan Browne. Dan ran 48:20 and was the previous Army ten miler course record holder.

The Army 10-miler is America's second largest 10 mile road race. The largest of which is the Cherry Blossom 10 miler also held in Washington DC. I took 24th there in 2007 with a time of 51:29. It is also highly competitive and takes place on mostly flat course. There are some light undulations on the course but the majority of it is pancake flat. The weather conditions of the race can be hot but some years it is relatively cool at the start. I highly recommend getting to the start line well in advance. The Washington DC metro is extremely crowded the morning of the race. So, make sure to leave your hotel 2 hours in advance to ensure you are not late for the race start.

What Day is Army 10 Miler?

Are you seeking a new personal best for 10 miles? If so, I hope the nutritional and running-related resources available here will help you make the next big leap in your racing. My top recommendation is to focus on a 4 week base-building phase. You want to build your endurance and strengthen your body first before moving to harder, anaerobic workouts.

MAJ (ret.) Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

The Army 10-miler is usually held in the first or second week of October each year. Remember, focus on a 16 to 20 week training block for this race. It takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to any physiological stress load you are placing on it. So, don't be in a rush. 4 to 5 months is plenty of time to prepare properly for the 10 mile distance.

Are you seeking to run faster on your Army ACFT test? If so, you may want to check out the new running course I created called the Army ACFT Embrace the Suck 2 mile course. Remember, the faster you can 2 miles the better you are going to be prepared to race over 10 miles to the marathon. The key is to improve your body's ability to clear lactic acid more effectively. The only way to heighten your lactate tolerance capability is to run at paces significantly faster than your goal 10 mile race pace.


How Long is the Army 10 Miler?

The Army 10-miler is 16 kilometers in length or 10 miles and was first run in 1985. I would certainly not try to make a move until you get past the 5 mile mark of this race. The reason is far too many military members as well as civilians will go out too fast in this race. The result is they go into oxygen debt and will be forced to slow down missing their time goals. The running courses and training plans I created on that I link here will help to set you up for success.

I wanted to create resources that could help speed up the learning curve of both military members as well as civilians. Again, it takes time for the body to adapt to the stresses you are placing on it. So, expect the fact that you will be challenged in training. The race is the celebration of all your hard work. Let your competition be worried, tense and uptight the morning of the race, not you. Of course, it is common to be nervous. That being said, take confidence in the training you have done and you will succeed at this race.

How Much Does the Army 10 Miler Cost?

It usually ranges from $59 to $100 USD depending on when you register for the race. Obviously, the earlier you register the cheaper the price is going to be. The best way to prepare for the Army 10 miler is to start doing strides twice per week. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter sprints. Strides are too short to build up any significant amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these short, acceleration drills prior to the start of your easy and hard workouts.

Army 10 Miler
MAJ (ret.) Pennington (second from left) with the 2010 Army 10 Miler International Championship Team

They key benefit is you will have run several miles or kilometers at sprint paces over a 16 to 20 week training plan. I have also created 10 mile training plans on you may want to check out. I have also linked the courses, training plans and coaching serviced available there, here as well. What has been the longest tempo run you have done training for this race? 3 miles? 4? I would focus on extending the length of your tempo runs out toward 7 to 9 miles.

Of course, you have to adapt first to 2 to 3 mile tempo runs before lengthening the duration. That being said, the longer you can spend training at your anaerobic threshold, the better. The reason being is we want to get better at clearing lactic acid while running at faster paces. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise in the body. We run around 85 to 89 percent of maximum heart rate at this intensity.

How Do I Prepare for a 10 Mile Run?

Be consistent. Nothing can take the place of this. Also, don't run your long runs every single weekend slow. You should run faster, varied paced long runs every other weekend. I dropped my 10 mile time from 55:32 to 50:54 using this strategy. In addition, lowered my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I teach the exact way I did this in the Army ACFT 2 mile running course and all of my other running courses. In addition, the training methodology I used throughout my career is built into the training plans I created as well.

So, I know faster long runs are key to running much faster over the 10 mile distance. Below are some examples of the types of long runs I was doing training for the Army 10 miler and my marathon races. Of course, you can adjust your paces. What I want you to pay attention to here is the variations in pace. How have you been conducting your long runs in the past? Have they been slow every weekend? Perhaps now is the time to make some changes?

  • 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 3 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 4 miles easy (21 miles)
  • 2 mile jog, 10 miles@5:25 mile pace, 3 miles easy, 4 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 1 mile easy (22 miles)

Jog on Easy Days

The best runners know how important recovery is. So, make sure you are jogging on your recovery days. The days you want to focus on pace is when doing vo2 max workouts. In addition, during your tempo runs and faster, varied paced long runs. Remember, always alternate running harder during your long run one weekend followed by easy, relaxed effort the next weekend. Recovery days is where all of the benefits of your hard training are going to take place.

You also want to focus on developing your speed and working on your leg turnover. So, training at your vo2 max is key to getting your 10-mile race pace to feel easier. We are running between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate running at this intensity. It is running at speeds so aggressive we need to take short breaks between each hard repetition. That being said, training at this intensity will help make your 10 mile goal race pace to feel more like marathon pace instead.


Hill Repetitions & Fartlek Workouts

Hills repetitions and fartlek training are also examples of vo2 max workouts. Again, the overall goal here is to improve your body's lactate tolerance. I know how difficult this type of training is. I state to jog on those easy days for a reason. Remember, there is only so many times you can stress the body before you get diminished returns. The training plans, running courses and personal coaching I offer are ways to ensure you succeed.

I highly recommend considering investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245. It helps me to ensure I am running at the proper heart rate zones. Below are my top recommended heart rates you should focus on while running at differing intensities. I hope that this is helpful to you as you prepare for your upcoming Army ten miler event. Make sure to use these for your other races as well. These heart rates are based off an athlete with a max heart rate of 170 BPM. So, focus on the percentages and calculate for your age.

  • Easy: 65-74% of max HR or around 110-125BPM
  • Marathon (moderate effort): 75-84% of max HR or around 127-142BPM
  • Threshold: 85-89% of max HR or around 144-149BPM
  • Interval: 95-100% of max HR or around 161-170BPM
  • Repetition: 105% of max HR or around 178BPM

Closing Thoughts

I would love to keep in touch and hear about your future success. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I make new videos there each week revolved around running, racing and training that I am sure will be helpful to you. Also, make sure to start adding in mental rehearsal to your training routine. You need to see yourself getting across that finish line in Washington DC mentally before it happens in reality.

The vast majority of runners only focus on physical training and bypass mental training. The world's top distances runners focus on both. They know to run at the top level you have to train both the mind as well as the body. So, start taking 10 to 15 minutes daily and mentally rehearse. See yourself running fast, in control and passing people in the race. I want you to continue to do this daily for the next 4 to 5 months as you train.

I can promise you that if you stay consistent with this you are going to set a new personal best. Lastly, I hope that this post and the resources available here will help speed up your progress. Keep me posted on your training and racing.


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