Running is a vital part of training for the Australian Defence Force. First, you will have to be ready to pass the beep test on your PPFA, and second, you'll be assessed for how fast you run 2.4km during training camp.
Those two tests put slightly different demands on your body, so if you'd like to ace both, you will need a comprehensive approach to your running training. This article lists 10 tips to help you get better at running, so you can pass the beep test with flying colours and hit your 2.4km run time with confidence.
#1. Have a Strategy
This one's a no-brainer. You need a training plan, or you risk not improving as quickly and consistently as you'd like. There are plenty of training plans on the internet, lots of them for free, others paid, and you can end up wasting time trying to figure out which to follow.
Before making a decision, we'd highly advise you to look up the person who designed it and check their credentials. If you're looking for free plans from experts not only in training but also in what standards you need to hit for the ADF, check out our Resources page, where you'll find guides to help you improve your beep test and your 2.4km run.
#2. Get Your Gait Analysed
You can find a wide range of services available to get a gait analysis, so you'll know what areas your training should be focusing on, and it also helps to buy the right running shoes. More on this later.
Find a podiatrist in your area who offers gait analysis for runners. They don't only help you identify your running pattern but assess discrepancies and explain to you if there are particular areas, like tightness in the hips or leg muscles, that cause issues with your running. This information will be super helpful in creating a comprehensive training plan and minimising injury risks from running.
#3. Buy the Correct Shoe
First, assess where you'll be jogging and choose shoes appropriate for the terrain. If you do the majority of your training off-road, road shoes with built-up heels are not recommended since you will be more unstable and may twist an ankle. Similarly, trail running shoes with severely studded outsoles will be highly unpleasant on paved roads since the studs will press into your feet.
Besides considering the terrain, you'd also want to use the results from your gait analysis to figure out the type of padding your shoes should have. You also want to make sure that it fits you, so it's not too tight but not loose either. Ensure it's suitable for the season and how heavy you use it. The last thing to consider is the recommended mileage. Change them once they are worn out.
#4. Choose the Right Running Gear
They say you only need a pair of trainers, a T-shirt and running shorts to have a great exercise session. It's true, so long you have the right gear. Considering how often you'll run, you might want to invest in running-specific socks and clothing that's weather-appropriate but also lightweight, breathable and sweat-wicking.
The better your body can manage your core temperature during runs and ensure you don't end up sweaty under your clothes, or worse, cottonwear being drenched while you're running, the more you'll be able to focus on your training.
#5. Stick to the Plan
Running plans include regular running sessions of varying lengths, intensities or distances, but they all have one thing in common: you must go for a run multiple times a week without fail for them to work.
So, this tip is just about consistency and ensuring that you do exactly what's in your plan if you want to see the desired results.
#6. Improve Your Strength and Mobility
If you want to be fast, you'll need to be able to generate more power with your muscles. In other words, you want to get strong. Work on your glutes, legs, and core strength with compound movements and explosive exercises.
Your hip, knee, and ankle mobility also plays a big part in your performance and how strong you can get, so don't forget to work on those during your sessions either. A thorough warm-up mobilisation and stretching after your run should be part of your session each time.
#7. Include Interval Training and Sprints
Interval training helps you become a faster runner, helps you work on your energy efficiency and improves your aerobic capacity. You can do this on flat terrain by running fartleks or 400m run multiple times within the session with adequate recovery or even hill sprints.
You can learn how to accelerate to maximum speed and then decelerate safely but quickly when doing sprints on flat, which will be crucial in the faster parts of the beep test, where you'll have to be quick but also sharp in changing directions.
#8. Include Running Drills
Running drills have two advantages. The first is when you utilise them as part of your pre-run warm-up before a fast run attempt, like testing your 2.4km speed. They assist in preparing your body to blast out of the gate and hit your racing speed immediately.
The second advantage is long-term. Including exercises in your weekly practice, before or after a short run, can help you improve your running technique over time and bring out any imbalances you might want to improve.
#9. Fuel for Endurance
Eating for performance isn't only crucial before your assessment day but throughout your training. Get your nutrition right, and your body will do wonders in progress. Get it wrong, and you might be in much pain from exercise, lack energy and unable to perform at your best.
#10. Take Your Recovery Seriously
Recovering from your training is just as important as the training itself. If your body doesn't get the chance to rebuild muscle tissue, balance your hormones and perform a host of other tasks to keep your body at peak performance during your sleep, you may quickly become overtrained, exhausted and risk getting injured.
So, while you can, ensure you get enough quality sleep every night, genuinely rest on your rest days and also focus on stress management to create an environment where your body has no choice but to perform at its best.
Getting better at running doesn't only involve going out and running three times a week for the same distance at the same pace. You need a complex approach and intelligent plans to pass your PFA. Feel free to get in touch if you need some directions!
Michael and Carly both have walked the path you are about to take and are commited to help you get started with your training for a successful enlistment with free tips and articles.