PFT: Run. Your Most Pressing Questions, Answers

How do I get faster in my running for my Marine Corps PFT?

I am an OCS Applicant. I did a PFT Saturday which did not go well. I did 20 Pull Ups, 99 Crunches (I can hit all 100 easily, but not sure what happened) and I ran a 23:39 3 Mile (cut off for OCS candidates is 23:59). A score 265. Captain said I should be at 270+ to be competitive for PLC-Combined.

Now I am not sure this happened because I did run with a sickness, have a bad cold. Also Thursday I was in class from 9am to 8pm and had a 4 hour exhausting lab and then Friday I was in class from 8am to 6pm and had another 4 hour exhausting lab. Also because of heavy snowfall I was not able to run for 4 days prior to the PFT. Not sure if any of these played a part

But what I am really pissed is at 16 years old, for Cross Country, I ran the 5K at 17:10. Now at 22 years old I cant even break 22 mins. I dont know how to get my running faster. I am running 4-6 miles and doing speed works outs but I dont know what is going wrong.



Applicant,  without knowing you and your situation better, there’s no true way to figure out what the “one” problem is. I would guess a combination of factors.

Some thoughts:

Don’t overtrain. Are you taking a day off after tough runs/lower-body workouts, to rest, stretch, recover properly?

Don’t eat right before runs. Just be well-hydrated.

–Obviously you didn’t get alot of rest, that probably did play a part. –Even a cold can impact your run. DO NOT let it get in your head when sickness or something screws up your run. Water under the bridge.

–Are you training with a smart running program and sticking to it? Hard cardio 3-4 times a week is all you need, since you’ve already gotten to a high level a few years back. Don’t run over 4 miles at a time if you are training for the PFT–that extra endurance does not help you like hard sprints or a Fartlek would.

–Conversely, are you overtraining? Running everyday and doing many many miles a week before you’re ready can cause too much muscle damage without giving the muscles recovery time. I’ve seen it many times among motivated candidates, that’s why I reiterate.

Nerves. I am sure you were nervous and your body was tired from sheer adrenaline and nerves before the run. Pray, breathe slowly, make jokes, whatever it takes to calm those butterflies. They will still be there, but if you can turn nerves into nervous, positive ENERGY, that can help.

OCS PFT Finish Line, the Parade Deck
OCS PFT Finish Line, the Parade Deck

–Are you beating yourself up over it? Don’t let it bother you. Get with your OSO. Run a PFT every weekend. Every one you run will help your body and mind.

–Are you 25 pounds heavier than you were at 16? Are you sleeping less, drinking more caffeine, stretching less, lifting less (especially legs)? Your end goal definitely can be that 16 year old’s pace but it will be a training journey to get there.

Be patient, be dedicated, be mentally strong. And you’ll be a Marine before you know it.

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