Female Candidate Q: Running and Lower Body Preparation

Female Candidate’s Q:

Hi! I’m getting ready to leave for OCS in about 7 weeks. I’m confident about my core and upper body strength, but my run time is not ideal. My max is about 25 minutes. I could use some advice. Should I be doing 3 miles 5 days a week, focusing on hills and sprints, or doing distance? Should I be using weight or running in boots? I’ve heard both yes and no (no because shin splits develop easily). Should I incorporate other cardio? Any advice is greatly appreciated.


Fantastic question. There are a million options but I recommend using variety above all to prepare. For example, hard sprints one day, rest legs the next day. Medium length (3 miles or so) run in running shoes, followed by a rest day for legs. Then a boots run–start out slowly wherever you are, and build up to 3 miles, followed by a rest day for legs. Lastly, a leg weights day–try a pyramid of deadlifting, followed by a rest day for legs. On any of those days, including rest days, if you can mix in any other cardio–go for it! Especially swimming or something easy on your joints like that.

Be wary of overtraining, so listen very closely to your body and don’t hurt yourself to ease stupid “workout guilt” if you need to take an extra rest day. Big deal. The deadlifting day will be sufficient for weight-bearing. Push yourself hard and utilize the muscle confusion of VARIETY. Good luck and keep it up!

The above recommendations in bullet form:

  • Hard sprint workout
  • Rest day
  • Medium length run in running shoes (about 3 miles)
  • Rest day
  • Boots run–start out slow and short!
  • Rest day
  • Weights. Deadlifts, squats, lunges, kettlebell swings.

One thought on “Female Candidate Q: Running and Lower Body Preparation

  1. I’ve been working on getting my run time down as well, and the miracle for me has been spin classes. Find a spin class in your area and go as many times a week as you can! It is amazing cardio, works your legs, and is low impact, so you don’t have to fear an injury in the weeks before OCS. A couple months ago, I was coming off a leg injury and running was still too painful and I didn’t want to risk re-injury, so I started spinning. In a month of spin, my run time dropped two minutes, and I had only gone running during that time once. (Not that I recommend NOT running, I was just taking it easy until my leg healed fully.)

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