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Improve your 1.5 mile and 2.0 mile times

Updated on August 16, 2014

Having a solid base

If you are beginning a running program to prepare for a timed 1.5 mile or 2.0 mile run then check out the Beginner's Running Plan to gain a solid base before trying to improve your timed runs. If you already have a solid base and just aren't quite getting the times you need then this guide should help you improve your times. Running a timed 1.5 or 2.0 mile run for a physical fitness test for a law enforcement agency or the military is just like an academic test in that you have to prepare in advance and with the right mentality.

*** Note - It is important to make sure you are healthy before beginning any form of physical activity. Make sure to get checked out by a doctor first.


The 1.5 and 2.0 Timed Runs

Most law enforcement agencies and the military require timed runs of a set distance (1.5, 2.0, or 3.0 miles). These timed runs must be done under a certain time for specific age ranges in order to pass the test.

Just as in preparing for a standardized test like the SAT, GRE, or MCAT, it is important to practice in the conditins that will be similar to that of the test. For physical fitness tests that means training on a track or road because most PFTs will be done in this manner. Also preparing mentally to help erase those pre-test jitters so that you perform to the best of your abilities.

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Interval Training

It is common for many people while preparing for a timed running test of 1.5 or 2.0 to either run only long distances or only the distances of the timed test they will be doing. This is great because it will help build upon the foundation needed to complete the distance required, however if the time it takes to run that distance is not under the time needed to pass the test then all of the training was done for nothing. That is why it is important to incorporate interval training into your training to help lower the time needed to pass the timed run portion of the physical fitness test.

Example of interval training:

5-8 x 1/4 mile (400m) at GOAL PACE*

Rest 1-2 minutes between each 1/4 mile

* Goal pace - is the pace you want to run during a race or timed run, which you may not at the present time be able to sustain during the entire distance you are wanting to run. An example would be some one that wants to run 1.5 miles in 13:00 would want to do 1/4 mile (400m) intervals in 1:15. Basically the idea is to get used to that pace by creating muscle memory and stamina.

Why is training at goal pace so important?

Training at a goal pace enables a person to run an even tempo run be that a race or a timed run for a physical fitness test. Many of us have experienced or seen runners go out blazing fast only to run slower and slower as the run progresses because they have burned themselves out. Training at a specific goal place will allow you to run even splits over the distance you have prepared for and can even allow for negative splits, where you start out at a slower pace and get faster with each lap.

Once you are comfortable with 1/4 mile (400m) intervals and build up a solid enough base then you will want to slowly build up to interval training at the following levels.

3-5 x 1/2 mile (800m) at GOAL PACE

Goal pace example for 1/2 mile (800m) = 2:45 per interval.

2-3 x 1 mile (1600m) at GOAL PACE

Goal pace example for 1 mile (1600m) = 6:09 per interval.

A Watch is important when interval training



  • Build a solid foundation
  • Add interval training
  • Add sprints
  • Prepare mentally

Example Training Plan

Long Run
Interval Training
Distance Run with sprints after
Fartlek Run
You can switch these days around to fit your own training schedule. Make sure not to put interval training too close together or you risk injury.

Sprint Training

Adding sprint training to the end of your long runs can help you gain that extra speed at the end of a timed run to help lower your time. On the day of your physical fitness test, when you are nearing the finish of your 1.5 or 2.0 run, and your lungs and legs are burning, wouldn't it be nice to know you have that little extra in your tank to finish strong and fast? That is where sprint training can help you. Adding a few sprints at the end of 1-2 of your longer runs per week can help build that extra finishing speed you need that could help you finish faster. The distance of the sprints should between 35-50m to prevent injury or overtraining. They should not be done at a pace that is too strenuous because sprints will also help with form while running, and if you overdo it then your form will breakdown and you are doing more harm than good.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek Runs are when you run for distance but while doing so you speed up for a distance and then return to normal pace, alternating that cycle for the remainder of the run.


You can alternate running for 2:00 and then speed up for 1:00 continuing this cycle. If you do not have a watch you can also pick a spot (a car, tree, telephone pole,etc.) in the distance and speed the pace up until you reach that spot and then return to a normal pace.


Mental Preperation and Visualization

Being mentally prepared can be just as important as physical training.

Visualization can help mentally prepare you for the day of your timed run.


Adding interval training, sprint training, and fartlek training to your workouts can help you decrease your 1.5 mile or 2.0 mile run times.

Remember to always keep hydrated and wear the appropriate training equipment such as running shoes and color appropriate clothing at night so that cars can see you if you are training on the road.



One of my New Years resolutions this year was to get my 1.5 mile time under 11:00 mins. So for anyone else that is doing the same, or doing it for law enforcement, military, or for whatever reason feel free to leave a comment on your progress!

My current 1.5 mile time is 13:30. Here is to getting just a little bit faster!


Ten days in and everything has been going great other than the cold weather we have gotten down here has made training a little less fun! But I plan on doing my first time trial this Friday and will post the time.


Took some time off from running due to changing jobs and hurting my back. Ran 1.5 miles today and time was surprisingly not as bad as I thought, 14:47! Maybe I can still get close to my goal of under 11:00 by 12/31/14.


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      Jimmy Jones 3 years ago

      Glade to hear your progress is going well. I was at 10:40 a few months ago, and now am at a 09:38! Keep up the good work.