I was wondering what is the best way to improve my cardiovascular endurance.

I am a moderately fit guy and I am going in to the navy In less than a month and a half and I would like to be in the best shape I can by then. I regularly go to the gym and on entry to the Royal navy I need to be able to run 2.4 kilometers in under 11 minutes and 13 seconds (on road). I am not exactly slim or built. weight is 92 kilos (14.4 stone, 202 lb), on a treadmill (which I normally train on) I am able to run an average time of 10.05 - 10.15 and 9.45 being my fastest time yet. most times I feel like I would not be able to complete it but just push on through. I'm not a very confident runner when it comes to timing and would like to have ideas of improving my cardio fast!

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    The treadmill is fine for improving your cardio, but don't rely on its measurements. Some cheaper treadmills are notoriously out. The powered belt is assisting your stride and thus different muscle action is involved. You have to get out on to the road and time yourself, where you'll be subjected to wind, temperature, unevenness of surface and possibly slight inclines and declines.
    – jontyc
    Jan 3, 2013 at 0:32
  • There's a limit to how much you'll be able to improve your cardio in a few weeks. I'd time yourself on the road--but if the treadmill is reasonably close and you're hitting the 10 min mark, an additional minute is a fair amount of play. You yourself hint that it's more of a mental than physical issue: in addition to actual road work, do some positive visualization. Jan 3, 2013 at 2:05
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    Also most running experts say that it takes two weeks for your body to fully incorporate the gains made by a workout, this is why many plans have a 7-14 day taper before the target race, anything you do within that window is not going to help you on your test, and you increase the likeness of soreness or injury, for no gain...
    – BillN
    Jan 3, 2013 at 16:48

3 Answers 3


The best way to improve your cardiovascular fitness is to do more of whatever it is you are doing, in a tempered, gradual progression.

As mentioned above, 5 or 6 weeks is not enough to drastically improve your speed, but you can improve somewhat. Here's what I would recommend for you -

  1. Run. Almost every day. Take your longest run, do that once a week. 3 times a week, do 1/3 of that time, and 2 times a week do 2/3 of that time. So if your longest run is 60 minutes, that would be 3 runs of 20 mins and 2 runs of 40.
  2. Speedwork - Incorporate (probably into one of your middle distance runs) sections of uptempo, faster running. Get used to running faster.
  3. Sleep/recovery - Make sure that you are properly refueling and getting plenty of sleep. Unless you have other obligations, unless you are training you should be resting/recovering, or doing light activity.

The rest of it will be mental. You HAVE to believe, and be able to tell yourself "I got this". As soon as you start saying to yourself "Wow, never gonna make it!", you won't. Visualize it. See it in your head, believe it or it will never happen.

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    Yes. Don't only practice your target distance and try bring its time down. Also run at your target speed (4:40 / km) or even a bit faster, and try to increase the length of time you can run that long.
    – user4644
    Jan 3, 2013 at 17:03

I would suggest:

1) If you don't have one, get a good heart rate monitor and learn how to train with it. Work out your anaerobic and lactate thresholds etc.

2) Find some local 5K/10K races. Having a target and some competition does miracles for motivation.

3) Try to improve running technique (assuming it's not already spot on). If you can afford it, do a few sessions with a running coach. This probably won't get you fitter (in the short term), but it should reduce your 2.4K time. If you can't afford a coach, there is a lot of material on the web and on youtube that you can look up.

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    A crucial factor to the question is the constraint "In less than a month and a half". I am not sure if the points in your answer address this short term need.
    – Baarn
    Jan 3, 2013 at 15:11
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    anaerobic and lactate threshold are basically the same thing. I also don't like using a downstream metric (heart rate) to measure an upstream effort, especially one that can be greatly influenced by external factors. Also there is no need for a running coach. Absent any gross mechanical defects, the overwhelming majority of runners self select the stride length and pattern that best suits them.
    – JohnP
    Jan 3, 2013 at 15:11
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    @Informaficker, I am not sure either. I am pointing out things he might not have thought about.
    – Dani D
    Jan 3, 2013 at 15:53
  • @Informaficker, why do you have to be so rude to new users? He was offering some valid points.
    – Kenshin
    Jan 6, 2013 at 17:20

The following is an 8-week program from one of the best running coaches in the US:Hal Higdon's 5K Novice. Of course, you need to run a shorter distance, and you do not have 8 weeks, but this program might still be useful.

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