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I need to pass a fitness test that involves being able to run X distance in Y minutes. I've never done any running before (have always hated it, when I've had to for school, etc.), so I'm well and truly a beginner. I've done some research online regarding proper posture, training regimes, etc. The posture stuff seemed relevant and interesting, but most of the training advice seems geared at people with more experience and who have long term goals/plans for running. I just need to pass this test.

On a treadmill, I'm doing 10km/hour right now and lasting about 1.5ks (~9 minutes). I guess my questions are:

  • Should I focus on distance or time first? i.e. would it be better to keep the 10km/hour rate and try and last longer and longer (i.e. stretching that 9 minutes out until I can keep going for longer) and then try to go faster, or try and go faster until I hit my target speed and then try last longer?
  • Is there any harm to running every day? Assuming unlimited time and motivation (ha! neither are unlimited, but I'm going to try...), if I run every day is that great or is that just going to be counter productive? (i.e. I do weights training, and for that, training every day is a bad idea because you need to give your muscles time to rest. General recommendations are no more than 2-3 times a week).
  • I run on a treadmill in a gym, because it's comfortable, and the scientist in me likes analyzing data (i.e. I like seeing exactly how many meters I ran, how long I'm running for, what my heart rate is, etc). How well does running on a treadmill translate to real life running? Is it okay to stick to the treadmill or should I really get onto a real running track asap?
  • My limit seems mostly cardio related, and not muscle related. I.e. when I have to stop, it's because I'm out of breath, and not so much because my legs are tired. My legs were a bit sore after the first run, but haven't been since. Are there any other supporting exercises I can do that will help with cardio, or is just running itself the best I'm going to get?
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Since you are a scientist you should structure your runs so that they match your fitness test. For example, the training needed to run 42k in 3 hours is much different than running 5k in 16 minutes. A marathon runner has one goal and 100m Sprinter has another goal. You can't train the same for both distances.

I am assuming the distance you need to run is "Shorter" probably 1k to 2k? Since we are assuming that you have to run a "Shorter" distance I would focus on building your speed and stamina using a 5k training plan. There are many 5k training plans that will get you to a goal is 8 weeks and most of these plan involve running at least 4 days a week.

You should do at least one speed workout that involves running fast for a certain distance then a short recovery. Try starting with 400m in 2 minutes or less, then walk for one minute. If you goal is only speed then do this twice a week with easy runs in between. Start with 6x400m and work up from there as you feel better

Your easy day runs should be a 5k run and try to finish. Theoretically should should finish in 30 minutes.

Try to do one run on the weekend that is 60 minutes. In the beginning you will walk/run but at your current pace you should finish 10k in one hour.

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