Run Your 1.5 Mile PST Faster

Cody Wright

October 10, 2019


The minimum standard for the timed 1.5-mile run is generally around 12 minutes. But if you want to have a realistic shot at getting through Rescue Swimmer School or any of the special operation schools in the other branches, you’re going to want to be at least in the 9s and the most competitive candidates will be sub 9. Be aware, sub 9 isn’t realistic for many candidates, this is where genetics starts to play a role. I think it is realistic to get anyone reading this into the 10s given you have the determination and willingness to put in the hours required.


There are endless philosophies on run training and I want to cut through all of this and give you what you really need. Before let me preface this by highlight the importance of developing a strong baseline level of fitness before doing the higher intensity running. I like to use a lot of interval running at a pace slightly faster than the goal run pace, this creates a strong likelihood of injury if you haven’t put in the groundwork.


So, what is the groundwork required?


You need to think about your run goal in the form of a pyramid. At the base, you need to build up a foundation of distance at an easy run pace. This base varies depending on the distance you’re going to be tested at and we’ll think of this base as an approximate distance rather than a specific amount of mileage. The goal of building this base is the increase work capacity of your muscles through increased ability to product ATP through your aerobic metabolism, this is the result of increase in mitochondrial mass, capillary density and an increase in cardiac output. With the goal of improving 1.5-mile time, this is accomplished through 2-5 mile runs at a pace that would allow you to have a conversation while running. If you’re going harder than that, you aren’t getting the benefit of developing your aerobic system! So, if you’re looking for somewhere to start. Use the next few weeks to start developing your aerobic base. Go for 4-6 runs this week at an easy pace for 3-6 miles.


After this baseline fitness level is established, you can start to work in some speed work that will result in huge gains to your run time. This is higher up on the period, meaning you need much less of this style of training. I usually implement the speed work in the form of ¼ mile and 200-meter sprints. Note, this training is nuanced and can vary between individuals depending on your body type, how much you’re seeking to lower your time by and how far out from your goal PT test you are. Assuming you’re a couple months out from your goal test, you want to work for the first month on building your baseline, then use the last 2-3 weeks to ramp up the speed work to maximize your fitness gains for the test. Like I mentioned earlier, interval workouts just below your goal pace at ¼ and 200-meter distances are essential. This is exactly the training style I used while prepping for rescue swimmer school and I was able to consistently run at or below 9 minutes for every test. An example workout for a 9-minute pace would be 8x400 at around a 5:50 min/mile pace with 1-3 minutes rest, depending on the day and goal. For interval workouts you want to give your body sufficient time to rest in order to allow for the for a near full recovery of your anaerobic system.


I want to stress how maximizing your run time varies largely on your current fitness level and your predisposed body type. I encourage you to DM via Instagram or email me at if you have any specific questions. 

Run Faster with Rescue Swimmer Mindset