Whether preparing for a competitive race or a military physical fitness test, improving your run time is absolutely possible. To run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes, you must maintain a 6:40 pace. While this is much faster than a leisurely jog, it is a manageable goal with the right training program. Success at the 1.5 mile distance requires speed work, endurance and the desire to run five days a week with determination and dedication.
Before you can improve your speed, you must improve your endurance. This is accomplished through the long, slow distance run, or LSD. For competitive runners, the pace for an LSD is one to two minutes slower than their race pace for at least twice the mileage of their race distance. Mike Ricci, a USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach, says that the key to LSDs is repeatability. LSDs should be run at a pace that allows you to maintain conversation, and should not be so taxing that you cannot repeat the workout the following day. LSDs increase lung capacity, build muscle and prepare the body for the stress of running faster for shorter distances.
LSDs can program the body to run a certain speed. For this reason, many runners who do not include speed work in their training programs find that they have the same pace for 1.5 miles and 5 miles. Former Navy SEAL and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Stew Smith suggests interval training as the ideal speed work platform. Interval training involves sprinting a short distance, such as a quarter mile, followed by a recovery jog for a similar distance. The sprints are normally run at your goal pace, so for a 6:40 pace, you would aim to run a quarter mile in 1:40. Intervals should be repeated 10 to 12 times per session, two sessions per week.
Hill training taxes the body in a similar manner to interval training, but offers the additional benefit of muscle development. Hill training improves explosive power as it forces you to pump your arms, push off your rear foot and lift your knees. Both uphill and downhill runs target muscles in the legs that are often neglected during runs on flat ground, including the hamstrings and quadriceps. This translates to additional muscles that can be called on during a fast 1.5-mile run. Like speed work, you should aim to run as fast as possible uphill while using the downhills as recovery.
Explosive strength training includes exercises such as one leg hops, box jumps and leg presses. According to a 1999 study in the "Journal of Applied Physiology," endurance athletes who included explosive strength training in their programs improved their 5k times, running economy and maximum velocity without compromising their VO2 maxes. In other words, explosive strength training made the athletes faster without disrupting their endurance bases. Long-distance running recruits slow-twitch muscle fibers while explosive strength training targets fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are crucial to running fast for short distances, such as 1.5 miles. Including explosive strength training in your training program can also alleviate boredom and prevent overuse injuries.