Get lighter


 I'm applying to join the forces and have started getting fit to do so. I used to run a 6 minute mile, however since then I haved played a lot of rugby and done a lot of weights, I now run 7.5 minute mile even after lots of training.

 I'd like to lose about 1.5 stone of muscle, does anyone have any advice on how best to do this without losing too much fitness??


  • James, which service are you looking to join?

    When you say you run a 7.5 minute mile are you saying you can run 1 mile at that pace, or 10 miles at that pace?

    If you train regularly I don't think you'll have a problem anyway. Whichever service you're looking to get into will give you a pre-joining training programme and tell you want the fitness testing criteria is during and post training. The RAF for example use the Cooper test (also known as the beep test) and depending on age you have to get to a certain level, followed by press ups and sit ups. You also need to do a mile and a half inside 12mins during initial training.

    Hope that helps

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    I had to do a mile and a half inside nine and a half minutes!  Times have changed...

    Back to OP.  Why do you want to lose 1.5 stone of muscle??  I've been running distance for a reasonable while now and find it difficult to lose muscle weight.  I'm sure it's slowly fading away, but fibres don't seem to un-hypertrophy (hypotrophy? distrophy?) that easily.  What you certainly don't want to do is lose fibres themselves, because you don't get them back.  But, what I have done is become a lot quicker at my fighting weight.

    Switch the way you train to endurance methods.  High rep / low weight in the gym and long, slow runs outside.  Just don't try anything drastic like low-carb diets or lying in bed for a week!

  • Thanks Colin, applying for the Marines. I run 7.5 min miles for 6 miles. and have to do my first 1.5 miles in 12:30 and my second 1.5 miles has to be best effort in under 10:30.

     Ratzer, 9:30 are you a para? Thanks for the advice, I'd assumed that I was struggling because I'm 2 stone heavier than when I was in the TA and doing a lot more running much faster than I do now.

  • Don't the Marines do an intro package whereby you go to Lympstone for a few days so you can have a look at them and they can get a look at you? I'm sure the Paras and most of the Army infantry regiments do something like that. It's their way of giving you a taste of the training to come and both parties can decide if either have want the other has to offer.

  • Thanks for the advice, if you are referring to the PRMC (Potential Royal Marines Course) thats a compulsary part of the application process as is selection for the Army at ADSC or the PRAC for the Para's. However I'm not some youth wondering what to do with my life, I already have a trade and was in the TA for a few years so have a rough idea of what to expect.

     Any advice on developing my endurance and speed would be greatly appreciated?

  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    Increasing endurance and speed is as simple as getting out there and doing it. (Running that is).

    Endurance is easy, just increase your long slow run by no more than 10% each week. Back off every 4th week.
    5m; 5.5m; 6m; 6.5m; 5m; 6.5; 7m; 7.5m; etc
    Even at 18 miles plus I only incease my LSR by .5 mile and not 2 miles.

    Speed - Intervals and tempo runs.

    "Tempo runs The purpose of a tempo run is to mimic the race itself, but not the whole race. These runs improve racing form and mental concentration while teaching you to stay relaxed and hold a strong pace for several minutes. A tempo run is continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A tempo run of 30 to 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to peak speed during the next 10-20 minutes, and then finish with 5-10 minutes easy running. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for those few minutes mentioned above. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track. Tempo runs should not be punishing. You should finish refreshed."


  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    No, not a para.  Many many years ago I entered the RAF.  The Cranwell test was similar to what Colin describes, but no-one had ever heard of a beep test back then.  The run was done after the push ups and sit ups and the rest, but was PE kit only, no carrying.  6:20 miles for 1.5 miles in PE kit only is not really a problem!

    As to increasing your endurance and speed, it's hard to prescribe because you're already obviously fit, but how fit and in what way?  What do you do to train?  6 miles in 45 mins is very good, about 46:40 for a 10k.  But training for a 10k is slightly different to training for 3 miles or 5k, especially if that 3 miles is split (is it?).  Also, when you run 6 miles in 45 mins, are you racing, ending the distance gulping for air with weak legs?  Or is it fairly steady and easy?

    Have you a deadline?

    Endurance training takes a little while to have an effect, but will probably have the greatest initial impact on your ability to maintain a higher speed over distance.  The simplest way to endurance train in running is to go longer, but slower.  During each run you should be able to hold a conversation, otherwise you are going too fast to have much benefit.  The forum won't be able to offer how much or how often without knowing what you're doing at the moment.

  • Thanks for the advice, I done a 10k in cardiff about 2 months ago. I finished it in 47 minutes but was able to flat-out sprint the last 400m (I set a bad pace, I think it was because I was running with a friend).

    I run 3 times a week at the moment I do a steady pace 6m in around 50mins it feel quite relaxed,

    a 3m interval circuit-1m warm up then 1min steady pace/30sec sprint for 2 miles

    and a 2m best effort in around 15mins.

     It's the 2 mile best effort that I've been trying to improve, I used to run it around 12mins when I was lighter which is why I assumed that weight loss was the key.

    I also do a lot of circuit training and weights, Plyometrics and sprint work.

     It sounds like hitting the road is the way forward.

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    Ok, your race pace for 10k is 7:30 mins/mile.  Worth tucking your time into a pace calculator like this one.  This will give you predicted times for other distances, but moreover will give you approximate training paces.  One of the predictions shows that your 6m in 50mins running is too fast for endurance training.  As easy as it feels now, you have to slow down more to benefit.  All of your other work is hard, and you need to reduce it or change it to favour endurance exercise.  Most of it is not just retaining your muscle and weight, but increasing it slowly.  At the very least reducing the loads will allow blood vessels to shrink, reduce water retention in the muscles, and you'll see a little bit of weight drop.  Drop the sprint work initially, including your 3 mile circuit, to replace it with more slow miles.  Keep the circuit training and weights with lower loads, higher reps, and keep the plyometrics.  If you want to do something fast when you're out running, try fartlek (speed play) where you vary your speeds to landmarks or up and down hills, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but keep the fartlek as a reasonably long total run.

    It will be very interesting to see if you can make the change, but still it would help to know exactly what you're heading for and when.  The speedy stuff can be brought back in, but you need more structure to it anyway.  Also, don't let me take you away from any necessary strength/whole body work which you will need for when you get into the marines!

  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭

    If you have to run 2 * 1.5m with a gap in between then I agree with most of the advice with one exception.

    I would suggest you try a fortnightly 3k pace session.  This shouldn't be a hard lactic inducing session, they can be a relatively short distance but a session that challenges your ability to hold pace.  This can progress to a 1500m pace session.  You don't get your best times over distances shorter of 3k by just relying on longer upper aerobic work.

    I would also take the advice regarding fartlek - or at the very least add strides to the majority of your runs.

    Tempo runs don't help your basic speed at all - they are used to develop the ability to extend pace over a distance (although they will improve average pace over a distance).  They will help your performance for the test but won't help develop your sub-3k speed.

    If the answer to the first sentence is yes (2 separate runs) and you'd like some specific exercises let me know.  It would also be useful to know your time scale.

  • Nice one fella's, thats a lot of information to take in but it's helping me come up with an effective training plan.

    Moraghan: It's 2 1.5m runs with 1min rest in between, the first section is run at 8min/m pace the second is best effort. It's this that I'd like to get down to about 17mins.

     Thanks, much appreciated

  • RatzerRatzer ✭✭✭

    Aha!  Looks like the purpose is to get you warm, allow you a slight recovery, then see how well you perform tired.  You're in luck!  At 8:00 pace you should be fresh as a daisy after 1.5miles, so your real test is the second 1.5 and that's really what you're training for.  It might have been the case that your recovery was being tested, but with what you have already I think you're fit enough to treat that first 1.5 as a decent warm up (slight exaggeration, but barely).  So, being as you're really racing 1.5m, you're really needing Moraghan's expertise as he knows his stuff.

    You will need pace.  Not sprinting speed, but the ability to hold a fast pace without tipping over into major burn (inability to get enough air, vomiting...).

  • fishfirefishfire ✭✭✭
    The booties use the same system the Army had a few years back.
    Mile and a half squadded run in under 15 mins followed directly by a mile and a half best effort run in under 10.5 Mins.
    I did the all arms commando course in 2006, and this test had to be done in T-Shirt, combats and boots, followed by five over grasp heaves and 50 sit ups in under 2 mins.

    From my experience at CTCRM, running endurance, over speed, and upper body strength (especially for the Bottom Field!) are essential. As long as you can achieve a basic standard of fitness you should be fine, as the bootie PTi's will build you up.

    Some good advice here, best of luck with it and just remember....whatever they chuck at you, just keep smiling

    "Cheerfulness in adversity"

  • MoraghanMoraghan ✭✭✭


    How long do you have before your test?

  • At least 6 months, only just applying.
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