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Running (Army PRT)

Running serves a fundamental purpose in soldier training: to improve their overall physical conditioning, primarily focusing on endurance development.

Aerobic vs. anaerobic endurance

Endurance, a vital aspect of a soldier’s physical fitness, spans a spectrum:

1. Aerobic Endurance

  • Definition: It’s the ability to perform at low to moderate intensity for extended durations.
  • Development: Long-duration, moderately strenuous activities help to develop this type of endurance. 

2. Anaerobic Endurance

  • Definition: It refers to the ability to conduct high-intensity activities in short bursts, followed by rest, and then repetition.
  • Importance: Although aerobic training is essential, an analysis of the physical demands of WTBDs (Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills) suggests a more significant emphasis on anaerobic endurance. This is crucial, as battlefield scenarios often require short bursts of intense physical activity.

Holistic endurance training

A comprehensive endurance training regimen is essential to ensure that soldiers are well-equipped for the varied physical challenges of their roles. This should encompass:

  • Speed Running: Focuses on enhancing sprinting capability and anaerobic fitness.
  • Sustained Running: Aims to build long-term stamina and aerobic endurance.
  • Foot Movement Under Load: This prepares soldiers for situations where they might need to move quickly while carrying equipment or other loads.

These running activities can either be undertaken individually or in a collective group setting, depending on the training objective.

Incorporation into Training Programs

  • To ensure the effective implementation of these running activities into the regular training regimen, Chapter 5: Planning Considerations offers a detailed template. 
  • This provides commanders and PRT leaders with the necessary guidance to integrate endurance and mobility activities seamlessly into their PRT programs.

Endurance and mobility activities

The following are endurance and mobility activities:

  • Military Movement Drills 1 and 2 (MMD 1&2)
  • 30:60s and 60:120s
  • 300-yard Shuttle Run (SR)
  • Hill Repeats (HR)
  • Ability Group Run (AGR)
  • Unit Formation Run (UFR)
  • Release Run (RR)
  • Terrain Run (TR)
  • Foot March (FM)
  • Conditioning Obstacle Course (CDOC)
  • Endurance Training Machines (ETM)

1. Movement Drills

Military Movement Drills 1 and 2 (MMD 1 and 2)

  • Purpose: These drills dynamically prepare the body for more vigorous running activities and aim to develop motor efficiency.

2. Running Activities

30:60s and 60:120s

  • Objective: The drills enhance a soldier’s resistance to muscle fatigue through high-intensity activities. This leads to increased anaerobic and aerobic endurance, allowing soldiers to sustain physically demanding tasks at higher intensities for extended periods.

300-yard Shuttle Run (SR)

  • Focus: This run aims to develop a soldier’s ability to repeatedly sprint after changing direction. It’s a key indicator of the soldier’s anaerobic endurance, speed, and agility.

Hill Repeats (HR)

  • Goal: Hill repeats work towards developing explosive leg strength, anaerobic power, and speed.

Ability Group Run (AGR)

  • Aim: It trains soldiers in groups based on their capabilities, emphasizing the improvement in aerobic endurance.

Unit Formation Run (UFR)

  • Objective: These runs are planned around a time and distance achievable with unit integrity, showcasing unit cohesion.

Release Run (RR)

  • Purpose: Combining formation running benefits with individual performance at higher intensities. Soldiers run in a formation for a specific time and are then released to run at their maximum capability.

Terrain Run (TR)

  • Aim: It adheres to the ‘Train as you will fight’ principle. Running through local training areas and around obstacles works on improving mobility, endurance, and directional changes.

3. Specialized Drills

Foot March (FM)

  • Significance: As a pivotal component of maneuver, foot marching is a critical physical requirement. Regular drills prepare soldiers to move under load efficiently.

Conditioning Obstacle Course (CDOC)

  • Objective: Running this course challenges soldiers’ strength, endurance, and mobility, enhancing individual movement techniques.

4. Equipment-based training

Endurance Training Machines (ETM)

  • Usage: They are employed based on environmental constraints, safety for soldiers based on their physical profile, or during rehabilitation to isolate specific muscle groups for intensive training.

Training Terrain

Various terrains are leveraged for running exercises, allowing soldiers to be prepared for the diverse environments they might encounter. These terrains include:

  • Hardball: This consists of both improved and unimproved roads.
  • Grassy Fields: open fields that offer softer terrain for joint-friendly exercise.
  • Tracks: defined paths, usually in circles, are ideal for measuring distance and speed.
  • Wooded Areas: Forested areas that provide unpredictable conditions promote agility.
  • Hills: elevated terrain that helps in building strength and stamina.
  • Tank Trails: Often rugged and challenging, these trails are meant to simulate real-life military scenarios.

Uniform Considerations

The appropriate uniform is crucial for both safety and practicality. The commander decides on the most suitable attire based on the specific running activity. Common PRT uniforms for running include:

  • IPFU: The standard physical fitness uniform
  • ACUs with Running Shoes: The Army Combat Uniform is paired with standard running shoes.
  • ACUs with Boots: Combining the ACU with the added weight and ankle support of boots
  • ACUs with Boots and Fighting Load: Adds the weight of a fighting load for more intensive training.

Essential Equipment

The right equipment ensures that running exercises are both effective and safe. Commonly used items, as per the installation’s safety policy, include:

  • Flashlights: useful for early morning or late evening runs.
  • Reflective Vests/Bands: Ensure visibility, especially crucial during low-light conditions.
  • Traffic cones are used to mark specific points or boundaries.
  • AGR Route Markers: These are placed at ¼-mile intervals to guide and inform runners of the distance covered.

It’s imperative for the PRT leader and AI (assistant instructor) to closely monitor run timing and pace to ensure optimal training outcomes.

Training Formations

Different running formations are employed based on the unit’s size and the training type. They include:

  • Squad Formation: The smallest unit formation
  • Platoon Formation: Consisting of multiple squads
  • Company Formation: Larger units that incorporate several platoons
  • Battalion Formation: The largest formation, encompassing multiple companies.

Terrain and speed running may require adaptations to these formations, depending on the training area and safety procedures in place.

The formation structure often takes into account both the training objective and the terrain’s suitability.

George N.