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Running to breaking point? The relationship between 1.5-mile run time and injury risk in female recruits during British Army basic training
  1. Rosalie Heller1 and
  2. H Stammers2
  1. 1 Medical Reception Station, Army Training Centre Pirbright, Pirbright, UK
  2. 2 Primary Care Rehabilitation Facility, Army Training Centre Pirbright, Pirbright, UK
  1. Correspondence to Rosalie Heller, Poynatts Cottage, Henley-on-Thames, OXON, RG9 6TG, UK; rosalieheller{at}


Introduction The 1.5-mile best-effort run is used in the British Army to assess the fitness of all recruits and trained service personnel by means of the physical fitness assessment (PFA). The 1.5-mile run is a basic measure of fitness and slower times have been associated with an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury (MSkI), particularly during this early stage of training. The aim of this study was to establish whether 1.5-mile run times were associated with subsequent MSkIs among female recruits during their 14-week basic training.

Method Retrospective data were analysed from female recruits who had undertaken basic military training between June 2016 and October 2017. This included retrieving the results of their week 1 PFA; recording the type, cause and week of MSkI if they had sustained one; and noting down their outcome from basic training. Run times were statistically analysed in relation to MSkI occurrence of 227 female recruits using binomial logistic regression with an accepted alpha level of p value <0.05.

Results 1.5-mile run time predicted risk of MSkI (χ2 (1)=12.91, p<0.0005) in female recruits. The mean run time for injury-free recruits was faster than for injured recruits (12 min 13 s compared with 12 min 43 s). Every 10 s increase in run time was associated with an 8.3% increase in risk of injury.

Conclusion Slower 1.5-mile best-effort run time, as a surrogate of aerobic fitness, is associated with increased risk of MSkI in female recruits during basic training.

  • musculoskeletal injury
  • military training
  • preventative medicine
  • sports medicine
  • military medicine

Statistics from


  • Contributors RH was the lead on data collection, analysis and discussion. HJS provided support and guidance regarding data collection and analysis and proof-read the publication.

  • Funding Both authors are employed by the British Army. No additional funding from external sources was given to conduct the study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for retrospective data retrieval and analysis was obtained from the Caldicott Guardian at ATC Pirbright Medical Treatment Facility (MTF).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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