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  • Writer's pictureLTC Brechin, USAF, Ret.

Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA): the One Mile Run

Updated: Feb 12

After five events, you will need to dig deep to run the CFA mile well!

Candidate running the CFA one-mile run

The Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) for the U.S. service academies finishes with the one mile run. After 30 minutes allotted for the kneeling basketball throw, pull-ups, shuttle run, sit-ups, and push-ups, a candidate will likely be winded. Now, you start running one mile. For men, the average time is about 6:31, and for women, the average time is about 7:38. These times, for most candidates training for the CFA, should be your initial target for your CFA results.

The official instructions for the CFA mile run are:

  • Run continuously for one mile (walking is allowed although strongly discouraged).

Plus, your examiner / scorer will be asked to:

  • Certify the 1-mile run distance.

  • Note the start time (as it should be 30:00 elapsed since the beginning of the assessment)

  • Give the command "GO" and start a stopwatch.

  • Monitor the candidate to make sure that he/she does not:

    • Receive physical help during the event.

    • Leave the designated running course for any reason.

    • Receive pacing by another person.

  • Stop the watch as the candidate crosses the finish line, and record the score in minutes and seconds.

So, let's discuss how you should be preparing for, performing and continuing your running efforts.


First, make sure you have the right shoes. That is, running shoes that fit well and work with your particular stride and foot strike. I recommend that my students head over to a local 'running store' that specializes in running shoes and other athletics. Typically, the shops will have employees who are runners themselves, and they can provide good advice about the type of shoe that you should use.

With a good pair of shoes, you then must initiate a running routine. Two types of running are advisable: interval training and long distance training.

First, use interval training to help improve your running times. Try interval training once a week using speed repeats. For example, on a track, you might run several 200-meter sprints (i.e., a half lap) or 400-meter sprints (i.e., a full lap) with a short recovery between each effort. The workout is pretty straightforward. After warming up with some slow running, alternate between running hard for 200 or 400 meters and then easy jogging or walking for the same distance to recover. If you're doing 200-meter repeats, start with six intervals and try to work your way up to eight to ten intervals (or repeats). For 400-meter intervals, start with two or three repeats (with a recovery lap in between each), and try to work your way up to five to six repeats. You may try the same over a neighborhood run, marking a limited distance to speed up your pace, and then slow it back to a jog as you recover. Repeat the speed intervals throughout your run.

As noted previously, the CFA requires a participant to complete the push-ups and then start running the one-mile event, eight minutes later. You should build the stamina now to make this transition successfully! I recommend to my students to run about 10 miles per week, three miles at a time, plus the additional one-mile interval training. Map a few neighborhood courses that will allow you to run about three miles each time. The variety will make the runs a bit more interesting and provide some variance for your training.


Running and the ability to sustain a long run will be an important part of your performance on the CFA and at the Academy. The stamina to keep up with the pace of cadet/midshipman daily life and the pace of a run are critical to your success. It is the commitment you must make to be a professional military officer.

Your running routines must truly be "routine." I often hear that students don't have the time to train, and I respond that they must find the time. Often, a 5:30 am run works very well -- remember, mind over mattress! Making the successful transition from push-ups to the one-mile run over a short eight minute period depends on your solid training for the CFA. Find the time to train, or you will regret failing the CFA.

To meet the performance requirements for the one-mile run. Keep the following running times in mind . . .

  • Women - averages are around 7:38 with a maximum score for a 6:00 mile time. Failing times are likely around 10:15 or slower (and please do not take this estimate as the 'official' standard)

  • Men - averages are around 6:20 with a maximum score for a 5:20 mile time. Failing times are likely around 8:15 or greater (but do not take this estimate as an 'official' standard).


I tell students that the "CFA is a beginning, not an end." Being a good runner is critical training for cadets, midshipmen and military officers. After you complete the CFA in the fall of your senior year, don't stop running. Instead, continue to train to improve your running times and distances.

The CFA itself is an important step in the application process for the U.S. service academies, and your ability to run is a key component. Train now to prepare, then perform, and finally continue your running routine.

Best of luck with your training!

[I would welcome a chance to discuss details with you. I offer coaching services to pace and prepare you (and your parents!) for the entire Academy application process, including the CFA and the one-mile run! Contact me at chris@cbbrechin.com, 503.515.7406 or complete my contact form on the home page.]


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