Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Coopers Test

The "Coopers Test" is a test of physical fitness. According to Wikipedia, It was designed by Kenneth H. Cooper in 1968 for military use. The objective of the test is to run for 12 minutes and determine your fitness status by looking at the distance completed (based on your age and gender).

Running 12 minutes is very tricky. If you start off the test with a sprinting run, you'll burn out quickly and will not be able to keep the pace. If you run too slowly, you will not achieve a good distance in the alloted 12 minutes. So the key to running this successfully is to keep a nice and constant pace that can see you through the 12 minutes.

The following table is a guide to determine your fitness level based on the distance completed in the 12 minutes.

Cooper test (Athletes & Juniors)
AgeVery goodGoodAverageBadVery bad
13-14M2700+ m2400 - 2700 m2200 - 2399 m2100 - 2199 m2100- m
F2000+ m1900 - 2000 m1600 - 1899 m1500 - 1599 m1500- m
15-16M2800+ m2500 - 2800 m2300 - 2499 m2200 - 2299 m2200- m
F2100+ m2000 - 2100 m1700 - 1999 m1600 - 1699 m1600- m
17-20M3000+ m2700 - 3000 m2500 - 2699 m2300 - 2499 m2300- m
F2300+ m2100 - 2300 m1800 - 2099 m1700 - 1799 m1700- m
20-29M2800+ m2400 - 2800 m2200 - 2399 m1600 - 2199 m1600- m
F2700+ m2200 - 2700 m1800 - 2199 m1500 - 1799 m1500- m
30-39M2700+ m2300 - 2700 m1900 - 2299 m1500 - 1899 m1500- m
F2500+ m2000 - 2500 m1700 - 1999 m1400 - 1699 m1400- m
40-49M2500+ m2100 - 2500 m1700 - 2099 m1400 - 1699 m1400- m
F2300+ m1900 - 2300 m1500 - 1899 m1200 - 1499 m1200- m
50+M2400+ m2000 - 2400 m1600 - 1999 m1300 - 1599 m1300- m
F2200+ m1700 - 2200 m1400 - 1699 m1100 - 1399 m1100- m

Since I fall in the 40-49 age bracket and I am a male, I need to run more than 2500 meters to get the "Very Good" grade. Based on my run data that I post regularly to Nike website, I knew this was possible; if I increased the tempo of my runs.

I decided to give this test a try. To prepare for the run, I stopped running for 2 days to ensure that my body is fully rested. I went early morning on Saturday and did a nice 30 minute warm-up run. There were no aches and pains anywhere, so I decided to give it a shot. I hit the treadmill at 14kph and started my run.

Once I crossed 8 minutes, I knew I could hold the pace for the remaining 4 minutes, and perhaps even increase it in the last 2 minutes. And that is exactly what I did. I increased the speed to around 14.5 after 10 minutes, and really let it go in the last minute by cranking the speed up to 15kph.

How did I do?


That distance is good enough to get the "Very Good" grade even if I was half-my age. That is just incredible. I am patting myself with self-congratulatory taps and high-fiving imaginary friends.

The run did come with a very harsh lesson. Since I was using my iPhone 3GS to time the run and the distance, I needed to shut it down exactly at 12 minutes. The iPhone is a touch-screen device and it has no hardware buttons to act as a stop-watch. This mean I need to swipe the keyboard to unlock it, and then hit the stop button. It would be quite dangerous to do something like this while running at 15kph, so I decided to stop the treadmill (instead of gradually reducing the speed). Big Mistake!!. The sudden deceleration messed up my head. I could see things slowly going dark. Instinct made me hit the speed button on the treadmill so that I could start walking again and I slowly started walking again. It felt like I was in some kind of a dream and when I opened my eyes, I had no idea where I was and what I was doing there. It took me a few seconds to realize what happened. I was this close to falling over from the treadmill.

If I am to do this test again, I will only do with with someone else timing me - and after ensuring that he/she has an oxygen pack handy.

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