Fit or what?

Am I kidding myself about my level of fitness?

19 messages
17/06/2005 at 08:25
I recently enroled on a free course called "health for life" run by the local council. It's a basic course on the different aspects of physical fitness. Anyhow...you are required to keep a daily diary of any excercise you engage in. Before you do this though you are asked to pick one of several stamina tests to complete which you repeat six weeks later, obviously to see if you are getting fitter! One of the tests is called the "Cooper twelve minute run". Basically you run for twelve minutes and make a note of how far you get and then repeat it six weeks later to see if you have improved. However there are five ratings given relating to how far you get in those twelve minutes. These are:
Excellent: above 1.75 miles
Good: 1.56 - 1.75 miles
Average: 1.43 - 1.56 miles
Poor: 1.43 - 1.37 miles
Very poor: below 1.37 miles
Now as an average 9 minute miler this puts me in the "very poor" catagory!
To make matters worse I double checked it by running on a treadmill for 12 minutes to see how far I got, my 2.0 km is in the Very poor: below 2200 metres catagory. Now I know I am no racing snake, but I have run several marathons, 1/2 marathons 10ks etc and ran what I thought were decent times for my age (49 yrs) of 4:22 for the marathon, and 52 minutes for a 10k, but according to this course I am lucky I can get off the starting block!!! When doing the 12 minute test by the way, they state that you can "walk, jog or run, or a combination of these." This course is for general Joe public but according to the course to get an average score in the test you have to be an 8 minute miler at least!!
17/06/2005 at 08:34
Shame its a free course - you could have used this load of bollox as evidence to demand your money back!

If you have sufficient stamina to keep going for over four hours then you're well above average fitness wise (but then you knew that!)
17/06/2005 at 08:37
You can run a mile in 9 minutes, which is admittedly not that quick, but you can also keep it going for about 10 times longer than most people. Such couch potatoes as Steve Redgrave would probably be in that category too, so I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it.
17/06/2005 at 08:37
CumbriAndy - is "load of bollox" a technical term?
17/06/2005 at 08:38
Tmap - thanks for those few kind words!
17/06/2005 at 08:41
Somewhere between that and self righteous indignation! :)
17/06/2005 at 08:48
Just put my mind at rest, am I fit or what!!!
17/06/2005 at 08:52
Actually - you remind me of when I was at school in a Physics lesson, and we did an experiment to measure our power output by running upstairs and taking into account our weight.

So even though I ran up quickest, I was the skinniest and therefore the least powerful, and the teacher made some patronising remark about us "non-athletic types". Grrrr...

17/06/2005 at 08:57
In my opinion - if you can run marathons then you are very fit. Similarly, 52 mins for 10k is more than respectable and requires a high level of fitness. Apologies for any confusion.

The 'load of bollox' I was referring to is the implication that there is a single universal measure for fitness based upon your pace over a relatively short period of time. There's been an ongoing debate for some time as to whether or not the finishers at the front of a race are any 'fitter' than those towards the back or whether they are simply better suited physiologically to covering the distance.
17/06/2005 at 08:58
I suppose it's all relative this fitness lark.
17/06/2005 at 09:00
Wow - I'm going to lay down in a dark room and contemplate my navel!
The Evil Pixie    pirate
17/06/2005 at 09:03
Mr A I must be fitter than you cos I can do a mara in 6hrs 46!

The same figures are quoted in the Fit 2 Run course that gives a national qualification
again it's free
done my newscastle college and offered via "The Great ..." races such and GNR and GSR
which means that they are racognised measurements and standards but it does not mean you aren't fit

The fastest I have ever done a mile in is 10.30 and that was just once
i'm doing a similar course to this (to help motivate me to lose weight) but mine (with Loughborough college) just says do a test and repeat no time scale (eg the 12mins) or assesment of your speed
it's purely a "Have you improved?" thing which is what it is all about really
17/06/2005 at 09:09
Me thinks I will be having a word with the course tutor...
17/06/2005 at 09:21
Hi all, running for 12 minutes is no real test of what I consider to be 'real fitness' - it is your aerobic fitness that counts. If you can run a marathon then you must have a good level of aerobic fitness. I bet that most of the people who blast it for 12 minutes would have no chance of doing a 10k at similar level.

Being fit can mean anything anyway. Was Linford Christie fit when he won the 100metres gold medal? - damn right he was, but could he have run a marathon in a decent time - probably not.

I get more satisfaction out of my aerobic level of fitness than anything else.

I would use the following test as a guage to your fitness and how it is improving.

1. Get a heart rate monitor.
2. Run 5k on a track at bang on 70%MHR
3. Note the time it takes you.
2. Repeat the above every 4-6 weeks.

As fitness improves your should run the 5k quicker at the same heart rate.

17/06/2005 at 10:03
I know a really fit bird, and she can't run 20 yards :-)
17/06/2005 at 10:08
The Cooper test is a standard VO2max prediction test. Although your VO2max can be said to represent your level of fitness, it should be rated depending on your age. You can probably find one that rates you according to your age if you google around. Having said that, your VO2max is what it is, and supposedly can only be trained by about 20%, so surely it's the improvement over the course that is more important, rather than its absolute value.
17/06/2005 at 10:15
According to this, 2k for a 49 year old male puts you in the average category. To get into above average you'd have to run 100m further or wait one year :)
17/06/2005 at 10:23
A couple of points. First, there are a lot of inaccurate V02 max calculators out there, but an accurate calculation is less straightforward.

Second, Vo2 max results tend to be seriously misinterpreted (not least as a measure of potential) because they do not take running economy into account. A lower Vo2 max combined with outstanding running economy will produce better times (in general) than a higher Vo2 max and poor running form.

So pursuit of improved Vo2 max on its own as a predictor of likely improvement (in fitness, or otherwise) is plain wrong. Frank Shorter is always used as the best example of a world class runner who did not have a particularly high Vo2 max.

(For those who want more details in general, source: Noakes).
17/06/2005 at 10:58
Foo Bar - Brian Mackenzie's site is very good, I'll refer the tutor to the site. It will be interesting to see where the course sourced the tables they use in their material.

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