One of my tasks in this sprint was to run a Cooper test in order to define my starting level. I wanted to know where I’m at in the beginning of my journey so that I can follow-up my progress both in increasing the distance and my fitness. My ambition is that in next May I’m able to both run the Marathon and improve my Cooper result : )
Why Cooper test then?
I decided use this as my follow-up measure as one can run it without any specific equipment or help. There are also other ways to measure your running / aerobic condition which also give you much more accurate information of your hearth rate levels etc. (e.g. Coconi test, Bicycle ergometer test etc.). But for me the Cooper is just enough, it gives good enough result and it’s easily repeatable several times during my project.
As a interesting background fact, I had never ran Cooper before. In high school it was only for boys and us ladies just ran 1500m. And until now I haven’t’ had need / interest to measure my running condition from this point of view – I have been mainly focusing to follow-up the distance and time I’m able to run. Thus this is my first result and I’m not having any history to compare my result with. That’s naturally unfortunate as it would have been interesting to have some history to compare where I’m at today : ) Luckily this is not a problem as all as whole idea of Cooper is that the results are comparable to general recommendations and results in your age group. A table exists that classifies all results from specific age groups into a specific fitness levels. From this table you can check how your results compares to others and thus you get guidance are you e.g. on Good or perhaps on Excellent condition. Also it helps you to define your self a target e.g. next time you want to reach level “very good”.
From the following table you can check Cooper test result definitions:
(Source: Wikipedia. In addition several running books and magazines refer to the same table)
How to run a Cooper test?
Then to the details of Cooper itself. Idea of the Cooper test is to run 12min as fast as you can. Recommendation is to run as evenly as possible, but still running on your maximum capacity. The distance that you are able to reach in 12min is your final result. This is also the result that you can find from the above table.
As mentioned, test is fairly simple to perform: only thing you need is a timer (e.g. phone) and way to measure distance. Best way to get accurate distance measure is to run the test on near by sports field. This helps to standardize the conditions (e.g. no up or downhills) and you also get very specific result due to having metrics on the track it self. If you don’t have sports field near by you, it’s also possible to use other means to measure the distance. E.g. Sports tracker app or sports watch have distance measurement in them that give close enough result. They are not 100% accurate though so thus I’m recommending to use the sports field if anyhow possible!
My Cooper Test result
My own Cooper result was 2060m which according to the table is “Average”. I did my test on sports field and I counted having ran the field 5 times. And when my timer rang, I ad started my sixth round and paused on 60m line which gives me result of 5 x 400m + 60m = 2060m in total.
My tip for running a Cooper test is to practice / test it out a bit in advance. When running it for the first time, it’s difficult to evaluate what is your realistic speed. I myself for example started a bit too slow and then speeded up during the latter part. Risk is also that you start too fast and then are completely dead even before the half of the journey which might give a bit wrong picture of your actual running condition.
But, now I have my starting level defined which is very existing. It’s interesting to see where it develops during my 365 day journey. Though improving my cooper test result is not my main goal (my main goal is increasing the distance all the way to marathon) it still gives a nice indication during my journey that how I’m I doing and improving. And I believe that training towards marathon will also improve my performance in Cooper. Additionally I’m never very keen on being on “Average” category so this is one more motivator for me to stick in my project and improve my running potential ; )