A new dimension

If you haven’t read the first article of the blog yet, I recommend reading it first. Now, the thing is, I feel at some level in the same situation as I was three and a half years ago. Outta shape has taken on a new dimension. I also recommend reading an article that defines a little bit of what being outta shape means. (Sorry, finnish only)

Ever since I started blogging, about 90% of my training has been bodyweight training and mobility training. The remaining ten percent have consisted of basic aerobic conditioning with low heart rates. I have practically not trained for muscle endurance at all. Now with the new coaching project I also wanted to include that in my training regimen for some time (with maximum strength training, which has also been very limited in my training).

The initial tests of the coaching program included the Cooper test, which is very familiar to us Finns. It is also a very painful experience.

Cooper test

I guess most people know what it’s all about, but for you who don’t know, there’s probably a little info in place.

Cooper Test was designed by former Air Force lieutenant American Kenneth H Cooper who needed a test to measure the condition of the soldiers. Cooper found that 12-minute running test was quite a good and inexpensive way to measure maximal oxygen uptake. The aim is simply to run for 12 minutes and get as far as possible. The table below gives a little bit of understanding about good and bad results.

Cooper’s test table ( Wikipedia )

Cooper’s test is apparently more common than average in Finland than in the rest of the world. Here we have run Cooper since elementary school and it still holds up in the military. What is a little worrying is the fact that in the 70s and 80s, the average result of recruits from the Cooper test was 2700m. In 2021, the corresponding result was 2376m (source). There is a huge difference in the results.

I have run cooper test several times. Every time somewhere between 2800-3050 meters. The best result is from middle school / high school. In the army i ran 2800m sharp. Last time I ran Cooper was 2008. That’s about 14 years. That’s when I ran 2850m.

Currently Cooper condition

The previous results in the back of my head, I began to ponder where I’m at now – the current condition is a complete mystery. I know 3000m is a full utopia, but 2500m should be piece of cake. I boldly tightened the cords of my barefootshoes and voluntarily dived into the darkness to complete the experiment.

My brother, who is a passionate triathlete, promisend to come along to pace me. The place was chosen to be the pitch-dark athletics field in Seinäjoki, where in the light of the headlamp, one was able to run. There was a 400m track with good mondo. The weather was really good – oxygen-rich after rain, suitably on the plus side, and a mild wind that spun the water in the puddles. The only cons to my starting points were a previous long flu-induced bed rest and a semi-hard weight training session few days back – DOMS was still present. However, I do not think these significantly affected the outcome.

After fifteen minutes of light jogging and a couple of hard strokes, the body was tuned in for the cooper. The heart rate was quite high even with light jogging and after the strokes it went to 185bpm. Even the light pace didn’t feel very pleasant. I think the stress caused by the test had a bit of an impact. My brother warned to start too hard: ”I’d rather run at a pace that feels easy at start and then tighten the pace according to feeling.”.

The heart rate was pretty high. Everything was left on the track.

There were a bunch of butterflies in my stomach as the stopwatch beeped to indicate that it was time to go for it. The first half of the round felt easy and I was on a 2800m cooper pace. I thought this was great. After the first round, I noticed ”oh my lord”, I started too hard. The lactic acidification was real. The shiny puddles of water in the city lights seemed downright laughing at me as my brother’s words came to mind: ”Don’t go too hard”. At this point, I asked my brother to maintain a speed of 2500m. Now that a pace I could keep even butt-naked in a frosty weather. Round after round, the pace slowed and I was really in big trouble. After the third round, I almost called it quits when my nasal cheek cavity for some reason began to feel a hard, unpleasant pressure. Maybe I hadn’t quite recovered from the illness yet? However, the feeling lasted only a round, after which only the pain caused by the run itself remained.

What do you think my results were? I can tell you that I was expecting better, even though I realized that my starting point for Cooper test was not very uplifting. So when at twelve minutes time mark the clock beeped and I realized my results, the physical pain caused by the run also shifted a bit to the mental side. Two thousand four hundred meters sharp. And I wasn’t naked, let alone in the frost. Looking at the above tables, it still goes to the category ”Good”, albeit right there at the lower limits. In that sense, I’m no Outta shape, but as I have defined being out of shape, it is a subjective concept. I have never run such a shitty cooper.

I can swear with my heart that I left everything on the mondo. The average heart rate was 187bpm and the maximum was 192bpm. At a lighter starting pace, I think I might have run 50 meters longer, but there is no room for such guessing. The condition is now what it is and I will take it without explanation.

This is pretty harsh to watch. At seven minutes, the struggle was real 🙂


The result was really bad for me, but on the other hand, my training has not been aimed to this at any level. Positive fact is, that there is only an upward direction from here. Of course, three months can’t work wonders, but the goal is to get an additional 100m result when I run Cooper again in three months.

When was the last time you ran the Cooper test? With what kind of result?

My god it was a struggle


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