For many years now I have been telling everyone they need to be able to run a little. This inevitably brings up objections from how running is bad for the joints to how one form of exercise is better than another. Most people tell me they never need to run yet every time I am in the park I see dog owners chasing after their misbehaving hounds, parents trying to keep up with run away children or commuters hustling to catch a bus. Almost all of them look totally unprepared for running. The reality is that jogging happens more than you think. The point of exercise is to prepare you for life. This is why it needs to contain aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility because life asks all of these things from you.
For years I have used a 10 minute run test to measure client fitness for newer exercisers. An even more simple version of this is the 1km evaluation. Quite simply, how long does it take for you to cover 1km. The grading for this is below, your goal would be to get to level 5 at least, ideally level 6. I expect my clients to get to level 7, albeit there are a few exemptions to these goal guidelines.
Level 1 – Unable to walk the entire distance without stopping due to fitness or joint pain*
Level 2 – Walk the entire distance taking over 12 minutes
Level 3 – Walk the entire distance taking 10 – 12 minutes
Level 4 – Walk the entire distance taking below 10 minutes
Level 5 – Jog the whole distance, taking over 6 minutes 30 seconds
Level 6 – Jog the distance between 5.45 to 6 minutes 30 seconds
Level 7 – Jog the distance in 5 to 5 minutes 45 seconds.
Level 8 -Jog the distance in 4.15 to 5 minutes
Level 9 -Jog the distance in 3.30 – 4 minutes 15 seconds.
Level 10+ At faster than these times you would probably look for longer distances to gauge aerobic fitness as you are at a very good level. For fun reference, the 1km world record is 2 minutes 12 seconds. I would be around 3.45 if did it today.
*If you are unable to walk (or jog) due to joint pain then your goal should be to work on your joints, injuries, strength and posture. Most peoples injuries can be managed and developed so they can return to walking and jogging at some point.
I think many people’s worries around jogging comes from seeing the damage to ex-marathon runners who literally were putting in 100 miles+ (160km) a week for years. This is not comparable to running for a very short distance like in the above evaluation.
If you are unable to walk 1 km, this is fine, everyone starts somewhere. The goal would be to build that up. Avoid putting a timeframe on getting better, just focus one day at a time on improving things. This is especially true if coming out of an injury. If you carrying large amounts of excess weight then jogging may not be appropriate currently even if you are quite good at walking. This is not a problem, no one is saying you need to stat jogging today, maybe in 6 months, 1 year or even further down the line it will be the right time.
Some people will legitmetely not be able to jog, or even walk based on physical symptoms, injuries or disabilities. In these circumstances, I think it is good to get a evaluation of some sort in another form of aerobic exercise. This could be swimming, rowing, or a hand bike.
What Does This Mean For You?
-Download Strava or another phone related app.
-Press start and cover the 1km, note your time at the end.
If you do not have access to this on your phone then their plan out a route using Map My run or a similar website or go down your local athletics track and do two and half laps. Use a stop watch to record your time.
Whatever your score, your goal should be to improve it a little. It does not matter where you are today, I have seen some mad transformations in fitness over the years. In general, when a new client starts with me they usually can jog around 90-120 seconds. I have seen that turn into a 24 minute park run time. I saw props in rugby end up at outside centre and people who can barely walk from broken bones and injuries jogging half marathons again. Time, focus and a structured running plan can produce wonders!.
Photo – Some pics from my 400m athletics days and a 1km effort from a training session last week as I slowly get back into my running.
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