Tonight we are going to do a 5km and 800m timed run at the athletics track. Since few of us can afford the time or expense involved in scientific testing of our levels of fitness (VO2 max etc) in a lab we can achieve similar results through field testing. This means repeating the testing activity in similar conditions each time we do it. The environmental conditions will differ each time we do the tests but the results will give you an indication of your progress.
Using an athletics track means the distance covered in your run is accurately measured. Also the surface you run on will be smooth and flat. We know these will be constant each time. Environmental conditions may well change with the seasons. This is why the field test using an athletics track is a good measure but not infallible.
If you have a heart rate monitor please use it to assess the heart rate zones you can use in furture training sessions. See TP post
Two options for the test
- Run at threshold. This means as hard as you can for the distance. If you have a heart rate monitor use it for find your average heart rate at what will be approximately your threshold pace. Make sure you work hard throughout the test. You can use this figure to set heart rate zones for your training. See this link for further information on more accurate field testing to set heart rate zones.
- Run at a prescribed heart rate. If you have a good idea of your threshold heart rate you may want to run at say your level 2 or 3 HR zone. As you get fitter ie each heart beat delivers greater power you will cover the distance more quickly at the same heart rate.
Whatever test you do repeat it as consistently as possible every 4-6 weeks. This means you can evaluate the training regime you are using to ensure you are getting fitter or are on course for your goals.
As the title of this posts suggests it doesn't matter what you level of ability is these tests will help. If you have just started running then the 5 km may be completed at a run/walk. However ech time you repeat the activity it will show you how much progress you are making with your training.