In Illinois, police officer recruits are required to pass what is known as the POWER Test. It's an acronym for Police Officer Wellness Evaluation Report. It is a battery of four tests:
- One-minute of situps
- 1RM bench press
- One-and-a-half mile run
There are different standards for age groups and gender. Rules and standards can be found here. Simply put: it's a joke. However, what infuriates me is the last page and the suggestions on how to prepare for the 1.5 mile run.
A similar version of this test WITH STRICTER STANDARDS is required for acceptance and retention to my LE unit.
I get frustrated when I hear candidates (and incumbents) discussing training for their run. So many say they're running three miles, three times per week. Or any other distance MORE THAN ONE-AND-A-HALF MILES. My issue is not that this is bad. Running is good. But from an efficiency standpoint, this is far from efficient. And barely effective at all!!
Science and experience proves again and again that Interval Training is how to drop running times. This goes also for biking, rowing, stairclimbing, and other cardio-modalities. Interval training in THEORY is simple: work sessions that concentrate on bursts of energy, alternated with rest periods, and repeated. In PRACTICE, it becomes much less clear. It turns into fighting between different trainers' camps -- the issues as to frequency (per week), duration of work and rest, duration of the workout sessions, how intense/paced the work intervals are, etc.
Here's my take:
- Not many of us are close enough to our fullest potential to worry about all these intricacies. Most of us can simply take high intensity work sessions, factor in some rest, and repeat a few times. Do this 2 times per week. That alone will make changes in speed.
- The more out of shape (the farther away from your potential) you are, the less worry you should have about following some magical formula of interval training.
- When you get to the Olympic, collegiate, and professional levels, then you need to start using some serious science and math to figure out how to reach your fullest potential (optimized). Until then, tell some of the experts to chill out.
I am doing interval training during my 30-day rowing challenge. The interval methods have already allowed me to drop significant time on my 2k, 5k, and 10k times. I use various interval lengths, including 500m and 1000m --- and I row FAST and HARD for these sessions. I also use adequate rest periods in between (sometimes equal to the work intervals). I find more benefit to rowing 5x 2,000m or 10x 1,000m than a slower 10,000m. While the overall distances are the same, I believe this to be far superior than rowing all the 10,000 meters at once.
In summary, don't get to frazzled with all the science and numbers regarding the "optimal" training methods. They might not be optimal for YOUR fitness levels or goals. However, take the Theory behind speed training and apply these principles to your sessions, in whatever discipline or modality it might be.