too many words by laura lemay

poor aerobic condition

22 minutes, eight seconds.

That, my friends, is the number of shame.

Last week I was at the gym, and I was bored with my usual twenty-minutes-on-the-bike warmup routine, so I got up onto a stairmaster. And the stairmaster had a button for “Fitness Test.” OK, what the hell, I’m not going anywhere. The stairmaster had me, um, stairing for a few minutes, and then taking my pulse and entering it into the machine. Rinse, repeat. At the end of the test came the verdict:

I am in poor aerobic condition for someone my age.


This has been bugging the living hell out of me. For one thing, I’m in better shape than a lot of people I know. For another, I bicycle a lot, both on the road and in the gym on the spin bike. Poor aerobic conditioning? Poor aerobic conditioning? WTF?

After my ego got over the blow, however, I thought about it. I spend a lot of time at the gym, but pretty much all of that time is lifting weights. I bicycle, but I’m slow. And I can’t run or swim very well; I get tired and winded quickly. Yes, I am probably indeed in poor aerobic condition. And the only way to fix that is to step up the aerobic part of my workout.

Which brings us to 22 minutes, eight seconds. That is the incredibly shameful amount of time it took me this morning to run 2.5KM, six laps around the track behind the gym (that’s about a mile and a half). I post this number in the hope that public embarrassment will help me improve it. In my defense I took it easy today and alternated one lap running and one lap walking; I know from past experience that when I start running if I get carried away my feet and hips really suffer for it the next day so I intentionally took it easy. That 22 minutes should get much shorter fairly quickly. (I hope, I hope)

From some googling I found out that if I intend to enlist in the Canadian Army{.broken_link} I need to be able to run 2.5KM in under 15:25, and 13:27 would be much better. OK then, that’s a goal. (The US Army has a two mile chart with percentiles but I can’t figure out what percentile I’m supposed to be aiming for. Not that I see any army in my future, mind you).

In other fitness news, this weekend I also signed up for the Cinderella Classic{.broken_link}, a wildly popular metric century for women only over in the Livermore valley. A metric century is 100KM, 65 miles, and given that its on April 2 and I’m only riding about 25 miles at a time right now, I need to get training to build up my endurance (not the same thing as aerobic conditioning). No more rain, please. At least not on weekends.

UPDATE: I am told that the way the US Army fitness tests work is that you get points for each portion of the test based on goals or percentiles. So you can suck at running but be able to do a zillion pushups or chinups and still get enough points to make it through. I’ll keep this in mind should I decide to enlist.