by Heba Hosny in Health + Nutrition

Serious Runners – Enjoy Top Running Fitness Tests (part one)

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Running fitness tests are indispensable for any serious runner. If done correctly, they could give you a very accurate indication of your cardiovascular endurance, namely a measure of your ability for continuous exercising  for extended periods of time without exhaustion. The good news is:  you could easily find plenty of run tests available out there,designed for all age categories and fitness levels. Most of them are very easy to conduct and suitable for large groups.

To make the most out of run tests, effective pacing is essential to maximize your results and get a true reflection of your actual  fitness level. The instructors could definitely offer valuable assistance by encouraging participants to exert maximal effort and conducting a trial test one week prior to the actual test. This way, runners could get a realistic feel of the expected effort and, as a result, ensure to get the utmost benefit from the test.

As most of these tests are conducted outdoors, It’s important  to bear in mind that external conditions could greatly affect your test results. These include extremely hot/cold weather, strong winds, and the condition of the running surface. These conditions must be taken into consideration when you analyze your test results. Let’s explore some of these tests in detail.

Kenneth Cooper’s 12-Minute Run

This test is a popular aerobic fitness maximal running test that measures the capability of the runner’s body to fully use oxygen to power itself while running.

  • Required Equipment: running track or flat oval,  recording sheets, marking cones, and stop watch.
  • Procedure: Markers should be placed at preset intervals around the track in order to aid in measuring the  distance completed. Participants are required to run for 12 minutes, recording the total distance covered. Walking is allowed but not recommended to encourage participants to push themselves to the limit.
Adult Males Results Table
Rating Distance (meters)
Excellent 2700 m
Good 2300 – 2700 m
Average 1900 – 2300 m
Below average 1500 – 1900 m
Poor < 1500 m

The  above table gives general guidelines for interpreting test results  for adults. The results are only approximate values.

  • Scoring Criteria: There are specific equations used to estimate VO2 max, which is the maximal uptake of oxygen or the maximum oxygen volume that could be used in one minute during exhaustive or maximal exercise. VO2 max is measured by millilitres of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of your body weight. The equations covers distances in kilometres/miles:
    VO2 max = (22.351 x kilometres) – 11.288
    VO2 max = (35.97 x miles) – 11.29
  • Targeted Population: This test could be easily modified to suite  most populations. For unfit people or people who are unable to run, similar walking tests could be performed instead.
  • Validity: Kenneth Cooper  reported the correlation of 0.90 between VO2 max and the distance covered in a 12-minute run/walk.
  • Test Reliability: pacing strategies, practice and above all, motivational level determine how reliable and accurate the test results are
  • Advantages: ideal test for large groups plus being very simple and cost-effective.
  • Possible Modifications: The test is very flexible that it could  be conducted by running on a treadmill for the same duration of 12 minutes. Be sure to set the treadmill  level 1 (1% ) incline in order to mimic normal outdoor running.

Endurance Run / Walk Test

This test is based on the procedures used by the “President’s Challenge Fitness Awards”. This test mainly measures the aerobic endurance of the runner, which is  an important health measure in many sports.

  • Required Equipment: level marked and smooth one-mile track, stopwatch, paper and pencil.
  • Run Distance: one mile
  • Procedure: The aim of this test is the completion of  a one-mile-run as fast as possible. After clarifying  the test  instructions, the participants start running on the count “Ready? Set, Go!”. Running could be interrupted by occasional walking. However, fast finishing should be their number one priority.
  • Possible Modifications: for young children, a shorter test is performed, using the same procedure but different distance: 1/4 mile for ages 6 to 7 and 1/2 mile for  ages 8 to 9.
  • Scoring Criteria: time needed to complete the required distance is recorded in minutes/seconds.These results could be compared to published test results for similar age groups.
  • Advantages: minimal cost and equipment are involved, the test could be easily self-administered.

One Kilometre Run Test

The 1 km run test is ideal for youngsters and people with low fitness level. It’s one of the tests used by the “International Physical Fitness Test Battery”. The distance is usually less than 1 km for young boys and girls.

  • Required Equipment: running track or oval, and stopwatch.
  • Run Distance: 1 km for boys ages 14 to 19 , 800 meters for girls ages 14 to 19, and 600 meters for girls and boys  ages 13  and under.
  • Procedure: The target of this test is the completion of  the required distance as fast as possible. Once they hear: “Ready,” all participants must line-up behind the designated starting line. When they hear: “Go”, the clock  starts, and they start running at their own pace.  Walking is not encouraged but permitted. Calling the elapsed time and cheering is allowed to add the element of excitement.
  • Scoring Criteria: Total completion time is recorded per minutes/seconds.
  • Test Reliability: pacing strategies, practice and above all, motivational level determine how reliable and accurate the test results are.
  • Advantages: Very simple and cheap test that requires minimal equipment and is suitable for groups up to 30.

Hold on, that’s not all! We have more tests to share with you in our upcoming article:”Serious Runners – Enjoy Top Running Fitness Tests (part two)”. Visit the article. Happy running!

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