Army fitness training diary: week four

OK, time to ‘fess up. I should be on week five by now, but, what with one thing and another, I ended up repeating week four because I didn’t make time to do it properly on my first attempt. So this week’s diary entry is an amalgamation of two weeks’ training, culminating in the all-important second fitness test.

A nice easy day, presumably to give the body time to recharge before the fitness test on Sunday. I go on a steady run around the park and then head back home for the strength exercises. The programme calls for 40 seconds of press-ups, repeated 3 times, and the same format for sit-ups. I maintain the same number of sit-ups throughout (around 24), but my press-ups dwindle by a few each time. I think this is expected, so I don’t feel disheartened.

Rest day. It’s also Shrove Tuesday, which means a) I stuff myself with pancakes, naturally, but also b) it’s the last time I’ll be drinking alcohol for 46 days – I’m giving up for Lent. I bin the booze every year, but this year I’m particularly keen to see whether teetotalism will have an impact on my training. That said, I can’t say I’m looking forward to seven dry weeks …

A really challenging day. I hit the treadmill for a 10-minute warm-up, followed by a 10-minute run at alternating speeds (one minute fast, one minute slow), and finally a 10-minute cool-down. In just a week, the recovery time for this run has been slashed in half from two minutes to one, which is quite difficult to deal with. I’m pouring with sweat by the end, and feel a bit light-headed when I get off the treadmill. When I repeat the exercise a week later, though, it’s palpably easier – could I really have improved in seven days? Maybe I’m just more psychologically prepared, knowing that I’ve already completed the task once.

Korfball training, outside in the freezing cold for two hours. It’s got to be good for endurance …

Fantastic! There are no strength exercises on the last training day before the fitness test, and no running either. Instead, the programme recommends a brisk walk, or some swimming, cycling or rowing. I walk briskly all over the place most days anyway, so I decide to do a yoga class instead. It might not do much for my cardiovascular fitness, but I need a different focus today. I’ve had aching muscles and slightly stiff joints since starting the fitness plan. I’ve also had a ferocious temper! I think resuming my weekly yoga class might help with both problems.

Rest day. I go shopping to banish my nerves about tomorrow’s fitness test.

Judgment day. I’m playing korfball at midday, so I set my alarm unnaturally early for a Sunday and set off for the park at 9.30am. It’s a gorgeously sunny day, and I am reminded of the heatwave that set in when I was taking my GCSEs. The contrast between the blissful weather and the torment of exams seemed particularly cruel. I feel Mother Nature is mocking me in the same way now. In reality, though, the worst part of the strength tests is putting my hand on a fat worm warming itself in the sunshine before I begin. At least the pain of press-ups is a distraction from the memory of its squidgy body. The run is another matter, a torment from start to finish – I begin dreading the next one in four weeks’ time before I’m halfway round!

The results

Initial fitness test

Press-ups: 44
Sit-ups: 62
1.5-mile run: 14m 28s
Sit and reach: 11cm
Waist to hip ratio: 0.89
BMI: 21.2

Second fitness test

Press-ups: 52
Sit-ups: 69
1.5-mile run: 13m 04s
Sit and reach: 5cm
Waist to hip ratio: 0.86
BMI: 21.5

I’m really pleased, and quite surprised, too. I’ve improved in every area, apart from my BMI (and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that may be due to a tape measure error in week one). I felt considerably stronger during the press-up test, managing 37 without a break before pausing for a few seconds. I was slightly disappointed with 69 sit-ups, but mainly because I thought I’d managed 66 in the initial test (as reported here). In fact, on checking my wallchart, I only managed 62, which means I’ve improved by a greater margin than I first thought. I’m most pleased about the run, though – I’ve stormed into the next category! I never thought I’d be so happy to be classed as average! In fact, I’m only a few seconds away from ‘good’. It’s a miracle.

I’d really like to know how you got on in the fitness test – email me on the address below. In the meantime, bring on phase two!

· Are you following the official army fitness programme? Email [email protected] to share your experiences in next week’s training diary

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