As soon as you start refereeing semi-professional football, or higher, in England there is a compulsory fitness test. I’ve been doing this ever since having to do a version to qualify for the promotion scheme, and despite over five years of them now, the nerves never go away.
The bulk of the test is a rendition of the Cooper Test. It’s very simple to do:
- Stick a load of people on the track.
- Get them to run for 12 minutes (must be a continuous run; no breaks)
- Decide if the distance travelled is a pass or a fail!
For my level of refereeing (‘Level 3’, or ‘Contributory League Referee‘), the minimum distance is 2700 metres.
Leading up to this, I had been very happy with my training. As this blog attests to, I have been losing weight, training more regularly and bashing out the speed sessions. In my most recent race, I hit the pass distance after 12 minutes, and then kept running for another 12!
The day before, I ran my local parkrun. Although I had been intending to make this nice and easy, on the day I decided to run a decent controlled pace. This controlled pace resulted in a sub-22 minute time, which also equated to a pass for the Cooper Test. Perhaps not the wisest decision considering the fitness test the next day, but I felt strong at the time, and not wrecked afterwards!
The weather was a little awry on the morning of the test. It started off with rain, then was pretty mild (ideal!) and then the sun started peeking through at different points. Boo!
It was good to catch up with my fellow officials (including an usher from my wedding!) — it was a good turnout.
I set my Garmin for a Target of 2800 metres in 12 minutes. This is one reason I love the watch: It lets you set targets like this, and it will tell you throughout how far ahead or behind you are in order to hit your goal.
As is typical with a lot of my running, I went off pretty fast and slowed down as the test progressed. The Cooper Test is a weird one as it is more of a test of mental strength than anything else, in my opinion. My thought process was like this:
- Here we go!
- Hmm, this feels a bit fast.
- *glances at pace on watch* Ooh, yes, that is a bit fast.
- OK, settle into a rhythm, this feels good.
- Have we only done one lap?!!!
- There’s six of these?!
- Yay, six minutes — half done!
- *Hearing breathing behind me* Right, determined not to let anyone overtake now.
… and so on!
I hit an official distance of 3000 metres, which was the same as last year. That was great from my viewpoint, as even a few weeks ago I was not confident I was going to do that at all. That said, within the last week everything just seems to be taken a jump forward in terms of fitness. I’ll take it!
I have a few games lined up for my pre-season, as general running fitness is one thing: Match fitness is another. It will be purely ‘in the middle’ refereeing for me now too, as I had to choose a pathway for this coming season, and elected to drop waving a flag as an Assistant Referee.
Other than that, there is still some weight to lose, and I want to get faster! After all, this blog is all about getting that elusive (for me) sub-20 minute 5k, and I’m not there yet!