The dreaded bleep test
I’m sure we’ve all had to do this test once in our lives — for most of us it was a part of a PE lesson at school. If you’ve never had to do one, in my eyes, you are certainly one lucky soul!
The bleep test is a multi-stage fitness test used to measure cardiovascular fitness and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) where you run from one point to another that has a distance of either 15 or 20m apart. As you progress through the levels the speed increases.
I recently had to take on the challenge of the bleep test for the first time since being traumatised by it in high school. Back then I was definitely a couch potato. Since January 2021, I’ve been on a mission to improve my overall health. As I’m writing this, I’ve lost 3 stone in weight and through cycling and going to the gym my fitness has improved massively.
To train for the bleep test I started the Couch to 5K as I’d never done any running before, mainly because I didn’t ever enjoy doing it. Still don’t — give me a bike any day of the week!
After doing a practice run of bleep test in January (2022), I found that I was still not able to get the score I needed even after putting in hours of training. I realised that although I could now run for 20 minutes and cycle for over 3 hours, I struggled with controlling my breathing when sprinting. My mistake was I’d be focusing on distance rather than speed.
With two weeks to go until test day, I switched up my training to interval sprinting training rather than continuing with the Couch to 5K to improve my breathing when running at greater speeds as well as getting my body used to that kind of running.
Another mistake was made though… I decided to do the interval training outside even though prior to all this my running training had been done in the gym. This caused a lot of strain and pain in my legs. Most evenings were spent with ice packs on them — just what you need so close to test day!
Although I was a little worried before doing the test as I’d never been able to reach the score I needed, on the day I was able to control my breathing and get through the levels needed. Although I’m sure adrenaline played its part, without putting in the effort over the past 4/5 months with the training I am certain I’d have not been able to complete the test. Starting my running training at the earliest possible moment definitely helped ensure I was ready in time.
Looking back, I definitely would have trained slightly differently. I would have still started off with the Couch to 5K as I needed to get my body used to running but as I got further into the weeks I’d have split my training to include both endurance and sprinting training to allow my body to get used to sprinting earlier. I am really proud of myself for committing to all the training, not giving up, and pushing myself even when on days I wasn’t motivated.
Have you ever had to do the bleep test? How was your experience and any tips for others who are having to do it?