Running, Building a Base and R.O.T.C.

I’ve never actually looked up what R.O.T.C. meant, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps apparently, but it was always clear to me what it was about. It was a combination of education and military training. I’ve never really liked the idea, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I had some insight into why.

I’m in the process of getting back into my preferred exercise, running. After years of running too hard, too long or too fast when getting back into it, I’ve finally found an approach that works every time.

You start doing 10 miles a week. If you want to run 2 miles for 4 days and 1 mile for 2 days, that’s fine. If you want to do 6 miles 1 day and 4 miles another and take the rest of the week off, that’s fine too. It really depends on what your body can handle. Generally, I start with 3 or 4 miles a day and stop when I hit the weekly total.

And the next week, you do 2 more miles, which means 11 weeks of 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 miles a week. Once you reach 30 miles a week, then you can increment at 10% of your weekly mileage until you get to your goal weekly distance. If that goal distance is more than 60 miles a week, you need to think about doubling, or doing 2 runs a day and only running longer than 10 miles on your long run day, 1 day a week.

I’m currently on a week of 22 miles, so a little over halfway through this initial base building period. I’m thinking of a goal weekly distance of around 50 miles a week, something like this schedule:

  • Monday: 4 miles / hills, 8 * 0.5m speed
  • Tuesday: 9 miles, easy
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: 6 miles easy (morning), 9 miles easy (evening)
  • Friday: 6 miles, easy
  • Saturday, 16 miles
  • Sunday, Off

The nice thing about a weekly schedule is that you can modify it to conditions. If the weather forecast says rain on Thursday, then it is easy enough to shift your double to Wednesday. If you plan to go out Friday, then make Tuesday a double.

All of the above is a bit of prep for my anecdote. I was out running 6 miles yesterday when a group of R.O.T.C. cadets were preparing for a 1 mile run. They took off from my turn around point, a minute before I got there. Then, I passed about 1/3 of them before they got to their turn around point. Why? Because they went out and ran as fast as they could. They were poorly conditioned, and the non-commissioned officer was telling all the people that were turning around in front of me that they needed to run faster. While running past him, I said, “Their problem is they are walking.” And they are walking because they haven’t built a conditioning base. They are trying to run as fast as they can and a mile, much of it with a 4% or more grade, is not something you try to run without building up your conditioning first.

It’s a simple idea. You wouldn’t expect these cadets to go into combat without making sure they are competent with their weapons, would you? Shoot faster? No, you have to develop a training program that supports the capabilities you want to have to reach specific goals. Run faster would only make sense with this group if you were doing quarter mile sprints.

Of course, I suspect this is tied into the physical fitness test the military administers. I think tests are great, and I am all for them. But, you do not do physical conditioning to a test. A test is to help you understand what you need to work on. And the one thing that is obvious to me, as an observer of this group, is they need someone competent to run their physical fitness program.

Jumping Rope, 2021

I’ve done a bit of a trial of jumping rope for the last 2 months. I’ve decided that in the new year, it is worth trying to develop a consistent practice. Based on these two months, these are my equipment suggestions and the training program I’ve come up with.

Equipment

It is worth noting that it is easier to learn to jump rope using a weighted rope. Weighted ropes will also provide more of an arm and back workout.

The mat is necessary to give your legs a little cushion and to help extend the life of your jump rope. Hitting hard concrete can wear down some ropes (and legs unused to the strain) very quickly.

Personally, I am using a Boxer Training Rope 3.0, Heavy Muay Thai Rope 2.0, and a jumping rope mat from EliteSRS. The Boxer Training Rope comes in a 10 foot size, so if you use this, you might need cable cutters and cable stops to fit the jump rope to your height. However, I was lazy and simply added some loops to the rope to shorten it.

Note: Each routine below assumes a six day schedule with one day of rest. If you need more rest, then reduce to a four or five day schedule, as you have need. Target number of jumps in a minute: 120-160. I typically hit 150.

Beginning Routine, or The 5 Minute Routine

In the beginning, try to reach 5 minutes of jump rope. Get an high intensity interval timer for your phone, then set the following:

  • 20 Work (seconds)
  • 40 Break (seconds)
  • 60 Rest (seconds [of rest between blocks])
  • 3 Intervals per block
  • X Blocks

Work your way up to 5 blocks for a total of 5 minutes. At this point, you should have a basic skill of being able to jump rope.

The 10 Minute Routine

  • 30 Work (seconds)
  • 60 Break (seconds)
  • 10 Rest (seconds [of rest between blocks])
  • X Intervals per block
  • 1 Blocks

Start with 10 intervals per block, which is the same as 5 minutes of jump rope. Then, as it starts to feel easy, increment until you hit 20 intervals for a total of 10 minutes.

2021 Routine, The 20 Minute Routine

  • X Work (seconds)
  • 60 Break (seconds)
  • 10 Rest (seconds [of rest between blocks])
  • 20 Intervals per block
  • 1 Blocks

Start with 30 seconds of work for a total of 10 minutes of jumping rope. Then increment work by 3 seconds to add another minute of jumping rope to your routine. Once you hit 60 seconds of work per interval, then you will be doing 20 minutes of work jumping rope.

At the 20 minute of work mark, there are two options. One, start to reduce breaks by 3 seconds per interval, shaving off a minute of time for each 3 seconds reduced. Two, you could continue adding 3 seconds per interval to work to increase total work time to 90 seconds and overall time to an hour.

For a consistent practice, 20 minutes of jump rope work should be consistent for maintaining good health for ~40 minutes a day. Reduce breaks down to 30 seconds an interval, and you could get total time down to 30 minutes total.

For added difficulty, I am going to alternate days jumping rope with the weighted Heavy Muay Thai jump rope and the regular Boxer Training Rope. Over the last two months, I’ve used the Heavy Muay Thai rope exclusively, and I have found that the toll this takes on the body is too much to do every day.

2021 Progress

  • 2021-01-01: Started 2021 routine using 30 seconds of work for 10 minutes of jump rope.
  • 2021-02-01: Worked up to 20 minutes with a Boxer Training Rope and 12 minutes with the Muai Thai Rope.
  • 2021-03-01: Shoulder injury, scratch the whole month.
  • 2021-04-01:
  • 2021-05-01:
  • 2021-06-01:
  • 2021-07-01:
  • 2021-08-01:
  • 2021-09-01:
  • 2021-10-01:
  • 2021-11-01:
  • 2021-12-01:
  • 2022-01-01:

2021 Summary Results

To Be written in January 2022

Minimal Physical Fitness Standard: Four Flights of Stairs in One Minute

“Climbing four flights of stairs in less than a minute indicates good heart health…”The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health,” said study author Dr. Jesús Peteiro, a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña, Spain. “If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.”

—Sophia Antipolis, “Test your heart health by climbing stairs.” EurekaAlert. December 11, 2020.

Army Fit

I’ve argued before about the value of a periodic fitness test. These are the current United States Army standards, perfect and passing, for each exercise, courtesy of Outside Magazine.

Deadlift

Lift the heaviest weight you can three times.

Max (100 points): 340 pounds
Pass (70 points): 180 pounds

Power Throw

Launch a ten-pound medicine ball over your head and behind you.

Max (100 points): 13.5 yards
Pass (70 points): 8.5 yards

Hand-Release Push-Ups

Perform as many reps as possible in two minutes.

Max (100 points): 70
Pass (70 points): 30

Sprint-Drag-Carry

For 50 meters each, sprint, drag 90 pounds, side-shuffle, farmer’s-carry 80 pounds, then sprint again.

Max (100 points): 1 minute 40 seconds
Pass (70 points): 2 minutes 9 seconds

Pull-Up Leg Tucks

While hanging from a pull-up bar, hoist yourself until your arms are at 90 degrees while bringing your knees into your chest, then lower. Complete as many as you can.

Max (100 points): 20
Pass (70 points): 5

Two-Mile Run

Finish as quickly as possible.

Max (100 points): 12 minutes 45 seconds
Pass (70 points): 18 minutes

From Outside Magazine, November 2019