Thursday, February 2, 2012

Physical Fitness

    Its that time of year again, to begin my train up for the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Most people who see an active duty army unit awake at 6 A.M. will see them conducting PT (Physical Training). However, what most people don't know is PT is designed only to maintain physical fitness, not enhance it.

    The Army Physical Fitness Test currently consists of three parts; Two minutes of pushups, Two minutes of sit-ups, and a two mile run. Males and Females are scored differently in a system called "gender norming". These two score sheets are further divided into age groups. For me, that translates into a personal requirement of completing the APFT with the following:

    Pushups: 34 (60%)
    Sit-ups: 38 (60%)
    2 Mile Run: 18 Minutes and 18 Seconds (18:18) (60%)

    I know that doesn't sound like a lot, and really, it isn't. That is the absolute minimum score that I have to achieve in order to pass each event. In the current climate of downsizing, this means failing a single event can end my career. Not a notion I care to entertain. Instead, I train on my own, when I can. Sadly this has not been often lately due to longer than expected work schedules.

    Another benefit of the APFT is promotion points. Yes, the more physically fit you are, the more likely you are to get a promotion. I am also planning on going before the promotion selection board in a few months so a good score will help a lot.

    On my last APFT back in October, I scored the following:

    Pushups: 58 (85%)
    Sit-ups: 52 (75%)
    2 Mile Run: 15 Minutes and 20 seconds (85%)
    Total Score: 245 out of 300 (3 x 100% = 300)

    This score of 245 gets me only 21 promotion points out of a possible 50 points. While the numbers look good on paper, I need to do much better. With nearly a month in which to dedicate myself to getting the most out of my efforts, I am more than confident I can best my current score by a lot.

    Granted, I am an older male (you can look up the scores on Google to figure out my age group, but i'm not telling). This means I need fewer actual numbers to pass, but I also need much higher numbers than a  younger person in order to maximize my score. Also, at my age, recovery time is a must. The Army isn't always willing or able to give me "free" time just for an APFT. I actually understand, the "why" behind that so I am not complaining here. But I do need to be mindful of it.

    Between training soldiers, accomplishing various missions and tasks, dealing with soldier issues (both professional and personal), making time to spend with my wife and my two dogs, and visiting family, I have a full day most of the time. It isn't always easy to eek out a good hour or two to devote to physical training.

    The short answer is I have to find a way. While I did find the time to go for a 2 mine run on a fairly hilly road today (completed it in 17:26 with hills and three stops to fix my ear buds for my music) I will need to find this time every single day for the next month or so.

    I will still write about tech news, but for the next month at least, this blog is going to have some added physical fitness articles in it. (This is your only warning) <chuckle>