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The mile and a half is back! Now called the 2.4km run

The mile and a half is back! Now called the 2.4km run

By: WJO

Many Ex Cadets from back in the day will have various memories of the mile and a half run as the centre piece for the Physical Performance Test. It was usually run three times per years and mostly outdoors – on the Constantine track or from the Memorial Arch around the point.

Some-time during the mid to late 1990s it was replaced by the 20-meter shuttle run – which at the time was heralded as the end all in measuring aerobic capacity. 

We contacted Stephane Robert – Physical Education Manager who was patient and kind enough to give us a rundown (pun intended) on the background and rationale for changing back to the mile and a half – excuse me –  the 2.4km run.

In his own words:

The New/Old PPT

Stephane Robert – Physical Education Manager – Royal Military College of Canada

Stephane Robert

In the spring of 2016, an extensive review of the current RMCC fitness culture was tasked by the Commandant of RMCC, BGen Friday, and conducted by a committee comprised of members of the RMCC Athletics Department as well as several members from the CFMWS Human Performance Research Division.

The objective of this review was to identify points of weakness with recommendations for improvement regarding any aspect of physical education, physical fitness and physical evaluations at RMCC.  Many of the “shortcomings” identified were previously anticipated with the possibility of change requiring resources far beyond what is possible at the moment but there was one finding that surprised many on the committee.

As an RMCC N/OCdt progresses from 1st year to 4th year there is a measurable improvement in all components of the PPT (Physical Performance Test) including Push Ups, Long Jump, Agility Run and Sit Ups.  Improvement in all areas EXCEPT the 20-meter shuttle run (20MSR).  Further investigation revealed that, although the 20MSR does an excellent job at assessing aerobic capacity if done at a maximal intensity, the nature of the test does not promote maximal effort for several reasons.

For example, the previous structure of the test required participants to complete the 20MSR followed immediately by all other components.  This means that the more effort you put into the run, the less rest time you have before all other events.  As we all know, finishing a maximal effort run immediately followed by maximal effort push ups does not breed optimal performance whereas if you were to cut your run short in order to have a bit more rest time, this would significantly improve results for all other components of the PPT.  This results in submaximal performance by the participant in order to ensure they are fresh for the other events.  As well, once a participant reaches their minimal standard on the run, there isn’t a great incentive to continue to push maximally thereby leading to a high number of participants pulling out of the run.

These were just some of the shortcomings identified but this initiated further investigation into potential solutions.  Interestingly enough the 2.4km run, previous used at the college as the aerobic fitness test, seemed to solve many the identified issues with the 20MSR.

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Historical Note

The 20-meter shuttle run replaced the 2.4km run (previously referred to as the mile and a half) as the aerobic component test of the RMCC PPT in order to maintain consistency with the Canadian Armed Forces which, at the time was using the EXPRES test as the new measure of Universality of Service.

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The 2.4 km run, and similar short distance time trials, are still the most common form of aerobic fitness tests used in military colleges and by military’s themselves due to the advantages they offer over other tests.  In fact, it is still used in the CAF as a component for the pre-selection fitness test such as SOA (ie JTF2).  One of the advantages of this test is the elimination of the already mentioned issue of disadvantaging those pushing at a maximal effort by rewarding maximal performance through increased recovery time before other components of the PPT.  Therefore the greater the participants result on the 2.4km run, the greater the rest time before all other components. From a training perspective, the 2.4km run is much simpler than the 20-meter shuttle run considering it is a set distance requiring no audio tape as is the case for the 20MSR.  As well, the fact that the run is a set distance and has a clear finish line aids in driving the participant to push with absolute maximal intensity during the last stretch.

The proposal for the replacement of the 20MSR by the 2.4km run was put forth and approved by BGen Friday with its first implementation taking place in the spring of 2017.  Due to the fact that it is a “new” test, at least for the current cadet population, a transition plan will take place involving all unsuccessful participants given the opportunity to attend the PPT Re-Test but with the 20-meter shuttle run as the aerobic component test.

In order to further help with the implementation of this change, the test and any questions/concerns have been discussed and addressed during N/OCdt Physical Education class and several trials involving large groups of N/OCdts have been conducted in order to assess the logistics of the race along with the anticipated results.  We are very excited that a piece of history has been brought back to RMCC and will once again have a significant positive impact on the culture of fitness at the college.

The route to be used for the 2.4km run

Q&A

What route will be used for the 2.4km run?

Initially the idea was to have the 2.4km run route as 1-lap around the campus but a few potential logistical complications were identified therefore a decision was made for a 3-lap route as shown in the photo above.  This route will begin and end directly in front of the Arch and use an electronic chip system in order to calculate accurate times, not only for determining the final time, but also to assess split times which will help the participant in their pacing.

What happens if the weather is poor?

In order to decrease the likelihood of severe weather conditions the PPT dates were pushed until the last week of March instead of the previous February timings.  The reality is the weather is unpredictable and can be treacherous therefore in the event that the conditions will have a negative impact on performance or there is a concern for the safety of the participants, the test will be conducted indoors around the track at the KMCSC.

How were the timings chosen for the new test?

Each stage of the 20-meter shuttle run and each timing of the 2.4 km run are associated with a predicted measure of aerobic fitness (more specifically a predicated VO2max).  The standards used for the 20MSR were simply matched up with the same predicted VO2max for the 2.4km therefore the requirements, in terms of aerobic fitness, are the same between the two tests.

How can I train for this test?

For an individualized training program it’s highly recommended to approach one of the RMCC PE Teachers.

4 Comments

  • André Durand

    March 27, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Est-ce que ce changement a été fait de concert avec le CMR Saint-Jean? Quel sera le parcours au CMR Saint-Jean?

  • Michael Della Fortuna

    March 27, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    You have to round the point. Having to push head on through the wind and rain brings the reward of the wind at your back as you come around the second half.

  • 15566 Helga Grodzinski

    March 28, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I don’t know, but I see this as just another unnecessary stressor for cadets and logistically awkward to conduct. As the last several end-March periods on the peninsula have shown, weather and road conditions are HIGHLY variable and sometimes dangerous. I see you having to kick it back to the field house frequently. Why not just run it in the field house to begin with? Yes, it’s boring, but all the other parts of the test are conducted at the Field House, so there’s less logistical churn to run it. Pacing is easy on the track and you would not need chips. Also, and this is important, the field house track is always the same conditions, each and every time. Standardization in testing is important, especially for “marginal athletes” i.e. those who have to struggle to pass and those who need a stellar result to get their clubs, or clubs with star or whatever it is now.

  • 18889 Bob Rodgers

    March 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    You also need to have “Ride of the Valkyries” blasting from the dorm windows as you come into the last 200m! (Takes at least 20s off of anyone’s best time!)