The country of Ethiopia has produced two world and Olympic long-distance champion runners in both the male and female categories. They are Kenenisa Bekele and Meseret Defar, whose winning records in the Olympic Games would easily pass the Cooper Test. This test is one of physical fitness that is meant to measure the distance negotiated by the runner in 12 minutes of steady pace. In the Olympic 5000-meter event, Bekele finished on top with a time of 12:57:35 in 11.88 laps in 12 minutes, which means that he would a 4750-meter distance in the same span of time.
Cooper Test is a means of assessing the maximum oxygen intake of an athlete and is used to monitor his/her aerobic endurance. Its purpose is, therefore, to test the aerobic ability of the runner to consume oxygen to power his/her body while running. The test is also used to get an estimate of the runner VO2max (Volume per time of oxygen in the maximum), which is the best indicator of cardio-respiratory endurance. An estimate of the VO2max can be obtained by subtracting 504.9 from the distance covered in meters, and adding 44.73 to the difference.
Since Cooper Test demands maximum effort, it is recommended only for trained individuals. An indication of the individual’s physical fitness depends on sex and age and the distance covered in 12 minutes. Therefore, a 25-year old male athlete can be rated excellent as a 14-year old if they negotiate 2800 meters and 2700 meters, respectively, in 12 minutes. The reliability of the test would further depend on practice, pacing strategies and the level of motivation on the part of the runner.
Sports authorities have come up with certain tips for you if you are preparing for the Cooper Test. Four hours before, you should not eat anything heavy, only light meal. Have a good stretch especially of your abs which are among the common areas of cramp when running. Do some deep breathing to stretch your chest cavity and lungs, but don’t drink a lot of water shortly before but hours before the run. During the run, keep your breathing calm but you must not have an easy jog but a gradual speed. Make sure, too, that your running shoes have good padding and proper support. After the run, you can only reflect on how fast you made it while you may be doing a cooling down.
Cooper Test can also be done in swimming but is based on the physical fitness test for runners. Called the Swim Cooper Test, it works by having an individual swim as much as possible in 12 minutes, and in the same stroke every time. Before the start of the test, however, the swimmer is not allowed to engage in alcoholic drinks 12 hours previous to the test. Neither is he/she allowed to take coffee or nicotine three hours before the test, or any major meal two hours earlier. There is reason for the swimmer to stop the test if he/she gets a painful feeling in the chest, gets dizzy, starts having trouble breathing, or gets a stinging pain in the side.
If none of the running and swimming tests is possible, you can conduct it by running on a treadmill in 12 minutes by mimicking an actual outdoor running event.