Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The End is Near!

It's much like a race...

In the Army, a couple of times a year, you are required to take the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) or PT test.  Nobody really enjoys the PT test, but it's just another thing in a long list of things that must be done if you're going to be in the Army.

The Army PT test consists of 2 minutes of push ups, 2 minutes of sit ups, and then a 2 mile run.  Each service has a similar but slightly different test.  The test is scored according to your age, so generally the expectation is less as you age.  (Work Smarter, not Harder!)

It starts off with some instructions, and even a demonstration of the event.  The instructors will show both the right and wrong way to do a push up or a sit up, then a grader will count your repetitions for a full two minutes.   (Army Photo)

That's where it gets a little tough.  The first minute or so is work, but for all but the strongest, the second minute is a balance between more repetitions and rest.  If, for example, you went "down" on a push up but were unable to return properly to the "up" position, then your event is "terminated."  So for me, it's a good practice to rest every few repetitions to allow a few more deep breaths before continuing.

The same thing goes for the sit ups  Fail to come up, and the event is "terminated."

The two mile run is the endurance event though...  Many people line up eager to "get this over with."  When the command to "GO!" is given, like jackrabbits they rocket across the line and around the curve...

I on the other hand, know the pace that I can manage throughout, and start out at that speed.  By the time I've reached the one mile point, I've already passed most of the people who took off in a sprint.  For most of my career, I'd probably finish in the top 10% or so of the group, though I've slowed considerably the last few years.

It's a lot like work on a deployment.  Some people start out at a sprint, working eighteen hour days for weeks on end until they burn out.  Cigarettes, coffee and other sources of caffeine keep many people going, but it's a dangerous crutch to depend on chemical enhancement...  That sort of schedule might be necessary in some cases, but it's not a healthy long term choice.

I've tried to pace myself from the beginning, aiming for the 12-14 hour mark.  It's still a lot, but honestly I don't have much to do besides work!  I'm getting closer to the end of my tour, and starting to tie up loose ends.  I'm fixing things that I've been tolerating, and finishing things that I've left undone.  I'm picking up the pace, now that the finish line is almost in sight.  I want to ensure that my replacement gets off to a good start, since this is a relay race.  I'll pass it to him and he'll pass it to someone else.

There's a point in each PT test or race... You're cruising along, doing your pace, when suddenly you realize that you've only got a short distance to go, When you realize that you're going to make it, you refocus your energy and speed up, hoping to make it over the finish line with a burst of speed as the last of your energy is exhausted.  I'll tell you, the best part of a PT test is when it's complete.

You take some deep breaths, walk around for a few minutes, stretch and recover.  Soon, you may find yourself proud of your effort and accomplishment...

That's my goal... To finish strong and well, pass the mission to my replacement, and then to go home and stretch out.  To be proud not only that I completed my assignment, but that I did it well.

1 comment:

Deb said...


There's no way I could do all that. I'm glad that's not required of me.

It must feel really good to be in such great shape and on top of that understand your strength and endurance.

Well done!