How to Get that IPPT Gold in Running

by Aktive Learning on November 5, 2012

By Dave Tai (guest contributor)

The Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) has plagued the lives of every Singaporean male since 1980. It is made up of five tests, namely sit up, pull up, standing broad jump, shuttle run and lastly the much dreaded 2.4 kilometre (km) run.

The ability to ace the test is rewarded with monetary incentives: Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) get $100 for a Silver and $200 for a Gold, while reservists (NSmen) get $200 for a Silver and $400 for a Gold. Conversely, failing the test means having to burn weekends and weekday nights for remedial training.

The Gold Standard

Passing the 2.4 km run is a doable task, and with a healthy level of cardio fitness even the Silver is within grasp. However today I will share with you the key to clocking that elusive 2.4 km Gold timing.

First, a look at the timing required to achieve the Gold standard:

Cat X (under 25): <09:45
Cat Y (25-29): <10:00
Cat Y1 (30-34): <10:15
Cat Z (35-39): <10:45
Cat Z1 (40-44): <11:00

Now that you know what is required ask yourself: are you there yet? If not, how far off? If you’re struggling with a Pass, work on your endurance, clock a bit more distance until you can comfortably run your 2.4 km under 12 minutes then proceed. The following training is meant for people who have built up the ability to finish their 2.4 km run but are unable to run at a speed for the glorious Gold.

Introducing Interval Training

Learning process
(photo: pedrosimoes7)

How do you usually train for your 2.4 km run? Do you run for 20 to 30 minutes a day and hope that somehow your timing will improve? Your endurance will be sure to improve; your runs might feel easier yet speed-wise you might not see much change. This is because your ability to be fast relies not on your aerobic system but instead on your anaerobic system (activated only within the first few minutes of your run).

Once you have sufficient endurance it is time to focus on your speed. Enter interval training. Interval training is a form of discontinuous training where you train at high intensity followed by a period of rest. The process will continue until you have achieved the target amount of rounds or distance. It is one of the most painful running training known to men (or to me at least) and you will be gasping for air by the time you are done. Another side effect includes breaking personal records.

In this scenario our athlete shall aim for a 2.4 km timing of 9 minutes, clearing even the Guards/Commando gold requirement of 9:15. He will set himself a pace of 1:30 for every 400m as a target. A decent interval training programme will look something like this:

Phase 1:
1. Run 400m in <1:30
2. Rest for 3:00
3. Repeat until you hit 3.2 km

Phase 2:
1. Run 800m in <3:00
2. Rest for 3:00
3. Repeat until you hit 3.2 km

Phase 3:
1. Run 1.2 km in <4:30
2. Rest for 4:30
3. Repeat until you hit 2.4 km

Tips for your customized interval sessions

About to start
(photo: jontunn)

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your interval training:

  • Rest Interval – As you noticed from the mock example above, the training to rest ratio started with 1:2 and was shifted towards 1:1. If you are able to take the pain and go beyond a 1:0.5 ratio you can achieve greater gains. As a general guide you will want to work towards a 1:1 ratio. If you are not accustomed to high intensity training take your time and gradually lower the rest interval.
  • Progressive Distance – Start out with a relatively short distance. This is because you will be running at a quick yet constant pace. You should not find yourself sprinting the first stretch of the track only to be lagging for the next half. Also it is alright to go a few rounds beyond 2.4 km so that you will have the endurance to last the whole 2.4km without the rest intervals.  As you approach your test date, progressively bring the distance closer to your target distance which in this case is 2.4km.
  • Gradual Build Up – Interval training can be taxing on the body. When you’re starting out, once a week might be enough. As your body gets used to the intensity, you will then be able to increase the frequency to two times a week or even three. Do make sure that you have at least two days of rest in between training sessions or you will find yourself worn out and worn down before the IPPT even begins.

Achieving the 2.4 km Gold is not impossible – all it takes is a bit of pain and time. The question is: how badly do you want that Gold?

By guest contributor and fitness instructor Dave Tai. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.

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