Forums >General Running>Cooper Aerobic Points for Running

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modified: 4/5/2012 at 9:09 AM

In **The New Aerobics** in the 1970s Dr Kenneth Cooper published points tables representing the aerobic benefit of running specific distances within specific time windows. Does anyone know how to convert those points table into a formula so that the principle can be applied to running any distance within any time?

There's got to be a statistical brain out there somewhere...

Never been to America, but how many of you guys have ever been to Derby?

In

The New Aerobicsin the 1970s Dr Kenneth Cooper published points tables representing the aerobic benefit of running specific distances within specific time windows. Does anyone know how to convert those points table into a formula so that the principle can be applied to running any distance within any time?

There's got to be a statistical brain out there somewhere...

Ciaran:

I don't have the chart right here in front of me but I know exactly what you're talking about. It would be an interesting project but I'd be curious, assuming the chart Cooper used is quite accurate, if he covered wide enough of a range in his original (though we're talking about the second edition here...) book. Since 1970s, the dynamics of the sport of running had changed drastically. Basically, in short, so many "slow runners" are running now where as back in 1970s, 3-hour marathon was a performance of "hobby joggers".

We have what we call VO2Max Interview that, for someone who's never run a race, to get a ball-park figure of projected time (in accordance to estimated VO2Max), you can go through a series of about 30 questions and it comes out pretty close (+/-10% or so). One of the questions is the level of daily activities. With the original program, developed by the former Athletics West physiologist and coach, Dick Brown, and I can't remember when he developed this, didn't quite work because, once again, the dynamics of physical activities, not just running, had changed dramatically since, say, 1980s or even 1990s. When I applied the original program to a handful of "guinea pigs" at the club I go to, the projected running time, say 5k, came out waaaaaaaay too fast (I asked people who actually had run a 5k race before and compared the actual time vs. projected time). It turned out that they workout (duh!! I grabbed them at the "club"!!) and they do workout an hour or more each time they come. Most of them lift weights or do some sort of "cardio" workout like elliptical or spin workout. That's good enough as a workout or even cardio workout. However, when you convert that to actual running time, it came out waaaay off. Running involves "pounding" and that's the part, it seems, most people don't take into consideration. Someone who had run a 5k "race" in, say, 32 or 33 minutes and their "projected" 5k time, based on his/her daily activities, came out as something like 24 minutes!! Aerobically, that's probably right or close. But we were looking for the estimated training run pace based on projected race time projected from estimated VO2Max (it starts to sound a lot like "crap-shooting", doesn't it? ;o)). So I had to modify it quite a bit from the original program. It turned out something like 20-30 minutes worth of RUNNING turns out to be approximately 2-hours of any other activity. This is probably quite different from Cooper's formula. I think he was more interested in energy expenditure and aerobic index, which is probably more accurate. But, in our case, we had to find out more practical formula.

So the point is; yes, some sort of statistical research should be done in order to come up with such a chart but, depending on what use, the formula would have to be altered. This has been illustrated quite clearly with the example of Lance Armstrong. He is, no doubt, an aerobic animal and, whatever his VO2Max is/was, should put him in the world record marathon or any distance running event category (I'd guess his VO2Max would be somewhere around 92-94 range???). But he had "only" run a full marathon in about, what, 2:50 or something??? So, in other words, aerobically, his VO2Max must be equivalent of 2:03 marathon but, in reality or in a practical sense, it was "only" 2:50 or so.

Thanks, Nobby415. It looks like it's going to be pretty hard to compare athletic performance in different sports based on VO2 Max. Indeed, in my dog-eared copy of **The New Aerobics** a previous owner has annotated Dr Cooper's Badminton and Rope-skipping tables with the words "You must be kidding!". Controversy abounds!

Having said that, the points system is very useful for planning your weekly running. Most runners (myself included) probably have a weekly mileage target. The drawbacks of aiming for a minimum number of miles per week are such that some writers (I'm thinking of Joe Henderson) talk about having a time-target - so many hours/minutes per week. Dr Cooper's tables are a good compromise here. Irrespective of their non-applicability to other aerobic activities, they could be good for gauging weekly running performance, especially when you are working on your base (which you later tune-up for racing, a la Tom Osler).

Cooper's points do seem to correlate positively with VO2 Max, especially over longer distances, but over shorter distances the relation does not hold.

I recently ran a 1 mile race and got 6:46. Running Ahead shows this as one of my highest VO2 Max scores (about 43, but goodness knows how that is calculated). However, the 10k I ran last weekend in 50 mins only netted me 40 VO2 Max 'points'.

But using Cooper's tables the mile performance is worth 5 points and the 10k performance worth 34 (interpolating between points for 6 miles and points for 6.5 miles). So the correlation is negative when you include short distances.

I know that VO2 Max and Cooper's points are not designed to measure quite the same thing, or rather the same thing but not for the same purpose, but it would be useful if Cooper points could easily be calculated for a run, allowing me to reach 100 points/week without simply increasing my mileage.

Never been to America, but how many of you guys have ever been to Derby?

rjsross

CG: I have Cooper's formulas from the appendix to his aerobics book, and I have programmed them into an excel spreadsheet. While there are many assumptions which are at times tenuous, at worst it gives me a month over month and year o0ver basis for comparison of my efforts. Guess what? Older is slower. I'd be wiling to share but i don;t know how to do this and keep the privacy of this list which is new to me.

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