Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Preparing for the PREP

Let me start by saying this was the most challenging portion of the entire process for me. In May of 2007 I was out of shape and approximately forty to fifty pounds overweight. I rarely did aerobic exercise as I simply didn’t have time. The first time I took the PREP, I failed. I was able to pass the circuit but dropped out of the shuttle run at only four and a half. I had two months to prepare for the PREP and let myself down, I felt horrible however, I did pass both my PATI and WCT that day so I had some feeling of accomplishment. You can retest on the PREP immediately but I waited two months, spent the entire summer preparing and when I went back in, I aced the PREP, in fact, I kept running after 6.5 because I want to be sure I had passed! Let me firstly tell you that the way I prepared for the PREP originally was not right, I began by running outdoors, trying to run 1.4 miles in under eleven minutes. This was all wrong because I was running on the sidewalk and really didn’t understand how to better my body and heart through running or other aerobic exercise. After three or four of my runs I downloaded the beep test and tried running it on my own in a parking lot, effectively giving myself shin splints. It was horrible and I could barely walk that day or for the rest of the next day. I spent that next day with my feet up researching and reading about running, what I found is that running wasn’t right for me now, I would do more damage than good pounding my legs against a hard surface so I instead began using a stationary bicycle while my legs healed and then moved to power walking, I power walked with a heart rate monitor, every time and kept a close eye on my heart rate never letting it drop below 140 beat per minute. This was of course after my five minute stretch and warm-up then about five minutes worth of slower walking just to get my heart rate going. I would then walk for just short of two hours, six days a week. I also found that being an effective runner has a lot to do with shoe selection and I highly recommend visiting a place that specializes in helping you purchase shoes like the Running Room. Also, a heart rate monitor is a necessity, you need to train above a specific threshold, there are standardized formulas for these training zones how I suggest you simply aim for 80% of your maximum heart rate. Here is the most important part though, once you’ve achieved 65% of your maximum heart rate, the clock begins you should now stay at this level for twenty minutes, more if you can. By maintaining a heart rate of 65% and above for twenty minutes consistently you better your heart and your lung capacity. TestReadyPro offers a very unique service which everyone should take advantage of, the TRP Training Day. At this training day event you will go through the circuit, learn how the machinery works and get comfortable with techniques to best perform the circuit and then run the shuttle run and talk about how you did. I once attended this training day and learnt a great interval training exercise that I still use when I’m feeling. Alternatively, if maintaining a consistent heart rate is too difficult you should also try this method of interval training. Run as fast and hard as you can for fifteen seconds, now walk, do not stop for forty five seconds, run again as hard and fast as you can for fifteen seconds, now walk for another forty five seconds. Repeat this whole process 10 times, meaning you will run 20 times and walk to recover 20 times. This is a twenty minute exercise and will help you to get your heart and lungs in shape for the shuttle run. The unfortunate thing about the shuttle run is it expires every six months so, every six months you must go back in and retest the entire PREP. It is key to stay in shape as your PREP will most likely expire once before you get hired. Also, keep in mind your PREP must remain active through the entire hiring process, this is right up until you go to Aylmer (Ontario Police College).

This winter has been long and I have really missed being able to hit the trails outside and enjoy an hour or two run a day. If you insist on doing aerobic exercise indoors whether it be running, power walking, or bicycling then, when you use the treadmill put it on an incline, this gives you a resistance, when you run the shuttle run the floor doesn’t move for you and you will find running off of a treadmill is much harder than running on one. Also, if you’re overweight like I was when I started running or are worried about your shin splints, knees etc. start by bicycling or using an elliptical, elliptical’s are a fantastic device and great for targeting quads, burning fat and really getting your lungs and heart in shape. The best part about the elliptical is it targets all the areas you need to work on to better yourself as a runner but is not detrimental to your body.

My final thoughts on preparing for the PREP and exercise in general. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, get a gym membership and work with a personal trainer who will set goals and push you to do your best. Also, you can make time to exercise, get up earlier, record your favourite TV show and watch it on your day off of work, whatever it takes, make the time to exercise as you need to keep yourself in top physical shape. I found that once I made exercising part of my daily routine, it's something when I miss it, my body tells me, I feel antsy like I need to have my run or get at least a half hour on the elliptical. Also, keep in mind that the exercise is something good that your doing for your body and ultimately yourself.

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