The Ranger Test

By Deane Barker tags: health

Okay, it’s time to commit to my next fitness goal. Here it is –

At the age of 40, I intend to pass the U.S. Army Ranger entrance exam. This is the physical fitness test you have to pass to be considered for Ranger School. (Keep in mind that this just means you might get to go to the training program, it certainly doesn’t mean to get to actually be a Ranger…)

Why do I want to pass this? I have no idea, really. it’s just a good set of physical fitness goals – each one a bit out of reach now, but not out of the question if I work hard – and the goals are split nicely between endurance and strength.

So, here are the six benchmarks, and how I compare as of today:

  • 49 pushups in two minutes: I’m pretty sure I’ll nail this. As of a month ago, I could do 44, so I don’t think this will be an issue.

  • 59 sit-ups in two minutes: This one is going to be surprisingly hard. I had been doing ab work for a while, so I figured it would be easy, but it’s full, bent-knee, elbows-behind-the-head sit-ups – the kind of which I haven’t done since high school gym. About a month ago, I gave it a shot and got…eight. That sucked, but progress has been good since then, and I’m up to 25 now.

  • Six overhand chin-ups: At first, this one seemed impossible. I have long arms, so I have very little leverage and a long way to pull. But about six months ago, I decided to just keep pulling no matter what and my body would eventually have to respond. As of today, I can do four (…the last one is a little shaky). I’ll get this, and it will likely be the most satisfying of all of them, because it seemed the most out of reach (figuratively and literally) at the beginning.

  • Five mile run in 40 minutes: This will be very hard, but I’ve seen my running improve so much over the last six months. I worked towards getting a 10K (6.2 miles) in less than an hour, which was a 9:40 pace. Since then, I’ve dropped back to five miles, and currently have my pace down to 8:52. To get this, I need to drop it all the way to 8:00, but I’m confident. Progress here is slow, but steady. Winter will slow me down a bit, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get this in the spring.

  • Two mile run in 15 minutes, 12 seconds: I find this requirement a little weird. I don’t know why there are two running tests. Regardless, this works out to a 7:06 7:36 pace. This is super-fast, but my feeling is that if I can do five miles in an 8:00 pace, I should be able to get two miles at 7:06 7:36. But I’ve never tried this, so I might be way off.

  • 16 mile hike with 65 pounds of gear in 5 hours, 20 minutes: I’m pretty confident about this. When I was in the Navy, I served as a medic to a Marine Corps platoon for a while. I hiked a lot with them, and was pretty good at it. I’ve walked 11 miles once before, so I have to extend that, and do it with gear. I have no idea how hard this is, but won’t start training for it until the weather gets better in the spring. The pace is 20:00, or 3 m.p.h.

(There is actually one more test – a water safety test. But it’s pass/fail and involves dropping into the water from a high-dive and some other things that I don’t think I can replicate with my resources, so I removed it.)

So, that’s it. I’m publicly committing to this today. I’ve been toying with the idea for months, but now I’m putting myself on the hook for it.

Wish me luck.

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