Last night I did something I hadn't done for at least 15 years - possibly longer: the dreaded Bleep Test.
To be honest I'd thought that, along with New Kids on the Block, the Bleep Test had disappeared into oblivion in the mid-nineties but no, it appears that, like that much maligned American boy band, it's making a comeback - at least it is in Chesham.
For the uninitiated (and I doubt there are that many of you) the Bleep Test is a continuous running exercise designed to test your VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake), in other words your cardio-vascular fitness.
The idea is that cones are set up 20 metres apart and the victims run back and forth between the cones in tempo with a pre-recorded bleep. The tempo increases every minute and the infernal bleeps come closer together and the basic idea is that you keep running until you can't keep up.
After you've collapsed in a heap you're given a score based on which level you've reached. I made it to level 7 which either means that my training partner lost count or, as is more likely, that my cardio fitness is seriously lacking. Given that I'm sure that back in the middle ages I made it to at least level 11, my score last night was a pretty damning indictment of what age, beer and a sedentary lifestyle can do to your body. If cornered I'd argue that the test hardly reflected the fitness required for rugby (at least not the way I play it) but I'd be clutching at straws.
To put things into context, apparently the Springboks in 2007 expected scores for the test to range from 11.5 for the props up to 13.5 for the backs (although a couple of our young whipper-snappers made it past that mark), English rugby legend Martin Johnson is said to have achieved level 14 in his playing days (we are not worthy) and rumour has it that Neil Back actually completed the test through to level 23 (inhuman).
For those who are masochistic enough to want to hear how the test sounds, click here.