Thursday, January 4, 2018

FIGHTING THE FROST GIANTS

OK Team - Lets pull it into a circle, everybody take a knee. Smoke 'em if you got 'em and lissen Up . . .

Its the New Year. January is named after the Roman god Janus, from the Latin Januarius "of Janus". Janus was the Roman god of gates and doorways, and of beginnings and ends.


On the subject of Beginnings, somebody asked me for advice; he's going for Special Forces Selection & Assessment. What kind of workouts should he be doing? Well he came to the right man because over the past six months, I designed a Selection & Assessment program for an Eastern European nations' own Special Forces, then picked up a new contract that involves a selection & assessment of its own, a training program and a rather significant physical fitness standard in the Statement of Work. This is timely for me because I've been personally training over the past year for a long distance endurance event involving boots and rucksacks and LOTS of miles on the feet, so I'm in a position to give good advice in this department.

First of all, anyone interested in attending Special Forces Assessment & Selection is going to have to do LOTS of ruck marching to get their body used to carrying the weight. Please be aware that the Special Forces pace for a ruck march is four miles an hour. Thats a fifteen minute mile - practically running - with at least 55lbs on your back. The terrain around Camp Mackall is all sand (its the "Sandhills" - right? Used to be an ancient seabed) and that sand grabs your ankles and makes rucking harder there than anywhere except the desert. Nobody ruckmarches like Special Forces - it is our signature move. I suggest lots of flutterkicks, and lots of squats to build up your thigh muscles and hip flexors.

Flutterkicks are performed with your fists under your butt and chin on chest to take the strain off the lower back. I wrap a towel around my fists to get some more elevation on and so I don't crush my hands.

In training for this kind of activity, I do my squats with between 70 to 140 pounds on the bar, about five sets of sixteen reps, at least three times a week. On a weightlifting routine to prep for Selection, I recommend using lighter weights and go for more repetitions. The idea is to build up endurance kind of core strength; its weight lifting to compound your performance, not body building. Body building is actually counterproductive to athletic performance and flexibility because you're packing on weight while your heart and lungs remain the same size - weight that you'll later have to push down the trail.

To prep for Selection, you need a plan. Over the course of three months of conditioning there will be plateaus, peaks & valley. The plan is to hit a high plateau in the week(s) before Selection, then be moving toward that peak just as you start. You don't want to be at a pinnacle of fitness because that is when the body becomes fine tuned, almost a delicate state and prone to injury. The overall goal is a kind of core strength of the endurance variety that can be drawn upon so that when faced with an extreme physical challenge - like an event that takes place over several days - during the course of the event performance is there (you will feel the pain) but afterward there is not damage or injury.

Ability to bounce back and go into the next thing is crucial - because there WILL be a Next Thing. Foot movements will be between four to six to twelve miles - they'll never tell you the distance, they'll just keep telling you to keep driving on - and will be immediately followed by some kind of heinous physical challenge when you arrive at your destination. Imagine ruck-running for an hour or two or three with 55lbs on your back, and when you get to where you're going, the cadre begin a "thrash session": drop and do twenty-five pushups at the four count. Now on your backs and do flutterkicks, twenty-five at the four count. Right, now roll over and do pushups; twenty-five at the four count. And it goes on, and on and on for at least forty minutes. Either that, or they make you haul logs around or some other sadistic medieval technique designed to defeat your spirit and crush your soul. OK, take a break, get cleaned up, grab some chow. In six hours we'll do it all over again - and nobody tells you how far you're going to have to march or what's waiting for you on the other end.

If you can hang in there and survive this kind of punishment, you're Special Forces material.

Now just to show you I put my money where my mouth is - literally - this is what my workday entailed, starting out yesterday morning at zero dark thirty: six mile ruck/run with 20+ lbs body armor, plus 35+ lbs rucksack for 55 lbs total. Going up those hills in that super cooled air, it really hurt the heart & lungs, I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack.


We followed that creek 6 miles ... went up & down hills ... heart attack terrain... the creek is frozen solid in most places .... except where we had to cross it - in those places it was wet and deep enough to saturate our boots. And of course we practically ran the whole way, because that is our signature move - Rucksack Death Marches from Hell.

The body armor added a dimension of suckage to it that is simply ... indescribable ... The damn body armor constricts the chest so you can't draw a full breath, which makes huffing & puffing up those hills even harder still. Between that and the rucksack straps pulling your shoulders back, its like being crucified with a 55 lb monkey on your back while having a heart attack and marching on wet frozen stumps of meat over uneven terrain in the dark so cold you can't feel your face ... all at the same time ... for 3+ hours ...

Why do I do it? I do it because I gotta do it, gotta embrace the suck. I do it because what I learned after I retired from active duty is that "Special Forces is Forever" is more than a recruiting slogan. Like they told me three decades ago at Camp Mackall: "You think it's over? You think its over? . . .

. . . it ain't NEVER OVER ! ! !

STORMBRINGER SENDS

2 comments:

  1. Well, in that case, thanks for dropping by in transit, and for the New Year's motivation.

    Best wishes at Camp Heart Attack.

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