Training to Survive

Why do we train? Aesthetics? Physical and mental health? Overall self-improvement? Yes, I suppose we train for all these reasons. 

But what if our training had a deeper intention? What if the meaning of our training was defined by the very foundation of our DNA? That is, what if we trained for our own survival? How much harder could we push? 

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a group of Navy Seals to discuss, amongst other things, their physical training and how it applied to their operations. BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) is a 24-week training course designed to simulate the physical and mental rigors of asymmetrical warfare. The first 7 weeks of the course is dedicated to physical conditioning. To paraphrase the Seals we spoke with, it pushes one past exhaustion to where the performance of the acts required is physically and mentally impossible. And yet, he finds a way to execute.

We asked for examples from the field when this aspect of BUD/S training determined success. And they gave it. Without betraying the specifics of these stories, there were moments when physical training – exercise – allowed for their survival on the battlefield. 

The next time you are working out, imagine this is your reality. Imagine that your effort in that moment will determine if you live or die. What you’ll find is a certain emotional – indeed, spiritual – vigor that ignites your muscles and your mind to a point you did not know existed. Perhaps you will not achieve the same level of exhaustion as a Seal during BUD/S, or on the battlefield, but you might get a taste of it, and if and when you push past, perhaps you will also taste just a bit of the impossible. 

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