In the last episode, I discussed a hierarchy for buying equipment. At the lowest level was the fundamentals and everyday carry (EDC). The hierarchy worked it’s way up from there to include a variety of patrolling, survival, observation, and combat equipment. Throughout the entire thing, I tied it to the importance of seeking training on how to use the equipment effectively.
There’s an important element that I did not discuss in that episode, though, and one that we’re touching on today. This actually came up in the accompanying live stream that I did with that episode, which you’ll find on the YouTube channel. Towards the end of that stream, as we got into Q&A- the topic of physical fitness came up, and I shared a few thoughts.
Let’s go a little deeper today.
Revisiting Tactical Fitness
One of the pillars of the Everyday Marksman philosophy is fitness. Tactical fitness is a combination of lots of disciplines, from strength to endurance, speed, and flexibility. A tactical athlete, to borrow a phrase, is a generalist.
Even within the field of tactical athletes, there are subsets. I once asked Rob Shaul of the Mountain Tactical Institute about this, and he explained his approach.
I highlighted this particular quote, because Rob mentioned “Green” athletes. In his color coding system, green indicates infantry, land-based special operations, wildland firefighters, and rural law enforcement.
This represents the target for all of us. To be someone who can lift, ruck, sprint, climb, and survive in tough environments. This also ties back to the gear hierarchy I mentioned before. If you’re going to buy the gear, then you also need to be able to carry the gear.
Three Reasons to Be Fit
Now for the meat of the episode. We’re braking down three reasons, or domains, that you need keep in mind. We’re not talking about vanity reasons, like looking swole to impress…well…anyone. We’re talking the nitty gritty reasons to be fit for everyday life, especially in an emergency situation like Scenario X.
The domains break down to the following:
- Combat capability
- Health & Durability
- Developing Mental Grit
Not everything we’re saying here applies only to muscular strength and endurance. Fitness is a holistic concept encompassing several domains.
I want to talk about the Falklands War for a minute. In 1982, the United Kingdom engaged in a conflict with Argentina over two British territories in the South Atlantic. Without getting into the details of why it happened, I’ll simply state that the conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender. The reason that I’m talking about it is the actions of British troopers on the ground were a testament to their level of physical fitness.
There are similar stories from other units as well, aside from Commando unit. The “Mogadishu Mile” from the ill-fated operation Gothic Serpent in 1993 come to mind.
The bottom line is that your level of physical fitness directly impacts your ability to get the job done. If you’re too weak, have poor conditioning, or otherwise can’t “keep up” then you will suffer the consequences.
A lot of people talk a big game, but simply don’t know how they would actually respond. As quick test, go ahead and strap on a 50 lb weighted ruck and see how many times you can dash 10 yards, drop into a pushup, get up and repeat.
Health and Durability
During a recent live stream, Doc Larsen of One Shepherd made a point that fitness in the military isn’t only about getting the mission accomplished. A lot of it comes down to your ability to recover from sickness, poor weather, or even getting injured in the field. I’ve highlighted the moment it came up here:
In Body by Science, the authors make another point about strength and fitness that I thought was relevant to our survival situation. In ballistics, the fastest the bullet will ever be is as it exits the muzzle. From there, it’s going to fly as well as it can based on the starting energy. If you think about health the same way, the best condition you’re going to be in is just before the situation kicks off.
At best, you can try and maintain what you have through some form of exercise- even though you aren’t likely to get as good of nutrition and sleep. At worst, in a dire health emergency like sickness or getting shot, how much muscle you have correlates to how long you’re going to survive.
The bottom line is this: the stronger and fitter you are today, then the longer you will survive. That’s true not just of emergencies, but studies even show the relationship between consistent exercise and reduced instances of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and more.
Developing Mental Grit
This section is short, but important. Way back when I talked to Mike Moore about survival, he made a comment about developing grit and the will to press on. The only way I know of to develop that willpower, the grit, is to regularly challenge yourself to succeed.
One of the easiest ways to start challenging yourself is through fitness. There’s a lot to be said for someone who sets a goal and pursues it every day in the gym. You cannot get stronger without stressing your body repeatedly so that it adapts. At sufficient intensities, it’s as much a mental game as it is a physical one.
When you are accustomed to testing yourself over and over again, whether it is in the gym or at events like GoRuck, Spartan Races, or any other physical challenge- then you are in a much better position to succeed in other areas of life.