Why do you train?
It seems like a simple enough question on the surface, right? For my job, or for my health, or for sport, or so I don’t get fat and sick? But if you dig deeper, is there something else that motivates you to push through the barrier that stops most people from turning off Netflix, and heading out to do some PT? Many of the contributors to this site are active duty military or veterans of active service and I think that influence will be reflected in the training plans, and blogs they post. Many of us have spent years training at the margins to be prepared to perform at our absolute best when it matters most, able to ignore personal loss, and pain to accomplish mission tasking. This approach to training isn’t for everyone, and here at Apex Predator Athletics we feel it is important to recognize the training goal, and fitness level of each of the contributors as it relates to you. A tactical athlete working up to a down range deployment will have significantly different volume and intensity programed then an 18 year old entering college level athletic competition for the first time
For years I trained to be ready to save a life at a moments notice with no regard for my own personal safety and well being. I was explaining to one of our athletes recently that I could go from full uniform to a wet suit, booties, harness, and LPU-28 (An emergence floatation device pictured above) in 3 minutes during my time as the primary SAR swimmer on USS Crommelin (FFG37). That is a skill that took consistent practice and maintenance, which often meant training required going through the motions at night when everyone else was asleep, and when I wasn’t on watch. A deployed swimmer is given little to no time during the workday to train themselves and their boat teams, so to be truly ready for action when the shit goes down you must make time even when it takes away from sleep or leisure. Once my S-1 nerve became impacted early in the deployment (I knew my L5 disc had herniated back at RSS a few weeks before, the S-1 was just icing on the cake), I had to learn how to continue to perform at that level even though now every bend and shimmy sent electric fire through my body. How did I train through the pain? I thought about how much pain the potential survivor in the water could be in, that they were bobbing alone, and afraid in the middle of an angry sea, and I may be their only hope to survive. In my soul I knew I could do it, so I kept my mouth shut and completed the deployment. That is a tremendous amount of pressure to put on yourself, and to sacrifice personal comfort and health to protect others is not something everyone is willing to do. Do I ever ask myself if I made the right choice putting myself through so much pain and potentially risking life long injury to finish the deployment and look after the crew? No. I was born to be a SAR swimmer, I considered myself to be one of the best in the fleet, thats just what I had to do.
Today I train for a different reason, and it was a pretty difficult adjustment to make. When you pile on the pressure and tempo its easy to burn yourself out, but when you stop cold turkey it can be devastating to your motivation. My “pre-workout” used to be thinking of a scenario where lives were on the line and let me tell you it makes it impossible to quit on a session even if you over programed. And I always over programmed because it was a culture badge of honor to beat yourself to a pulp daily. I was the king of thinking that the only valid workout was one that made me vomit multiple times and left me sore for days after.
Now a days I try to design my fitness lifestyle around what I want to do, and what I can do without too much discomfort in my shoulders. I don’t need to train through pain anymore, so I do my best not too. I do however still train through discomfort, and there is a difference that you can only know when you have been there. Pain is not weakness leaving the body! Pain means something is seriously wrong and if you are not in a real life and death scenario you should SHUT IT DOWN and go see doc! Discomfort on the other hand is harder to define, and for people like me it gets pretty close to pain but the difference is whether its is acute or chronic.
So the real reason I train is to be ready. Ready for the impending Zombie Apocalypse, ready to respond if I see someone drowning in the undertow at the beach, ready to thrive and survive in adverse situations and environments, and of course ready squat at a moments notice.
So I ask the Apex Predator Athletics community, why do you train? We would love to hear from our rapidly expanding reader base, and we are still looking for blog contributors. Please feel free to email us firstname.lastname@example.org