Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hard Training

I like to think I take my training seriously. My scheduled training includes three martial arts classes each week. One of those is a double-length session. Three mornings out of each week, I get up at 5:30 am and go for a mile run. There's also at least ten minutes a day in which I do push-ups and sit-ups. I have unscheduled training too... I walk up stairs at work rather than take an elevator. I concentrate on my walking; which means I'm concious of my posture, balance and body movement. And I try to take advantage of other opportunities to practice some skill -- even if that means sneaking up on somebody.

Now, I think that counts as taking training "seriously," but that doesn't necessarily mean it's "Hard" training. Oh, sometimes a "hard" session is mixed into my regular martial arts classes unexpectedly. But, realistically, my training isn't consistently "hard."

But then, as I've said before in this blog... I'm not a shoot-and-looter or First Tier operator. My fitness training is for health maintenance, and to stay ahead of the average shlub. Those are my most likely enemies.

But I do need to keep in mind that somewhere, someone is training harder than I am, and if we meet... If we compete... I will lose.

Take for instance the young man I saw running along the side of the road last Sunday (after posting my blog entries). Nothing special about that you say?

Try this on for size... It was 90 degrees with high humidity. The young man was double timing it down the side of bare blacktop, choking in the exhaust of passing cars, and dressed in BDU pants, and wearing a full size ALICS pack sagging from added weight. He did not look like the average jogger; because he wasn't the average jogger.

He was prepping for Ranger School.

How can I be sure? Well, I can be pretty sure, because I've seen it before. The first time was (way) back in college. My roommate, a ROTC cadet, put between 60 to 75 pounds of dead weight in his ruck sack, dressed in his BDU pants, and pulled on his most broken -in pair of jungle boots before disappearing into the Appalachian foothills for hours of roadmarch. He went to Ranger School the same summer he graduated -- while most of our class was still hanging out at the beach chasing bikinis and sipping fruity drinks.

A few years later, I saw another young man hustling down the road outside my hometown wearing BDUs, and bent over under a heavy ruck. He was wearing jogging shoes -- they'd changed the rules you see. Too many good candidates were washing out with leg and foot injuries from all those marches in combat boots.

Last week marks the third Ranger candidate I've seen prepping for the notoriously tough Army school. There's an Army base not too far away, but it isn't staffed with any combat arms soldiers, so we don't have all that many potential Rangers training in my hometown. I'd guess the two I've seen are either National Guard infantrymen, or home on leave and being consistent with their training. I'm sure some towns near infantry bases see plenty of these kids hoofing it down the road under their loads, but we're not one of them.

God bless these kids. Not only have they volunteered for some of the toughest training in the military, but they are preparing for it with little outside support. It's real easy to slow down the pace, or skip a day, or choose to play video games instead of do a solo roadmarch with extra weight. How conspicuous do you think these kids feel in their distinctive uniform and giant backpack? Despite the camouflage, these kids aren't blending into the background like most joggers.

And what's the reward for this self-torture? A little sliver of black and gold cloth, and an annotation in a personnel file. Oh... and pride.

My best wishes to the kid I saw last weekend. God bless you and keep you as you strive for your goal.

No comments: