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Ask Stew: Preparing For the Shock of BUD/S


Stew, First and foremost I'd like to say thank you. Thanks for all the training resources you've provided, in particular the BUD/S prep you have done. I just received my Special Operation (SO) contract this week. I was talking to a family friend who is an MD for the navy, He told me I would be at a severe disadvantage since I live in the Midwest and am not used to the culture or the beach. He has offered to help me get used to this culture - but I really want your take on this.

How can I best prepare myself for the shock on my body in an environment I'm not used to? Anything particular I should be doing aside from working out every day, hard, and mobility? Any advice or words of wisdom you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I know there's no secret sauce to all of this, and want to give it hell, but with a few months until I ship I want to be as prepared as I can.

Thanks, Doug

Good question. However, I think the doc is generalizing it to a degree. You may look at it as many people from the Midwest with no beach experience as being at a disadvantage, but I know many kids who have made it through whose first time in the ocean was at BUDS. The culture of the West Coast is different, but you are on a Navy base with thousands from all over the U.S., so the West Coast culture is not that noticeable the closer you are to the bases in Coronado and San Diego.

As far as the ocean -- the ocean salty, cold, and dark at night. Temperatures range from 55-70 degrees so it is NOT freezing, but is never warm. If you can handle that, you can handle the shock of the ocean. Soft sand running is tough. While at pre-BUDS, you can get to the Great Lakes beaches and run on soft sand if you have not done that. Otherwise, I would not sweat it. Everything is going to be a shock. Cold water, sandy all the time, instructors yelling at you, how much running matters, and weight of the boats and logs. There are many things to worry about other than the ocean. That is the easy one if you ask me, as it is always a constant -- cold and dark.

To be honest, handling a new culture is part of growing up and moving away from home. I always recommend people with similar goals as you to experience some life away from home before you join the military. This way you get over the homesickness while living on your own and working or in college. Taking a few years to mature before BUD/S is my advice to all 18 year olds. But, I am generalizing, as this recommendation is formed against years of statistics that many quitters in each class are teenagers. Just my 2 cents.



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Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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