Ask Stew: All Prepared – Now What Should My Focus Be?

A Navy SEAL instructor watches as BUD/S students participate in surf drill training at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon

If you are considering joining the regular military or special ops programs, both require ample time preparing specifically not to just get TO the training, but to get THROUGH the training.

Depending on the program you are preparing for and your current fitness level, the timeline maybe long before you are Ready To Serve. This Ask Stew question comes from a special ops candidate moving through the pipeline:

Stew, I am about to get to BUD/S, fully rebuilt after some getting out of shape during boot camp – Thanks to BUD/S Prep Course! Now what? What should me focus be in the next few months before hell week and during the remaining months of training? Thanks - Sam

Sam, congrats on getting selected, now the hard part comes. It sounds like you are well prepared, got your weaknesses dealt with during your preparation phase, now it is game time.

This next phase is not that different from in-season training when on a sports team. You will want to focus on testing well, maintaining your fitness, but most importantly – RECOVERY! You need to be actively pursuing recovery every day. That means eating well, sleeping well, hydrating, electrolytes, working in flexibility and mobility throughout and at the end of each day to help you deal with the physical stresses of BUD/S.

Unwind Both Mentally and Physically

Strive to destress every day and especially on the weekends - not just from the physical stresses of BUDS but even typical daily stress of failing, being punished for screwing up, and constant negative feedback.

You have to be mentally checked in to learn from any feedback received as you will find some are warranted and some are to just test you mentally. You have a steep learning curve when going through training, make sure you are capable of making these mental and physical adjustments on the fly. This ability will help not to become frustrated and you will perform better the next time because of it.

But there are some things that will help you deal with the stresses of training. These are over the counter products that are allowed in training:

  • Foam Roller – great for self massage sore joints and muscles
  • Lacrosse ball for more of a focused point of sore muscle pain
  • Water / Electrolytes: You need water everyday – more if you sweat profusely (replenish sodium, potassium, magnesium). Chicken Noodle Soup – when in a crunch it is a good method to get protein, electrolytes, carbs, good fats, etc.
  • Ice: Ice packs, ice baths, cold wraps/sleeves, cold water and contrasts baths. Help reduce swelling – increase blood flow through natural warming process.
  • Gear: Compression pants, sleeves, vibration tool (Orbital car buffer, Thera-gun, platforms) are more options to help with blood flow

On weekends, you could consider outsourced services/gear: Float Tank, Pneumatic Compression Therapy, massage, bodywork, chiropractic care, acupuncture, dry needling (if injury – not for general recovery). But the two best options is to eat well and sleep well. These other options are great, but the majority of your ability to recover will come from sleep and nutrition. You cannot use supplements during training, focus on real food.

Other articles to reference:

5 Ways to De-Stress

Recovery Tools of the Trade

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