Troops and veterans often check their social media accounts to find their civilian friends from home posting photos of their latest foray into fun runs or obstacle courses.
This gives troops the idea of joining in on the fun — and why not? The troops may not always win, but you can be damn sure they'll come out in the top ten percent. And it looks even more impressive when they do it while covered in enough mud to hide from the Predator.
Coincidentally, troops can put their awesome ass-kicking skills to the test when Spartan Race returns to military installations this summer.
And we do it while hungover.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson)
Morning PT is much harder than most normal workouts
Barring any physical restriction, troops always keep themselves at peak physical performance. They're not out there bragging about that one time they went to the gym (in early January), they're out there every morning doing what they must to remain fit.
And while it may seem like the combat arms units are working harder than support units, the fact is that even the guys in, say, the motor pool, are still getting a much more difficult workout on a daily basis than most dudes collecting selfies at the gym.
Then, after morning PT, we go hard AF in the gym — meaning that civilians are screwed.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C. Henninger)
Morning PT is well-rounded
One of the biggest mistakes of fitness newcomers is that they focus in on one aspect of training. They target one muscle and they go hard. Sure, it's great that you can curl the bells on the bottom rack, but it's laughable that you think you'll look like Arnold by skipping leg day.
Obstacle courses don't exclusively require lifting heavy things and putting them down. To find real success, you need to max out your entire body. It just so happens that much of what's required to dominate an obstacle course is built into the morning PT schedule.
Despite what people with a fear of heights think, this tower is actually a rest opportunity.
(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
We've got the technique
Which brings us to the actual obstacle course itself. You'll be hard-pressed to find a course that doesn't include the classic "low crawl under barbed wire" and a sheer wall to climb. If you've never attempted either of these, prepare to be gassed.
The biggest secret about obstacle courses is that it requires brain more than it does brawn. Almost anyone can climb a rope if they know the proper technique (curl the rope onto one of your feet and step on it with the other, clinching it so you don't fall). We know how to climb, crawl, and run with the best of them.
And when an obstacle calls for physical strength, well... see points one and two above.
Coordination without communication
Some obstacle courses require teamwork. Civilians, in general, will waste precious time figuring out how to approach a challenge while the troops just nod at each other and instinctively know.
This isn't magic. This is because troops have worked for so long and so hard with their fellow troops that words aren't needed. Years of training means that you know what your squadmates' weaknesses are and who among you has the strength to negate them.
Take a look at the video below. You'll see troops first lift the strong guys, followed by the weaker guys, followed finally by the two who can complete the obstacle themselves.
Failure is not an option
Typically, there isn't some big cash prize at the end. Being the first to complete an obstacle course out in the middle of nowhere isn't going to land you any product endorsements (probably). Most people are there test themselves and have a good time.
Troops, on the other hand, take everything as a challenge because, in our minds, second place really means, "first place loser." Even if the grand prize is just some plastic trophy that'll sit on the back of a shelf, you best believe that troops are going for it. To us, that piece of plastic spells victory.
If you feel like showing the world what you can do, check out the Spartan Race and see if it's coming to your installation!