By Alise Post
“Hey ladies, what do you think about training with the Navy SEALs for a day?”
“Oh heck yeah! The track and field people did that and said it was so hard a lot of people had to ‘tap out.’ I wanna see if I’ve got what it takes!”
When I accepted this offer from USOC Sports Psych Wendy Borlabi, it was definitely my competitive side speaking. After hearing about the difficulty of the training, of course I wanted to test my abilities (because that’s what athletes do…they compete–in EVERYTHING!). And honestly, I also wanted to prove to myself that I am just as tough as the big crazy meatheads who yell all the time just to put fear in people; that’s the kind of people I thought Navy SEALs were. However I learned a lot about the approach and reasoning behind their training, and actually gained a lot of respect for what they do, and the kind of person it takes to become a SEAL.
I won’t lie that I went into this pretty nervous, but was still confident that with my history in sport, and Arielle and Brooke right there with me, I would be able to push through just fine. My confidence however, was tested immediately when we got to the base in Coronado and started with a “light” run up and down a giant sand berm over to the classroom. Every one of us was already panting pretty heavily at this point, and sadly I questioned if I would actually be able to make it through the whole day in those first 10 minutes.
When we got into the classroom though, my emotions took another turn. I was completely inspired by their stories, and explanation to why they were so hard on their soldiers, because in all actuality it related a lot to the mentality of sport. They physically break their soldiers down to the point that their bodies can no longer function without using mental toughness. They force them to use the power of the mind, while under pressure, so they can prove they have what it takes under any circumstances to perform their tasks. As if that doesn’t sound familiar enough to an athlete’s mentality, they talked about some of the techniques they use to get through tough times: goal setting, visualization, motivational self-talk, and breathing. It was great to hear these things, then directly apply them to a situation completely out of my comfort zone and see how well I was able to cope.
We started with the giant obstacle course (O-course), which I found myself to get through without too much of a struggle. Having gained some confidence back, I had high hopes for the rest of the day. Then, when we moved into running over sand berms, carrying logs and boats, and being covered from head to toe in 10lbs water weight and 10 lbs sand (that was blinding you with no way to rub it off), all while being timed and with limited hydration, my emotions took yet another turn. It took a ton of mental toughness, not only to get through MY day…but also to support my teammates and help them get through theirs, as they were helping me. Brooke, Arielle, and I suffered a lot of pain together that day, and I believe we created a bond through that which will only help us work together to become the best we can be down the road.
I thank the Navy SEALs for the emotional roller coaster ride of a lifetime and teaching me a lot about my teammates, and myself. I gained a lot of respect for what they, and all military, do day in and day out. I will carry the values they taught me throughout my BMX career and everyday life.
Oh, and I guess I’d also like to thank them for making me the sorest I’ve ever been as well =)