During my time spent training for Pararescue Indoc I encountered many different obstacles in as many areas of my life. I know everyone is different in their own unique way, but we’re all on the same playing field when it comes to achieving the best. Whatever the direction it may be we all face obstacles in our pursuits and I know now I’ve had mine. Here are six obstacles I’ve come across and how I’ve handled them.
1) Find A Mentor
When I first decided to become a PJ I didn’t know how to get train for it. I didn’t know if I should hit the weights, spend time running, swimming, reading. What I did was research a little more about them and talked to some people around my church. I ended up meeting someone through a friend who had been through Indoc who was able to set me on the right path.
2) Know Thy Weakness
I am gifted athletically, but have had a bad work ethic. In other words, when I have reached the end of my gifted abilities so then did my workouts end. I love working out — running, swimming, weight lifting — but when it came down to pull-ups and push-ups I was desperate to quit because I wasn’t naturally good at it. What I have found since then is playing mind games has changed everything for me, I’m redefining what I can do. For example, it depends on the workout but when I reach a max set, or if I just feel like quitting, I tell myself “ok, five more,” and after the five I say “Ok, now five more,” and when I am having difficulty reaching the five I say “Ok, three more,” until that particular push-up, or sit-up, workout is complete. This neurological rewiring of what I can do has been difficult but I’m starting to see results. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I’ve been working on and it’s becoming natural. I tell myself to do something, then make it so.
3) Support Structures
My transitions have taken some time. The old lifestyle and habits were not suited to accommodate the new goal-driven lifestyle, but how was I to know about such little details? I would go to bed late, eat whatever I wanted, didn’t drink enough water, and what I did drink was far from healthy. Some of the people I even hung around were not really supportive or healthy to be around, they weren’t good company, and that was huge. We all have been around that one person — or more! — who just sucks the life out of you at every turn. They are emotional leeches convinced everyone is put on this earth to serve them and them alone. My solution there was to just stop hanging around them, as I knew they were not going to change. Eating habits were easier to change because the disciplined training programs I am putting myself through now demand healthy foods choices. My solution there was to at first have a time during the week when I could indulge in something like pizza. The rest of the week I’d eat the good stuff. Eventually I got to the point where I could barely eat anything besides healthy, wholesome foods and drink loads of water. Better food and social choices have really affected my life, but it all comes in time.
4) Training Buddy
I can get short-sighted and lazy without someone to workout with. I skip my training plans, sleep in. Back home I was fortunate to have someone willing to put the time and effort into training me, a 19-year old kid who didn’t even have a clue what he was getting into. I have a much better understanding of what it is like in the Pararescue career field, which is good motivation in itself, but sometimes it is just nice to have someone to help push you to your limits, beyond, and compete with, plus it is sometimes safer when you have a workout partner. A good workout partner should be someone you trust with keeping you safe, say from a shallow water black out, and motivated as well.
5) Money and Limitations
While I did have a steady source of income back home, my trainer friend was on a limited budget, so we had to improvise on a few things. The biggest challenge was finding a pool we could use. Gym memberships are expensive, and an impractical choice since I would only need one for 6 months or so. It took some research but I instead found a network of available public pools. Though gym memberships were an easy go-to choice, the public pools turned out to be a way better choice: deeper pools, Masters Swim clubs and workouts. We happened to find a local park we’d run to. The park had a bench, pull-up bar, a track — it was perfect! On some of our runs we’d find a tree branch strong enough and do pull-ups on, stop and do flutter kicks, push-ups. We were able to scout out some really good spots for workouts and we had our pick of mountains to choose from on ruck days. Money is only an issue when we make an issue of it so I encourage you to look around and use your imagination.
6) Commitment to Myself and The Long Goal
I would set impossible expectations for myself. I had all these day dreams and fantasies about being a PJ: the honor and glory of saving lives, making my family proud, feeling good about myself. But I forgot one simple, key, factor — I was still me. I was just a 19-year old kid at the very beginning of his journey, not even in the middle working the job. Because I put such unreal expectations on myself, expectations out of step in my journey, I would get angry and frustrated. I forgot how to enjoy the small victories like when I started running six-minute miles, or could hold my breath for two minutes, or when I could do fifty push-ups without stopping. My stats may not sound impressive, but looking back they were important milestones I wasn’t able to enjoy, or be that motivated by, because I was too focused on someone I wasn’t. So stop for a minute, relax. Every once in a while you should take a look at what you are doing and how far you’ve come. Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments but keep the end in perspective.
Mike, Editor-Read Rhys story here about failing Pararescue Indoc: HERE
(Image of my buddy Tranquillo jumping at Moffett Airbase in California)
(Image of bracelet from fallenherobracelets.com)
Originally published on: Aug 25, 2015
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