I had a successful drill weekend this past month, and I’m coming up on another one very soon. Drill weekends involve a lot of physical effort as well as stamina and mental strength. We stay up long hours, perform arduous tasks, accomplishing tasks that we have to practice to enable use to perform those same tasks in hostile environments. It takes good physical fitness to be able to perform these tasks, and as someone who is over 50, that means my body is really put to the test as compared to the 20-something year olds.
How did I do? I held up. I kept up. In many cases, I led the way. I am, by no means, the strongest, fastest, or most fit, but I am near the top. I strive to lead from the front, and to lead by example. That means lifting heavy things, running to and from tasks, and being proactive when something needs to be done and not just waiting to find a Soldier to perform a task.
Three years ago, there would have been no way for me to even step food into the boots I’m wearing today. I was so obese and physically unfit that just getting from the hardball (roadway) to the camp area would have killed me. Now, I walk that distance easily with a full pack, gas mask, and weapon while wearing a helmet and protective vest. The strength I possess today eclipses where I was three years ago.
I definitely feel younger. Sure, there are moments when I’m sore or aching and wondering what the heck am I, an old man, doing out there playing with the young kids. But then I remember that I am only as old as I allow myself to feel, because when I push myself and my body, I am able to do as much, if not more, than I did when I was 30. I feel great, I feel strong, and I feel capable. That my physical abilities back up how I feel is a wonderful thing.
I continue to eat well and exercise to keep my body ready for duty. It seems kind of funny some days when I’m running and I think about the amount of effort I put into being fit for that one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year. It seems like I’m doing more physical activity outside of drill then I do at drill, but then these field exercises happen and remind me of why I do all those runs and push ups. Why I do the kettlebells. Why I eat right.
And do you know what? I’m glad that I do. I wouldn’t trade how good it feels to not be limited by a lack of physical fitness in the field. It feels glorious.