Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home Front: Conditioning

There is a lot to be said for having a pile of kit and tactical gear, stored supplies and a kick-ass armour plated deathmobile, but having the physical and mental wherewithal to make it through a disaster is a different proposition. What can be done for this beforehand? Well, let's think about that.

Mental preparedness is more about being aware of the situation you are in, the situations you are likely to be in, and the situations that whilst unlikely, are possible. Once you have these three things present, if not clear, in your mind, it should be possible to do something about how you will weather them physically, as well as mentally.

Let's consider some of these ideas. If we just limit ourselves to weather, so as to avoid some twisty political discussions, we can model some of these situations.

Likely: heavy storms, hail, heat, snow
Infrequent: hurricane, blizzards, forest fires,
Extremely unlikely: tsunami, volcano, earthquake, catastrophic storms or fires

Obviously, this is a pretty simplistic list, and the chances of these things affecting you are different depending where you live. I live in Melbourne Australia and as such am pretty earthquake safe (although we have had Some news making 4.0 tremors a few years ago). Likewise, if it snows here it also makes national news. We did however have massive catastrophic fires a few years back. So, you need to adjust your thinking to cover your surrounds, and places you go to visit, and the means you use to get there. I'm sure the recent running-aground and capsizing of a cruise ship off Italy hasn't escaped anyone's notice.

What do you do to prepare yourself for these occurrences? How do you condition yourself to face them? Well, for the likely events, things that you face seasonally, it can be as simple as packing and dressing appropriately, with "layering" in the fine old tradition of "put another layer on/take a layer off and stop complaining". At the same time, I also pack a poncho in my messenger-bag but one could just as conveniently carry an umbrella such as the one I previously put on my Wish-Lust list. A hat, scarf of bandana tucked away, or some gloves can make all the difference between a pleasant day and a miserable one. I tend to wear pants that I can roll up into shorts, and vest (partly to cover up my holster-harness, but also because they are good for modulating my core-body temperature).

How do you plan for the infrequent events? Being aware, and knowledgeable plays an immense part. We have Bushfire Preparedness system in Victoria (which were sorely tested over Black Saturday, but still an excellent resource). Conditioning your self to expect them, and being able to act appropriately is something that only you can do, but is a key element to your ability to "adapt, innovate and overcome" to any situation you may be faced with. This is the philosophy I take whenever I leave the house, and when I close up for the night. Does that make me a survivalist nut? I don't think so, and frankly, I don't care. The difference between having a couple of bottles of water, sunscreen, a blanket and some lights in the car and not, is the difference between a ruined, painful and miserable outing and an adventure!

The biggest and scariest events, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, catastrophic fires and storms are all things that whilst you can plan for, and prepare for, are also the kinds of events that break plans. So your options are to condition yourself so they don't break YOU. What do I do? I do things that are hard. Maybe not hard for you, but hard for me. I sustained an injury last year which precluded me from my regular kendo training for a number of months, but with physio I'm back at it. I train at least once a week at that. I have gotten back into rollerblading as a part of that physio too,

Both these were much more mental obstacles than physical ones, but it was a matter of regaining the courage to face not only my declined fitness, the prospect of pain and degraded proficiency. Getting through that was a matter of will. Perhaps even more do was signing up for the Tough Mudder endurance obstacle course which is coming up and will be a real challenge, both physically and mentally. I'm doing it with a bunch of folks from work, the Funk-a-Mentals, and we're getting into training in earnest. Here's a log of one of our runs, which whilst perhaps not very impressive, is more continuous running than I've ever done before, being more a scrambler than a runner.

Tan at EveryTrail

What I am doing, is running in the kinds of clothes I wear everyday. Cargo shirts, boots and a t-shirt. One of he guys asked why I was running in boots. I told him that that's what I wore all day every day, and that if it was good enough for the Army (and all the Forces) it was good enough for me too.

So, whether you are ready or an invasion or heading into volcano territory. Being both physically ready to cope, and mentally toughened to face what comes, it's up to you and you alone.


  1. Well said my dear. Mental conditioning is important, and it's something I like to think I'm constantly improving as I learn new skills and practice old ones. Gods know I've worked in some pressure situations where I've had to make snap decisions that affect large groups of people and stand by those decisions during implementation, and vice versa where I've been on my own with nothing but my wits and my hands to get the job(s) done.

    But physically I am less able. I am tall and stong, but I am also unfit and accident-prone. I also have a chronic pain condition that makes exercise difficult, although knowing what you went through with your knee I shouldn't whinge. Anyhow, that is my biggest concern for potential future disaster/ apocolypse scenarios. My body regularly lets me down when I'm completing normal duties, and mind over matter can only get you so far...

  2. Quite right, and I've always gone with the principle that any group only moves as fast as its slowest members, and I have a young family....

    then again, -knowing- that, as realizing the limitations it presents is the first step to overcoming it.


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