Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stronger People are Harder to Kill-Both Physically and Mentally

Over the past couple weeks I have heard several different variations of "Strong People Are Harder to Kill Than Weak People" . There is a lot of truth in that saying. I know from personal experience in direct combat environments as well as do countless other combat veterans who also have direct combat experience.

Recently I was working out and overheard some local community members using that saying. I knew they were not combat veterans and had no way of knowing how physically demanding a firefight in direct combat was. I was going to ask them about how they could possibly know this, but then stopped to think about it for a second. Surviving any challenging event is more about the mental strength and discipline to face and overcome the challenge than the physical part.  As I started thinking about it I really started thinking about the " mental" part of this, and that is the KEY!!!!!!!!!

My variation of this saying is "Stronger People are Harder to Kill both Physically and Mentally"

There is no one workout approach that will totally prepare someone physically and mentally for combat. Rather, the approach is to be innovative and creative in designing physical fitness training to replicate the physical and mental demands of a direct combat environment. On a personal note, my experiences in Iraq were very physically and mentally demanding.     (More on  unit experiences in Iraq ) My Afghanistan experience was very physically demanding at times but not the same as Iraq. I was in a different role on that deployment. (Read more on Afghanistan experience

Regardless if a person is a combat vet, swimmer, cyclist, Crossfitter, triathlete, marathoner, etc... mental strength and discipline is key to physical strength and key to completing the event. This is developed through hard and challenging workouts. So after thinking about this I realize that civilians do have a grasp of that and stronger people are harder to kill both physically AND mentally.

Mental discipline is required to succeed in physically demanding environments and is rarely developed alone. It is usually developed as a member of a team or community. Yes, in endurance sports the individual is competing but in the training leading up to the event it is highly unlikely they trained alone. they were part of a TEAM, part of a COMMUNITY.  And it is from community that strength and mental discipline in physical fitness and endurance sports is developed.    My graduate work ( Available here )  focused on communities of practice and learning from the sharing of stories. What I found ( and there is tons of research to support) was that in a community, relationships and friendships are developed through shared experiences.  Community members hold each other accountable and through interaction help improve each other’s performance.

It is through hard, challenging shared experiences that communities, teams, relationships and friendships make individuals harder to kill both physically and mentally. It all starts with getting OFF THE COUCH!!!!!


  1. Great blog! It motivated me to do an hour and a half of cardio!

  2. Athletics, whether individual or team, are tremendous focusing instruments for mental clarity. At mile 70 in a half-Ironman it takes guts and fortitude to grind out that last .3 mile. In combat it takes a hell of a lot to strap the kit on each day and go out there to mix it up with folks who wish to do you harm. Great blog, Jon. You continue to be my hero.

  3. Thank you Jon for motivating me to get off the couch months ago! So much better for it now. Keep doing what you do.

  4. People who work out in strip mall gyms are easy to kill.