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    Over the past couple of years, I have posted a lot of material on training and nutrition and answered a lot of specific questions, which has been lost to public view as the forum has been upgraded. I will use this thread to re-post previous items related to common topics and FAQs. I will also try to consolidate other information sources and links to other materials on the Web I think are relevant to SEAL or SWCC candidates. Anyone participating on this forum should begin by thoroughly reading the NSW Physical Training Guide (PTG). While I provide information as Director of Fitness for the Naval Special Warfare Center, I welcome feedback and other points of view. This thread will remain locked, but feel free to post comments or questions in other threads.
    Last edited by Mike Caviston; 09-10-2015, 07:14 AM.
    Mike Caviston
    Director of Fitness, NSWCEN

  • #2

    Running is the most critical performance for success in the selection pipeline. Successful candidates exhibit greater running ability than unsuccessful candidates, and the difference is greater than for any other fitness variable that has been measured (including swimming, calisthenics such as push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups, and measures of strength including bench press and dead lift. Ironically, the "Strength Training: Star Here" thread is viewed twice as often as the "Running: Start Here" thread). I strongly encourage serious candidates to review the training advice for running provided on this forum and to implement it as completely as possible.

    Some general comments addressing frequently-asked questions related to running:

    *Interval training is an extremely valuable training format, but your program shouldn't consist solely of high-intensity intervals. In addition to 1-2 weekly Interval sessions, add liberal amounts of continuous, prolonged, moderately-paced ("LSD") sessions.

    *Barefoot running may be a useful part of training, to increase strength of tissues in the foot and encourage efficient running technique. It is not appropriate for everybody (e.g., those with flat feet), so use caution. If you choose to use barefoot running, it should be added to your routine in small amounts, gradually, paying close attention to signs of excessive stress or developing injury. I recommend appropriate running shoes for the majority of training mileage.

    *There are no simple or blanket recommendations regarding running technique. The issue of heel strike has received much discussion on the Internet and in fitness magazines. Techniques/programs such as POSE, Chi, and Evolution running have been popular. These programs, while providing some useful recommendations, mandate technical modifications that may ultimately do more harm than good. If you run comfortably, with no history of injury, and are making progress towards your PST goals, don't feel compelled to tamper with your running style - regardless of what style you are currently using. If you are not a comfortable runner or have experienced many injuries while running in the past - consider making some technical modifications but do so cautiously, gradually, and paying attention not to make an existing problem worse or trade one problem for another. For example, historically the BUD/S medical staff has noted increased Achilles tendon injuries among students who have claimed to train using the POSE method.

    *Candidates often express an interest in running with boots. Opinions have varied among members of the NSW community regarding the pros and cons of this practice, and with no hard data it is impossible to give definitive advice. Simply wearing boots periodically, to break them in and toughen the feet, is generally regarded as beneficial. The practice of training (performing conditioning runs) while wearing boots is more controversial. I recommend no more than an occasional short run while wearing boots, just to get an idea of what it feels like and how it affects your running mechanics and speed. In my opinion the potential risks outweigh the possible benefits of frequent or prolonged running in boots. The potential risks include greater injury and reduced benefits of training (the goal of training is to run faster while boots make you run slower).

    *Candidates frequently express interest in running while carrying weight. This is another case where the potential risk of injury outweighs any potential training benefits. However, an occasional ruck march with a manageable amount of weight for a reasonable distance should be beneficial. The distinction is to walk or hike, not run (one foot stays in contact with the ground, even if you walk briskly). Avoid the impact to shoulders, back, and knees created by running with a weighted pack.

    *In the selection pipeline there is frequent running in soft sand. This is physically demanding and even good runners with no prior experience in sand tend to struggle, so early exposure in training is desirable. However, don't overdo it. Too much exposure may create stress that contributes to injury, and running in sand is necessarily slow which limits the development of speed. A good compromise is to include a couple of miles of soft sand running into longer training runs on roads, trails, bike paths, etc. A good strategy is to include various terrains on different training runs (soft sand, hard pack dirt, pavement, grass; also hills as well as flat courses).

    *Use cross training to complement and enhance your run training. In addition to swimming, other rhythmic activities that use large muscles (such as cycling, rowing, elliptical machines, stair climbers, etc.) will develop your aerobic fitness. Use these activities to add training volume while keeping your running mileage at safe levels; to maintain fitness while recovering from an injury; or just for variety. Use a treadmill if it is not possible to run outdoors, or to simulate running uphill.

    *If you live where it gets cold and snowy, you can still implement a successful running program during the winter months if you take care to dress appropriately and are careful of slippery or snow-covered surfaces. Know the local conditions and know your limitations.

    A couple of useful links to material related to endurance training:

    (Provides descriptions of physiological factors that determine endurance, including VO2 max, lactate threshold, and economy.)

    (Provides context regarding training intensity and volume, and high performance for endurance activities.)
    Last edited by Mike Caviston; 09-10-2015, 07:52 AM.
    Mike Caviston
    Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


    • #3

      Several months ago, someone on the old forum asked a few questions after posting the following link to an online article about barefoot running:

      I wrote the following in response:

      "Running barefoot and running on the forefoot (as with POSE running) has become all the rage among fitness enthusiasts. But as with nutrition and overall workout programs, people are often quick to jump on the bandwagon and buy into the marketing hype, anecdotes and testimonials without looking for valid clinical evidence supplied by unbiased research. I taught running biomechanics to university students for years, and since working in NSW have been in contact with numerous researchers as well as the doctors and therapists who treat running-related injuries of BUD/S students and active duty SEALs. My perspective applies specifically to candidates for SpecWar schools such s BUD/S. I believe that small doses of barefoot running and attention to foot strike while running, if not necessarily making you the fastest runner, may reduce injuries and make you more comfortable and efficient as a runner. (SEALs don't have to win marathons but they have to be able to cover long distances faster than most recreational runners, and be durable over a lengthy deployment.) But you have to explore these issues cautiously and carefully because there are clearly risks associated with going overboard.

      "I believe small doses of barefoot running can be useful to strengthen the tissues of the foot and modify running technique to a more efficient style. Begin with 100-200m on grass or firm sand, staying relaxed and not worrying about speed. Slowly and progressively increase barefoot distance, paying close attention to any signs of strain or injury and backing off when necessary. You may eventually get to the point where you can do short conditioning runs or post-workout cool-downs in bare feet, but don't make that the focus of your training. Apply the mechanics you practice when barefoot to running with shoes. I personally strive for a midfoot landing style. That means that when I land in firm sand, I look for a footprint that depresses equally from front to back, not striking with the heel but not landing exclusively on the forefoot. I've read Romanov's book on POSE running and I think it has some helpful information, though it is not clear to me exactly how much pressure Romanov expects us to put on the forefoot. But many people interpret POSE running to mean the heel never touches the ground, and that seems to be a recipe for injury. The authorities I have consulted feel that while strict POSE running may cut down on some injuries (e.g., knee) it will increase injuries to other tissues such as the Achilles (yes, even after doing all the pre-conditioning exercises and following progressive mileage increases). Overall, I prefer the descriptions of foot strike by Dryer in the book Chi Running. But I have to emphasize, as strongly as possible, that you must be careful and proceed slowly when attempting to modify your running technique. I think overall there is good evidence that fewer injuries are associated with midfoot vs. heel striking. But what isn't clear is whether a lifelong heel striker can successfully change to midfoot striking. I think it is possible, but unfortunately there is no clinical evidence to support that position. Some experts feel you will cause more harm than good by messing with an athlete's running style. There isn't enough data to come to a consensus one way or the other, so please use caution and don't jump blindly onto the barefoot/forefoot bandwagon.

      "'Natural' running style is not easily defined. To say that man was designed to run barefoot is to ignore the fact that man wasn't really designed to run at all, at least not on two legs. Evolution did the best with what it had, but a mechanical engineer would design things differently. So an argument can be made that the right shoes can complement the foot to create a unit more suited to running than the foot alone. (Maybe the Tarahumara are an exception, but the rest of us didn't come from that genetic stock or grow up in that environment.) I'm always amused when the example of Abibe Bikila comes up (google Bikila if you don't know who he is, because his story is fascinating and inspirational.) The imagery is dramatic of Bikila tossing away his shoes and going on to win a gold medal in the marathon at the 1960 Olympics in Rome while barefoot, setting a world record. What never seems to get mentioned is that Bikila became the first repeat Olympic champion in the marathon, setting another worl record in Tokyo in 1964 - this time wearing shoes. For Bikila, the problem in Rome wasn't that he was wearing shoes, it was that he had the wrong shoes. That's an important lesson. It is true that high price doesn't guarantee quality. (Studies indicate that higher price is associated with more injuries, because people mistakenly assume more expensive shoes are more protective and are less careful about how they run.) Many shoes are over-engineered with more bells and whistles than are needed. But I suggest that choosing the right shoe will enhance training and reduce injury. A minimalist shoe may be a good option for some, but once again, do your homework and don't blindly follow testimonials or endorsements. Review the recommendations found on, especially if you have issues such as flat feet or high arches, and choose your shoes accordingly. Train hard, but train smart."

      NOTE: The above was written in 2009, when barefoot running proponents were increasing daily and pressuring others to give up shoes; everyone was wearing Vibrams; and the book Born To Run would become extremely popular. Currently (late 2015) the popularity has faded somewhat, but there are still plenty of people looking for an edge willing to give up their shoes. My advice is still the same - there may be some benefit to limited mileage without shoes, but be very cautious and careful. Research is still far from providing definitive answers on the effects of barefoot running on injury or performance. Here is a position statement from the American Podiatric Medical Association:

      "Barefoot running is a possible alternative or training adjunct to running with shoes. While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the Internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not adequately shed light on the immediate and long-term effects of this practice.

      "Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength and balance, while promoting a more natural running style. However, risks of barefoot running include a lack of protection, which may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds, and increased stress on the lower extremities. Research is ongoing in regards to the risks and benefits of barefoot running"
      Last edited by Mike Caviston; 09-16-2015, 07:58 AM.
      Mike Caviston
      Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


      • #4

        Previously asked questions related to substitute activities:

        Q: What if I get injured and need to stop running for a while. Can anything replace running.
        A: Occasionally a minor injury will pop up and you will need to miss a few running workouts. Aches and pains are going to occur and sometimes we just have to gut it out. But if a true injury has occurred or is about to occur, it would be better to be safe rather than sorry and not run until you have healed sufficiently to resume running without causing further harm. Or, maybe you are spending some time where it is not safe or practical to run. In the meantime, choosing an alternate aerobic/cardio activity to maintain your general fitness will be necessary until you can resume your running program. Anything that uses a large muscle mass, and can be performed continuously, would be appropriate. Swimming satisfies that requirement, and if you are unable to run one solution is to spend a little extra time in the water. Just be sure not to increase your swim mileage too dramatically and cause injury from swimming. As for other appropriate activities, cycling and rowing are good choices; stair climbers, elliptical machines, Versaclimbers, skating and cross-country skiing could all be used, depending of course on what is available to you and what your injury allows you to do. Just try to replicate the structure of your usual running workout, that is, the approximate time and intensity of your scheduled LSD, CHI or INT workout.

        One other important point: substituting another activity for running will help you maintain fitness, especially for the short term, but it is not ideal for improving running performance. So when you get back to running, don't try to pick up where you would be if you hadn't been injured. My general rule of thumb is, for every week of the PTG schedule that you miss, go back two weeks and resume from there. It doesn't matter how quickly you get in shape before BUD/S, only that you are in good shape once you get here.

        Q: How should I train for running in the winter when it is cold and snowy.
        A: I would expect many people can still train outdoors in winter, taking care to dress properly and making sure your footing is safe (be careful of ice or uneven surfaces hidden by snow). LSD runs shouldn't be too bad but some people might find it hard to get good CHI or INT intensity in cold temperatures. Cold air is dry and may aggravate your throat (harder to breath) or sinuses (bloody nose). If it is necessary to train indoors, try to select an activity that allows you to come closest to mimicking your scheduled workout. A treadmill would probably be a good option, but other cardio activities could work well, including cycling, elliptical, stair climber, Versaclimber, or C2 rowing machine. Do whichever activity allows you to work at your desired intensity/duration. Do the best you can with what you have, and don't sweat things that are out of your control (like the weather). Good luck.
        Last edited by Mike Caviston; 10-06-2015, 08:55 AM.
        Mike Caviston
        Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


        • #5

          Cross Training Considerations:

          *BUD/S or BCT candidates need to be running and swimming 3-4 times a week (minimum) on a regular basis.
          *When injured and unable to run or swim, substitute an alternate activity that doesn't aggravate the injury. Choose an activity that utilizes large muscle groups and can be performed in a rhythmic, continuous manner. Examples include cycling, elliptical or stair climb machine, and rowing machine.
          *These activities can also be used to supplement (not replace) your regular run/swim training. Use exercises like cycling or rowing as part of your warm-up or cool-down, or as separate workouts. Lust be sure to avoid overtraining and add these activities slowly and gradually to your existing routine.
          *Some pipeline-specific activities you might add to your regular run/swim schedule: swim and run (or run and swim) in the same workout back to back (may take a little logistical planning). Hike (not run) with a pack, especially on trails or sand. In-line skating (or ice skating or cross-country skiing) are good because they really work the hip abductors (gluteus medius) which provide support and stability when running in soft sand.
          *Sports with a running component, such as basketball, soccer or tennis, might also supplement regular training. Because of their stop and start nature, they might not ne the best choice purely for cardiovascular development, but they offer other benefits related to fitness, motor skill, and team building.
          *In general, lots of activity is good!
          Last edited by Mike Caviston; 10-06-2015, 09:35 AM.
          Mike Caviston
          Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


          • #6
            Re: RUNNING: START HERE

            Warming Up Is Important

            As I was preparing for an interval run, I thought it might be time to revisit and re-emphasize the importance of warming up before any workout, but especially those workouts that involve high intensity. The Physical Training Guide includes a section on warming up and cooling down; I encourage everyone to review the PTG regularly. Here are a few additional thoughts on warm-ups:

            *A proper warm-up reduces the risk of injury and allows you to perform more quality work, leading to better training adaptations.
            *A good warm-up by itself encompasses all the elements of a good workout (a mix of steady-state effort and high-intensity bursts). You know you are doing it right if an outside observer mistakes your warm-up for the actual workout.
            *Warm-ups by themselves provide a good training stimulus. On days when you are feeling a little overtrained and want to throttle back to recover a little more, a good strategy is to go through your warm-up routine two or three times and call it a day.
            *Don't ever compromise your warm-up. On days when you are pressed for time, shorten your workout from the back end, not the front. For example, if you had planned to run 8x400m, you should perform your regular thorough warm-up, take adequate (active) recovery after each interval, and stop after 4, 5, or 6 intervals if you run out of time. Maintain quality; get in the full workout next time.

            There are different strategies and formats you could use to warm up. You may want to include another activity like cycling as part of the warm-up, perform some calisthenics, or just run. Just make sure to take long enough to get warm and sweaty, and include several high-intensity bursts. You may get concerned you will be too tired to execute the workout, but that's right where you need to be. A general format I've used with students includes a few minutes of dynamic stretching (walking lunges, straight leg kicks, butt kicks, high knees, carioca, etc.) followed by a few accelerations or striders (50-75yds). Maybe a little jogging, and the option for some static stretching if desired (e.g., maybe you have a tight hamstring or calf that needs a little special attention). The whole process takes about twenty minutes from starting the warm-up to starting the first interval.
            Last edited by Mike Caviston; 10-07-2015, 07:20 AM.
            Mike Caviston
            Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


            • #7
              Re: RUNNING: START HERE

              Many basic questions about running and training as described in the Physical Training Guide have been answered in a series of posts originally published in the Training Blog. The Blog is going to be removed from, so I am removing links to the articles and reproducing them below. If you haven't read them, please do. If you haven't read them in a while, it may help to re-read them.
              Last edited by Mike Caviston; 10-09-2015, 07:50 AM.
              Mike Caviston
              Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


              • #8
                Re: RUNNING: START HERE

                Running At BUD/S
                (Originally posted September 21, 2009)

                Preparation for the SEAL PST and BUD/S must include a sound running program. Performance on times runs of varying distances (1.5 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles) correlates well with probability of completing Hell Week in a fairly linear fashion ( faster means higher probability of completion). Students in BUD/S must complete 4-mile runs in progressively faster times throughout First, Second, and Third Phases. Students in Third Phase must complete a 14-mile run. Students must run dozens of miles per week moving to and from different locations at the BUD/S compound just to do other training evolutions like swimming or carrying boats or even to get chow at the galley. The running program detailed in the NSW Physical Training Guide is designed to develop the endurance and speed to excel on the PST and the necessary abilities to complete BUD/S. The NSW Prep conditioning program which candidates complete following boot camp at Great Lakes prior to shipping to Coronado provides the opportunity to further develop running fitness.

                Before a BUD/S candidate can ship to Coronado from Great lakes, he must demonstrate running proficiency by passing rigorous exit tests. Students who begin BUD/S have demonstrated they are solid runners. Yet some students struggle, at least initially, with the running evolutions at BUD/S. How can this happen? Most likely they are affected by the demands of performing in a new environment under novel circumstances. For example, after months of training in running shoes, BUD/S students run in boots at all times. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, and the apparent logic behind preparing early, the various medical and conditioning experts at the Naval Special Warfare Center recommend that candidates limit training in boots prior to beginning BUD/S. Wear appropriate running shoes (you can find guidelines at for the majority of training, and restrict running in boots to short, occasional sessions. Students wear boots while at Great Lakes except for running and PT, so they get a chance to break them in and condition their feet, and will begin to wear them during running and PT during NSW Orientation. The transition will go smooth for students who arrive with a solid conditioning base and a natural, efficient running style.

                A major adjustment to running at BUD/S is the soft sand that forms the terrain of many conditioning runs and training evolutions. Many students arrive having put in plenty of miles on roads or tracks but never having run on a beach or other sandy surface. BUD/S candidates who have access to beaches or other sandy terrain may take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate the soft surfaces into their running program. Be aware that running on sand is more stressful than many people would expect. We tend to equate soft with cushion and low impact, but the flip side to the coin is soft sand offers little support and too much give during propulsion. In short, running in sand is quite stressful and (as with all aspects of training), candidates should add sand running to their overall mileage gradually and progressively, beginning with a modest tolerable amount such as half a mile or less. The percentage of total miles on soft sand should initially be limited to no more than 10-15%. Eventually, as conditioning improves, sand mileage can be increased to a larger percentage of total mileage, but as a general rule of thumb, limited to no more than 50% of total miles, with one third of total miles probably a good proportion. It is important to keep a balance between getting familiar with soft sand and running on firm surfaces to allow appropriate speed development.

                More so than running on solid surfaces, running on sand requires stabilizing work from the lateral muscles of the hip such as the gluteus medius, and the peroneus muscles of the lower leg. When these muscles are weak or become fatigued, performing on unstable surfaces causes misalignment of the lower extremity that may result in pain and injury. BUD/S candidates should have a proactive strategy for increasing the strength and endurance of these muscles before entering the official NSW training pipeline. There are a wide variety of exercises and activities that can be incorporated into a general conditioning program. Examples include:

                *Standing hip abduction using a cable machine, elastic bands or rubber tubing.
                *While lying on one side, perform hip abduction against manual resistance from a partner, or using ankle weights.
                *Do the calisthenics exercise known as the "dirty dog" or "fire hydrant": begin in a stable position on all fours (hands and knees), and externally rotate one hip out to the side, keeping the hip and knee bent to 90 degrees, until the thigh is parallel to the ground. Perform the desired number of repetitions and switch to the other hip.
                *Perform side lunges using body weight or while holding dumbbells.
                *Use a slide board, or do lateral skater's hops back and forth to points a couple feet to either side of your starting position.
                *Do short sprints that require zigzag or cutting movements, or do carioca maneuvers.
                *Use equipment that requires balance and stability, such as wobble boards or BOSU trainers.
                *Do in-line skating, ice skating, or cross-country skiing.

                As with all aspects of fitness, start at a manageable level and be progressive over time. Vary routines to emphasize both strength and endurance. Be aware of the effects of adding new exercises or routines to your overall program (including running and swimming). Work hard, but also be creative and have fun.

                Postscript - SWCC candidates run on the same beaches and perform many of the same evolutions as BUD/S students. I Don't want to minimize the importance of preparing for SWCC, so future Boat Guys need to follow these recommendations as well.
                Last edited by Mike Caviston; 10-30-2015, 07:55 AM.
                Mike Caviston
                Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


                • #9
                  Re: RUNNING: START HERE

                  Is Long (Slow Distance) Wrong?
                  (Originally posted November 9, 2009)

                  Endurance is one of the physical attributes required to succeed at BUD/S. The NSW Physical Training Guide features workouts to develop running and swimming endurance as a means of maximizing performance on the PST and preparing candidates for the rigors of the various training evolutions performed at BUD/S. The program features workouts using short interval (INT) and long interval (CHI) formats as well as sessions of prolonged, continuous activity (LSD). The interval formats are essential to the program and a critical training tool to maximize performance. I am a huge advocate of interval training. But my firm recommendation to candidates following the 26-Week program in the NSW PTG is to keep the number of interval sessions limited to one INT and one CHI session per activity (running and swimming), and gradually increase the length and number of LSD sessions as fitness develops. Many candidates attempting to follow the PTG have heard from one source or another that LSD training is either not useful because it is not demanding enough, or actually detrimental to performance because it diminishes the effectiveness of strength and speed training. I want to address those issues here.

                  The use of the term "LSD" may be confusing or misleading for some. While it does stand for Long Slow Distance, it only means "slow" relative to the paces you use for INT and CHI workouts. The pace has to be slow enough to allow you to complete the required distance. But "relatively easy and relaxed" doesn't mean "no effort" and doesn't mean that you won't sweat. A certain amount of intensity is required before adaptations will occur. Rather than being "slow" or "easy", LSD training can actually be quite challenging, and I prefer to think of LSD as Long Steady or Sustained Distance.

                  A simple and accurate way to determine the intensity for LSD is to use the Talk Test. Pay attention to your breathing, and choose a pace that causes you to breath somewhat hard but not too hard. You should b able to talk in short/choppy sentences, not gasping uncontrollably but not making longwinded speeches either. (Some people prefer to monitor their heart rate during training, which requires laboratory stress testing for complete accuracy, but I believe monitoring your breathing is simpler and just as effective for gauging the right pace to enhance endurance without overextending yourself). As your fitness, increases, you are able to work at a greater percentage of your max for extended periods without gasping for air, so the Talk Test is self-adjusting relative to your ability.

                  Endurance training may have some slight negative impact on strength and speed. As the muscles receive multiple signals from various training stimuli (LSD workouts, lifting heavy weights, sprints) some of the signals will conflict with each other. An Olympic weightlifter or hurdler trying to maximize muscle mass or contraction velocity would want to significantly limit LSD training. But elite athletes operate in an arena where specialization is required, and the difference between winning and losing is just a tiny fraction of a percent of actual performance. For BUD/S students and potential SEAL Operators, it is essential to be well-rounded and capable across the entire physiological spectrum. This means being able to move effectively in short bursts and lift heavy weights, but also able to cover long distances over rough terrain and still have a steady enough pulse to shoot straight when you reach the target. It also means having the ability to recover quickly after a max effort to be able to go again with little down time. Training for such diverse situations requires a little give-and-take, and optimal adaptations won't occur across the board. But realistically, adding a couple tenths of a second to your 40-yard dash while knocking five minutes off your 10K run is a good trade any day.

                  One common argument against LSD training is that high-intensity interval training is sufficient to substantially increase aerobic capacity (VO2max). This is true and one of the reasons I include INT training in a general fitness program, but a large aerobic capacity is not enough to guarantee ample endurance. The Three Factors of Endurance are aerobic capacity (VO2max), lactate threshold, and economy (the rate of oxygen consumption required to hold a given pace; related to efficiency). Here is a link to a review in the Journal of Physiology for anyone who wants a little more technical information:

                  Economy is affected by body type (body mass, height, limb length) as well as technique. You can't alter your genetics, but both INT and LSD training can lead to better technique and improved economy (and therefor greater endurance). A large aerobic capacity requires a big strong heart that can pump many liters of oxygen-carrying blood per minute, and the intensity of INT training will stimulate the pumping chambers of the heart to become larger and more powerful, resulting in increased stroke volume and cardiac output. A high lactate threshold allows you to work at a greater percentage of your max for prolonged periods, and to recover more rapidly between shorter, high-intensity bursts. I like to include both INT and LSD formats in training because they complement each other. The ability to recover more quickly/completely between intervals as a result of LSD training allows you to work harder when doing 1/4-mile repeats, for example. The prolonged, continuous nature of LSD training stimulates increased muscle capillary and mitochondria density, resulting in an increased ability to optimize blood flow, remove excess heat and metabolic waste products, and utilize fatty acids for fuel, all leading to increased endurance and more rapid recovery.

                  The useful adaptations stimulated by proper LSD training are not adequately addressed solely by INT training. Limiting your fitness program to short, high-intensity workouts without corresponding LSD training is like building an automobile with a high-performance, large horsepower engine but a tine 5-gallon gad tank. You may go fast but you won't go far.
                  Last edited by Mike Caviston; 11-02-2015, 08:32 AM.
                  Mike Caviston
                  Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


                  • #10
                    Re: RUNNING: START HERE

                    More on LSD: Application to the PTG
                    (Originally posted December 7, 2009)

                    In my previous post I confronted the perception that high mileage may be counterproductive to performance and encouraged candidates to incorporate LSD training into preparation for BUD/S. On the other hand, others have asked if there is enough mileage in the PTG to adequately prepare a candidate for BUD/S. Some candidates have looked at the numbers and noted that the NSW Physical Training Guide 26-week program seems to build to a weekly total of approximately 20 miles, which falls short of the 30-40 miles per week that pops up in various sources as a recommendation for preparing for BUD/S. I've addressed this apparent contradiction a few times already, but I want to make a definitive statement here.

                    The PTG was designed to accommodate untrained but healthy candidates, and a basic premise is to begin training with a moderate workload and gradually and progressively increase the training volume and intensity over several weeks. This is necessary to avoid the common beginner training mistake of attempting too much mileage too soon, often leading to burnout and injury. So the mileage prescribed in the early weeks of the 26-week program is pretty light by the standards of experienced runners or athletes that have been active in a number of sports that include running. But athletes with a solid conditioning base may enter the program at a higher mileage as long as it is consistent with their current fitness and training habits. Please note, this refers to candidates who have actually been following a progressive running program and have actually completed the necessary base mileage; candidates should never enter the program based on what they think, wish, hope, or assume they should be doing.

                    After several weeks of training with the three weekly running workouts prescribed by the PTG, you might decide to add a second weekly LSD session. I would recommend an unbalanced format that includes a longer session as well as a shorter session (about 50-75% of the distance of the longer session). The pace would be approximately the same for each session; don't do the shorter run at too fast a pace and turn it into a CHI workout. A general target would be to build up to a longer run of 8-10 miles with a shorter run of 5-6 miles. (Note: build up means a gradual increase over time. For example, during Week 13 you might do a long run of 5-6 miles and a short run of 2-3 miles, adding 1/4-1/2 mile to each session each week.) Some experienced, competitive runners may have the background and ability to eventually go even longer than 10 miles, maybe as far as 15 miles or more in a single session. If you have the desire and ability and necessary baseline preconditioning for that kind of mileage, I wouldn't discourage you. But I have no basis for claiming that being able to run comfortably for more than 10 miles will be a significant advantage, so I don't want anyone to feel they absolutely must exceed that distance before starting BUD/S.

                    Let's do a summary of the total weekly mileage you might achieve while doing one INT, one CHI, and two LSD workouts. Let's not forget to account for the warm-up and cool-down portions of the workouts. INT and CHI workouts require prolonged warm-ups to increase the effectiveness of training and decrease the risk of injury. Post-workout cool-downs (and active recovery between intervals) facilitate recovery. Even LSD workouts should begin with a brief warm-up. See the Physical Training Guide for details. Don't count these additional miles as part of the specific workouts, but they do affect your overall fitness and should be counted towards your weekly total mileage. I'll use some general numbers for illustration, but your actual numbers might vary to some extent.

                    INT session: warm-up 2.5 miles; 10 x 1/4 mile for 2.5 miles; active recovery between intervals 1.0 mile; cool-down 1.5 miles; total 7.5 miles.
                    CHI session: w/u 2.5 miles; 2 x 20 min for 6 miles; active recovery 0.5 mile; c/d 1.5 miles; total 11.5 miles.
                    1st LSD session: w/u 1.5 miles; LSD run 10 miles; total 11.5 miles.
                    2nd LSD session: w/u 1.5 miles; LSD run 6 miles: total 7.5 miles.
                    Grand total, all four sessions: 38 miles.

                    This comes pretty close to 40 miles per week, and the intensity of the INT and CHI running equated to greater volume than the same number of LSD miles, so we're looking at the equivalent of 40+ miles per week following the format prescribed by the Physical Training Guide. For candidates who build up to this running volume gradually and progressively, and have also maximized their swimming mileage, and are looking to develop even greater cardiovascular endurance, I encourage the introduction of non-weight-bearing activities such as cycling or rowing.

                    Be sure to incorporate general as well as specific injury-prevention strength training as well as flexibility exercises into your running routine. Review the recommendations in the PTG, see my posts in this and the Strength Training forums, and check out the Injury Prevention Guide and videos.
                    Last edited by Mike Caviston; 11-03-2015, 08:49 AM.
                    Mike Caviston
                    Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


                    • #11
                      Re: RUNNING: START HERE

                      Complete Instructions for PTG Interval Sessions
                      (Originally posted December 15, 2009)

                      In recent posts I've been clarifying some issues related to LSD workouts, so I thought this would be a good time to emphasize proper execution of interval (INT) workouts as well. The goal of the INT format in the NSW PTG is to build up to performing 10 x 1/4 mile at the fastest pace that can be sustained for the entire workout. That is very demanding both physically and mentally, but a very effective means of improving your performance on the 1.5-mile run portion of the PST. However, many candidates make fundamental mistakes when executing the INT format regarding the number of intervals they start with; how fast they try to go when just beginning training; how consistently they pace the workout; how well they recover between intervals; and how quickly they try to improve from week to week.

                      I can never repeat enough the importance of taking a long-term approach, and to encourage candidates to focus on achieving consistent gradual progress over several months, rather than trying to achieve instant gratification and stupendous results right now (because this rapid initial increase is almost certain to precede an early plateau followed by a decline in performance). Week 1 of the PTG's 26-week program begins with four 1/4-mile intervals, at a pace only slightly faster than your recorded pace for a 1.5-mile run. Even if you are an experienced runner and are able to begin following the PTG running more LSD miles than are listed for Week 1, I still encourage you to begin the INT workouts at Week 1 and perform only four repetitions. You should initially shoot for a pace during your 1/4-mile repeats that is about 4 seconds quicker than your 1/4-mile pace during your 1.5-mile run and no faster. For example, if your 1.5-mile time is 10:00, your pace for your first INT session should be about 1:36. A session of four repeats at this pace is probably not going to feel too tough, but that shouldn't concern you at this point. You just want to set yourself up for long-term improvement; eventually you'll achieve some real speed. I've talked with candidates who have become burned out or suffered from complaints such as lower leg pain, and this almost always correlates with doing too many intervals at too fast a pace too early in training. Some coaches would recommend not using intervals at all in the early weeks of training, but I feel it is safe and will lead to better long term performance as long as the prescribed guidelines are followed.

                      Since the INT sessions for the first few weeks will be relatively short, use the time to establish a thorough and effective warm-up routine. Add another interval to your to your workout every couple weeks according to the schedule in the PTG. Don't worry about increasing your speed until you build up to the full ten intervals. Work on consistency and pacing, trying to run each interval with no more than one or two seconds difference between your slowest and fastest. After you build up to ten intervals, doing them all consistently near your goal pace, you can start working on doing them a little faster every week. Still. don't be in too much of a hurry to go too fast too soon, and keep it steady. It defeats the purpose of the workout if you do the first interval in 65 seconds but shoot your wad, get slower and slower with each repeat and finish with a 2-minute interval. Between intervals, take enough time to adequately recover (about 2 to 2.5 times as long as it took to run the previous interval). Stay on your feet, keep moving, do a little jogging for active recovery, and stretch as needed.

                      Keep a record of all your sessions. After developing a fairly consistent pace with a steady rhythm, every week try to knock another second or two off your last couple intervals, finishing each workout strong. For example, if the previous week you finished ten intervals at an average pace of 1:30, continue to hold a 1:30 pace for the first several intervals of your next workout but bring it down to the 1:29-1:28 range for intervals 8-9, and then open it up for the last rep. The week after that, start the INT workout at roughly the same pace as your average from the last session and repeat the process all over again. If you are patient, you will eventually see a significant reduction in your times. Taking even one second off your average pace each week for fourteen weeks adds up to a pretty big improvement. If you train smart, you will develop enough experience to be able to push yourself hard from the start but still have enough stamina to finish the whole workout. As training becomes more physically and mentally demanding and it becomes harder to get faster from week to week, you will improve and refine your tactics for dealing with the discomfort and the urge to quit. This application of determination, strategy and goal-setting to achieve a long-term objective using short- and medium-term targets is consistent with the type of mental toughness required to get through BUD/S.

                      For variety, rather than always doing 10 x 1/4-mile, you can occasionally do alternate formats of the INT session using 200m or 600m intervals as well as the standard 400m (a quarter mile is equal to 400m). For example, do 6 x 600m to work on sustaining your 400m speed a little longer. Another possible format might be 3 x 600m, followed by 3 x 400m, followed by 3 x 200m Use any combination that adds up to no more than 4000m (approximately 2.5 miles). It probably won't be possible to hold your 1/4-mile speed for 600m repeats, so expect to go a little slower, and obviously you would need more time to recover after 600m compared to 400m. On the other hand, for 200m you would be able to go even faster than 1/4-mile speed and take a little less recovery. These occasional variations would let you work on slightly different parts of the speed continuum as well as shake things up mentally. Make sure to do your INT sessions on a firm even surface that is safe (you don't want to sprain an ankle or twist a knee) and fast (after all, it's a speed workout). Trail running or the beach is good for some LSD work but not optimal for INT. A good outdoor track is ideal, but a bike path or similar surface can work (watch out for traffic). Be careful if you use an indoor track, because if it isn't banked properly the tight turns will be hard on your legs. If you are temporarily unable to run for an INT workout (minor injury, bad weather, etc.) follow my general training recommendation (also applies to LSD and CHI) and use an alternate activity to mimic the intensity of the regular workout. Use a treadmill with a slight incline, a stationary bike, or a rowing machine to work as hard as you can for the same time periods it would take you to run your 1/4-mile repeats and spend the usual amount of time recovering.

                      Finally, remember to put INT sessions in the proper context of total training. As I've discussed previously ("Is Long Slow Distance Wrong?"), INT training is a fantastic tool to improve fitness, but it must be balanced with lower intensity sessions. The "all-out, all the time" approach is counterproductive. That's just a matter of human physiology, and we can't change it, no matter how tough or hardcore we think we are. For anyone interested in a (fairly technical) summary of research that has investigated the balance of training intensity and duration for high-performance endurance athletes, please see the following:


                      From the article's conclusions:
                      "Currently, there is great interest in high-intensity, short-duration interval training programs. However, careful evaluation of both available research and the training methods of successful endurance athletes suggests that we should be cautious not to over-prescribe high-intensity interval training or exhort the advantages of intensity over duration."
                      "HIT should be a part of the training program of all exercisers and endurance athletes. However, about two training sessions per week using this modality seems to be sufficient for achieving performance gains without inducing excessive stress."
                      "The effects of HIT on physiology and performance are fairly rapid, but rapid plateau effects are seen as well. To avoid premature stagnation and ensure long-term development, training volume should increase systematically as well."
                      Last edited by Mike Caviston; 11-04-2015, 01:23 PM.
                      Mike Caviston
                      Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


                      • #12
                        Re: RUNNING: START HERE

                        CHI Training Format Explained

                        Questions about the CHI workouts in the Physical Training Guide come up frequently. Everything I could possibly say about CHI workouts has been said in various posts on the Forum, but I will do a summary here. Remember that the basic weekly training format includes one Short Interval session, one CHI session, and 1-2 LSD sessions for both running and swimming. Review the previous posts in this thread for detailed instructions regarding Short Interval and LSD sessions.

                        A note about terminology: many endurance athletes or coaches would refer to the CHI workouts as "threshold training", and that's fine with me. For reasons I won't go into (I'm a physiology nerd), I don't like the term "Anaerobic Threshold" (often abbreviated "AT"). The workouts themselves are good; I just prefer not to use that name. In the Physical Training Guide, I introduced the term "Continuous High Intensity", or CHI for short. At the time, I wasn't aware of the book by Danny Dreyer called Chi Running, which refers to a style or technique of running, not a training intensity. Unfortunately, that has caused some confusion. Currently, when working with students and staff at the Center, I refer to these workouts as Long Intervals. When I get a chance to do an update of the PTG, that's one of the revisions I'll make.

                        In the PTG, the CHI workouts are prescribed by time (15 minutes, 2 x 12 minutes, 2 x 20 minutes, etc.) I did this because I figures it would be easier for most people to keep track of time when it might not be possible to accurately measure distance. But you can easily format the workouts by distance if you prefer. For running workouts, some alternate formats that fit into the appropriate range of time/intensity include 3 or 4 x 1 mile, 2 or 3 x 1.5 miles, and 1 or 2 x 2 miles. A single 5K would also be a good workout for this category (think of it as a single long interval), and you might participate in a local race to give yourself some focus, to get used to running in a group, and practice dealing with competition anxiety.

                        My prescriptions for Short Intervals and LSD are pretty specific, but the CHI/Long Interval format is more flexible and variable. The key is spending time at speeds a little slower than your PST 1.5-mile pace while covering more than 1.5 miles total distance. The optimal paces, interval lengths, and total distances covered are hard to prescribe exactly. It's a bit of a grey area, and a number of different formats will provide benefit. As with all things related to your physical preparation, it is a good idea to start conservatively and build the volume for this category of workout slowly. Looking at the CHI table in the 26-week schedule of the PTG, you might start with a single hard 15 minute run, or a single 2-mile run. As your fitness improves, you will increase the single time/distance until you eventually split one interval into two. If you become very fit and stick with the program beyond 26 weeks (it is important to remember the structure of the PTG can be followed indefinitely, not just for 26 weeks), you may eventually perform three or four intervals. I suggest the maximum total time for the CHI/Long Interval format be about 40 minutes (such as 2 x 20' or 3 x 13'), or the maximum distance be 4-4.5 miles. The number of intervals should be from one to four, with the shortest interval being approximately one mile (in the 6-7 minute ballpark), and the longest interval being 5K (around 20 minutes, give or take a couple minutes). Every interval in a single workout doesn't have to be the same length, so for variety you could try something like 2 miles/1.5 mile/1 mile or 17'/13'/9'. Be creative, try different things, have fun, and stay within the general parameters. Use at least one format (such as mile repeats) on a regular basis so you can compare apples to apples as you chart your progress.

                        Before performing a CHI/Long Interval workout, be sure to warm up thoroughly. I've discussed that at length before, so I'll only remind you that warm-up for interval training needs to be longer and harder than most people tend to do. The recovery between intervals, if running more than one interval, should be adequate to maintain intensity for the next interval. As always, include some active recovery (easy jogging); don't just collapse in a heap on the ground. The actual amount of time can vary depending on how far/fast you run, but in general if you are doing mile repeats, recover for the same amount of time it took you to run (1:1 recovery-work ratio). For longer intervals, that same recovery period will probably be adequate and the recovery-work ratio will be a little smaller, but if you need a little extra time, take it. Again, the critical point is to keep up the quality of work intervals, not obsess about the amount of recovery.

                        Finally, but most importantly, let's consider what is the right pace or intensity for CHI/Long Interval workouts. The PTG says, "These sessions typically involve moving for 15-20 minutes without stopping at a pace approximately 90-95% of the maximal pace you could hold for that duration. The workout should be very demanding but not totally exhausting. On a scale of 1-10, the workout should feel like 8-9." In answer to a question on the Forum, I once wrote "Not an all-out sprint, because you couldn't hold that pace for even one minute, let alone twenty. It's a hard session, but not absolutely all-out. If it's your first time, it's okay to be a little conservative and maybe only go at 80-85% of what you think your max would be for 15-20 minutes. After you try it, you'll have a better idea. Then next time go a little harder, until you find the pace you know is almost but not quite your max. I like to say that after a CHI-type workout, you know that if somebody had put a gun to your head you could've gone a little faster, but that's how much extra motivation you would have needed." In terms of actual pace in reference to your 1.5-mile run time, a ballpark figure would be to start out doing mile repeats about 30 seconds slower per mile than your 1.5-mile pace. For example, if your 1.5-mile time is 9:00, do mile repeats around 6:30 per mile. I emphasize that is just a ballpark figure. Follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid): go pretty hard, but not absolutely all-out.
                        Last edited by Mike Caviston; 11-05-2015, 07:51 AM.
                        Mike Caviston
                        Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


                        • #13
                          Hey! Running is Important!

                          This is the first new post to this thread in over three years. Since run performance is by far the single most important variable that predicts success in BUD/S (and also in BTC, though not quite as clearly) it may seem strange I would not leave more comments here. But the fact is, every time I see a question on the Forum or try to think of some aspect I haven't addressed, I check and see it has already been covered in detail in this thread. In short, there doesn't seem to be anything else to say about how to improve running performance before starting your NSW selection process. Still, perhaps it is time to emphasize again just how important running is and try to give some new perspective on optimizing training.

                          For reasons not really clear to me, users of this Forum show less interest in training to improve running than other topics, such as strength training. The "Strength Training: Start Here" thread has twice as many views as this one, and I wish the opposite were true. Strength is important and candidates for NSW should review the material in that thread thoroughly. But in terms of time and effort, more training resources should be spent developing endurance (which includes swimming as well as running, and perhaps cross training with other cardio activities as well). Running performance is the best predictor of success, but there is more to success than simply running a certain distance in a specific time (such as a competitive 1.5-mile time for the PST, or being able to meet the 4-mile run standards throughout the phases of BUD/S). It is important to be able to recover quickly and completely between several high-intensity evolutions during the week. Those who are faster on timed runs tend to have a more developed capacity to recover. Research from various military selection/training programs shows that performance on timed runs is the best predictor of injury (slower runners get injured more frequently during the program). In the athletic arena, for sports like soccer, there is a correlation between aerobic fitness and injury. It makes sense - when people get fatigued, technique tends to break down and they are more likely to make mistakes that result in injury. People with more endurance are more resistant to fatigue and less likely to make injury-prone technical mistakes, whether it is during a soccer match or a standardized military training program.

                          You should be able to summarize in a few words the essential components of an effective running program. They are: a weekly high-intensity interval workout; a weekly threshold workout; and 1-2 long steady workouts per week. It's that simple. Review the NSW Physical Training Guide and the posts in this thread for definitions and details.

                          I do have a few comments or clarifications regarding some aspects of the PTG (which was created over eight years ago), and some answers to questions that have been frequently asked. But nothing is significantly different from what has been said before. Terminology continues to be a bit of a tricky issue creating some confusion. I try to use terms that are clearly defined and fairly simple to understand, but still consistent with popular terms users are likely to encounter from other sources (books or magazines, the Internet, other athletes or coaches). That is hard to do. The PTG describes workouts using the INT (interval) format. I generally now refer to these as Short Intervals. This is to create a distinction from Long Intervals, which I have previously referred to as CHI workouts. Other terms that are similar in meaning, but still somewhat variable depending on who uses them, include anaerobic threshold, lactate threshold, tempo training, and cruise intervals. I still use the term LSD to describe longer, continuous, lower-intensity workouts.

                          In the PTG, the 26-week program builds up to 10 x 1/4 mile repeats for the Short Interval (INT) format. That is still appropriate if you are following the program specifically to peak for a PST. However, for more general, long-term (beyond 26 weeks), sustained training, I find that 8 x 1/4 mile (or the equivalent) is more practical and effective. It provides enough work for experienced athletes, and it fits nicely into an hour block (including warm-up and cool-down). But otherwise the same general parameters apply. Do several intervals from as short as 200m up to 800m (half a mile), with a recovery period from 2 to 2.5 times as long as the work interval. Do combinations that add up to 3200m (2 miles) total. Sample formats include 8 x 400m, 4 x 800m, or a pyramid of 200m/400m/600m/800m/600m/400m/200m. Still another format is to alternate 500m and 300m intervals. Mix things up to keep training interesting and challenge your speed endurance at different distances. From time to time, use a standard format like 8 x 400m to chart your overall progress.

                          People have asked about the use of very short sprints (<30 seconds) in a running program. I encourage these in training but include them as part of strength workouts (see more discussion in "Strength Training: Start Here"). My prescriptions include 40-60yd sprints with COD (change of direction) and activities like the 5-10-5 pro agility drill. These are good for increasing the strength of lateral hip and ankle muscles that influence the ability to maintain good running technique, and also develop the alactic anaerobic system, so they are a benefit to running performance in general.

                          I've already discussed long Interval (CHI) workouts in considerable detail, so review my previous posts. It is the hardest of the training categories to clearly define and with a pretty wide range of effective formats, so if nothing else think of them as somewhere in between Short Interval and LSD regarding intensity and volume, and don't overthink it too much. For LSD, one of the keys remains varying the terrain if possible. Run on flat, hills, pavement, dirt, grass, or sand (even snow). Nothing is best, they're all good, but too much of anything is bad. To build endurance even more, but keep from overtraining and causing stress-related injuries, supplement running with non-weight bearing alternate cardio activities (cross training). For NSW candidates of course swimming should be trained specifically as well as running, but plenty of other options are available that are fun and convenient.

                          For candidates in high school or college, participation in a sport that emphasizes running may be beneficial. During the season your day-to-day training might not look exactly like the PTG, but if you are in a good program with a qualified coach, you will almost certainly benefit. Another option is to participate in local road or trail races, particularly 5K or 10K, but even a half marathon if you train long enough and smart enough (jumping into any race without proper preparation is asking for injury). The race experience is a good way to develop personalized strategies for nutrition and hydration, tapering, warming up, pacing, and handling the emotional ups and downs of a competitive environment.

                          Finally, a word about performance standards. It is no secret (I emphasize it constantly) that better performance correlates with greater success during selection. So I am often asked how fast a candidate needs to be able to run to have a good chance of success. It turns out, there is no simple answer such as "Run x:xx for the PST" or "Run xx:xx on the 4-mile at NSW Prep". Since there is a competitive element to BUD/S ("It pays to be a winner"), to have a reasonable chance of succeeding you have to be faster than the majority of your classmates. In some classes, that speed might be greater or less than other classes. That will be out of your control so don't worry about it. The best strategy in preparation is to reach the best performance you are capable of without overtraining or causing injury. Yes, that is a tough course to follow and a hard line to balance.
                          Last edited by Mike Caviston; 12-31-2015, 09:00 AM.
                          Mike Caviston
                          Director of Fitness, NSWCEN