* Can You Run for Your Life? A prepper’s plan for getting physically fit

Three mornings a week I meet with a few friends to walk in the wooded area around our neighborhood. We typically walk about four miles, enjoying each other’s company and getting some exercise. Thankfully, it’s finally warming up and coats and wool caps are no longer required. But warmer weather also means the bees are back.

For most people it’s not an issue, but I’m highly allergic. One day when the bees were flying around, I mentioned that I really should start carrying my Epi-pens on our walks again.

This prompted a discussion about what we would do if I was stung right then. Someone would have to run to my house, get my medication, and run back to me. It got me thinking.

If one of my friends, or my husband or children, needed me to run to save their life, could I do it?

Could I run for my life? Can you run for your life?

In an emergency situation

I’m not the skinny teenager I used to be. At size 14, I’m not “too big” either. The real problem is that I’m not as fit as I once was. In my busy day-to-day life I can function perfectly well and accomplish what I need to without trouble. What happens, though, when there’s an emergency?

Most of us have felt an adrenaline rush before, and we’ve all heard the story about the mom who lifted a car off her child to save him from being crushed. My first response to the question about running to save my child was, “If I had to do it for real, I could. The adrenaline and the will to do it would push me.”

That might be true, but it’s also an excuse.

I shouldn’t be hoping that adrenaline gets me through. I should be improving myself to guarantee success.

Too many preppers, myself included, dismiss the fitness issue, assuming that we will simply do what we must in an emergency. What if the situation requires bugging out and walking for a dozen or more miles a day for several days?

I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the same thing I thought… “Oh, well, I might not be able to do it today, but if I was forced to, I could manage.”

The problem is, we might not be able to “manage.” At best, it would result in some very uncomfortable days and nights with hurting bodies. At worst, it could mean failing to achieve an objective that could quite literally be the difference between life and death. 

As a prepper, I’ve stored food, supplies, gadgets, and tools. I’ve learned new skills like building a fire, suturing a laceration, cooking with a solar oven, purifying water, and so much more. I’ve even made a specific effort to increase my resiliency by improving my mental and spiritual preparedness.

But what have I done to improve myself physically? Unless you count my brisk, but social, walk in the woods three times a week… nothing. That’s about to change.

Physical Preparedness

I decided to jot down a few things I felt I needed to accomplish in order to call myself “physically prepared.” This list is unique to me, but I hope you’ll find some inspiration to make your own.

Start Running

Problem: I can’t run to save my life.

I’ve completed several 5K races and multiple triathlons but I’ve never considered myself a “runner.” I’ve always finished miserable and in

pain and at the back of the pack after a lot of walking.

But really, whether I’m running to get help or running away from the bad guys, is the back of the pack in a survival situation where I want to be?

Solution: Three days a week, in addition to the walk with my girls, I will be training with the “Zombies, Run!” app on my phone. It combines the traditional “Couch to 5K”  training plan with an immersive zombie story where the runner plays a main character. It tells you when to walk and run, and when to speed up because the zombies are about to catch you! It tracks your time and distance, and connects to an online game if you choose. Plus you can use your own music.

Gain Flexibility

Problem: The best marksmen are flexible. I’m not

I’ve embarked on a quest to improve my rifle marksmanship by attending weekend long clinics that teach me to shoot from prone, standing, and sitting positions. I’m at the threshold of achieving an expert “Rifleman” score but one of the things holding me back is a lack of flexibility to get my body into a stable sitting position. I’m close, but instead of being relaxed and focused on the target, my body is fighting me.

Solution: Complete a general stretching and flexibility routine several times a week. Also, since there is a specific sitting position I want to be in to shoot my rifle… I need to sit in that exact position every day. My body will begin to learn what I want it to do, muscles will form a memory, and it will become easier and easier.

Increase Strength

Problem: Strong of mind, weak of body

During our family’s first camping trip this spring, I had to walk about a third of a mile carrying a 12-inch Lodge dutch oven that weighs about 20 pounds. As I struggled, I told myself it was hot, the path was uneven, and the thin handle was awkward. All of those things were true of course, but the reality was… it was heavy and I wasn’t strong enough.

I did it because I had to at the moment, but it was proof that just because I could, didn’t mean it was in any way easy. And my arms paid for it for a couple days. I imagined other times I might need strength in an emergency. Carrying a bug-out bag or my child long distances (or both – see image above).  Moving debris. Wielding an axe to chop firewood.

Solution: Add strength training to my workouts. My husband regularly uses the equipment in our garage. I have no excuse not to join him.

Weight Loss

Problem: A 30 pound cushion

Losing weight may be the very best thing we can do for ourselves physically. There are medical reasons, of course, (heart and joint health, improve or even reverse medical conditions like high blood pressure, some forms of diabetes, etc.), but here’s why we should lighten up from a preparedness perspective.

  • Some preppers announce that if times get really tough, they’ll just live off of their body fat. Hello, that’s called starvation! They’ll just end up feeling miserable and not be of much use to anybody. Don’t look at a TEOTWAWKI event as a viable weight loss option!
  • Most survival educators recommend that a bug-out bag be no more than about 30 pounds. An extra 30 pounds is just like carrying a heavy bug-out bag around all the time, but without being useful.
  • The next time you’re at the grocery store, head down the pet food aisle. Hoist a twenty pound bag of dog food onto your shoulder and really feel what twenty pounds feels like. Put it back on the shelf. See how much lighter you feel? Imagine taking twenty pounds (or more!) off your body and not having to carry it around anymore!
  • The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to need medication. Some of these medications become unnecessary once the weight comes off. Dependence on medication during a TEOTWAWKI situation is its own disaster waiting to happen.

Solution: Practice a great deal more moderation in my eating. Add more fresh foods and remove more processed foods. Increase water consumption. This, combined with the above fitness goals will help me drop the pounds.

How will you fare? Can you run for your life?

We’ve all met preppers who seem to have it all together… Food and water storage, finely tuned  skills, tactical plans for every scenario, and books and books worth of knowledge.

And they are in terrible physical condition.

Are you that prepper? I am. But now I have specific steps to remedy this deficiency in my preparedness plan.

If TEOTWAWKI happened tomorrow, how would you cope physically? Can you run for your life? What can you do today that will help you be physically ready for an emergency?

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