The Marine Corps' first-ever tactical training champions say it took grit and determination to beat some of the service's top athletes during a three-day competition in the California desert. Now they have some advice for Marines looking to compete next year.
Staff Sgt. Lauren Schoener and Cpl. Joshua Boozer edged out 30 of the service’s top fitness buffs last month during the three-day High Intensity Tactical Training Athlete Championship event at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. The event tested functional fitness including strength, endurance and agility, and will now be held annually.
Marines looking to compete in and win next year's event must be willing to challenge themselves physically every day, Schoener said.
“You need to dig deep to get to the level you want to be on,” said Schoener, who serves in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s provost marshal’s office. “Set a goal for yourself and then surround yourself with like-minded people — a gym partner who will push you to be better. There is no shortage of competition in the Marine Corps. Harness that to make yourself better.”
The first step, though, is to “get deeply involved in your local installation’s HITT program,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Jackson, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for Marine Corps Community Services at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
Getting involved in HITT is exactly how Boozer, an ammunition technician with 1st Tank Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California, got into peak fitness to clinch the victory. This summer he began meeting with two civilian HITT coaches at Twentynine Palms.
Boozer said he job keeps him busy, so outside of unit physical training, he isn’t able to work out as often as he would like. A couple months before the HITT championship, he said he started meeting with coaches as early as 5:30 a.m., and then again at lunch.
On top of that, the corporal said he plays basketball or hits the gym with friends. Adding that element of competition is a key to his success, he said.
Schoener, a CrossFit instructor and off-base trainer, takes a more methodical approach. She does a CrossFit workout every morning for cardiovascular endurance and muscle strengthening. Every other evening, she does a weight lifting workout.
“Combining two different fitness programs has worked for me because they are on opposite ends of the spectrum," she said. "I feel it is important not to neglect one because you don’t like it.”
Her favorite CrossFit workout is "Helen," which requires three sets that each consist of a 437-yard sprint, 21 kettlebell swings and 12 pullups.
Being a top tactical athlete also means making smart diet choices, Boozer and Schoener said.
Boozer said he eats a pretty average diet from the chow hall, but uses common sense to avoid the obviously bad choices like pizza. He also makes breakfast his biggest meal, eating a protein-heavy dish like eggs with lots of fruit, he said.
Schoener takes a more hands-on approach. She's not quite a diet fanatic, but said she tries to prepare her meals ahead of time so she knows exactly what she's eating. She does meal preparation every Sunday to ensure she has meat and vegetables readily available throughout the week.
As a busy Marine, she can't always do all the prep she'd like, but still tries to make smart choices in the moment. Her favorite meal, she said, is ground turkey tacos with sweet potatoes and vegetables on the side.
“I do enjoy my ice cream,” she said. "But that is the exception. If you are not eating the main and healthy things your body needs, it is going to feel the effects.”
View original article here.