Cart 0

"It IS a Running-man's Game"....but Also a Little More Than That

Stew smith

How Many Have Heard the Phrase,
"It's a Running-man's Game"
When It Comes to Selection Training?

Photo by D. McBurnett @mcteams3842 instagram

Over the years (since the 80s) I have heard this statement about SEAL Training. After experiencing it in the early 90s, I can say that the group that could run well did not have to worry about the class runs, nor the weekly 4 mile timed run on the beach. For those of us whose weekly game face was put on during the 4 mile timed run, we definitely agreed that BUD/S was a running man's game. Not having to sweat the 4 mile timed runs each week is a joy not often felt by many students. 

However, those of us who said that were above average in other events like swimming, doing obstacle courses, PTing, endless reps of pushups, and, in hindsight, and most importantly, not getting crushed under the logs and boats. Many of those who were good - really good - at running, definitely had their struggles under boats and logs and some with swimming, upper body strength or just handling the cold. The runner's who struggled under the boats or staying warm may disagree with the overused statement that it is a running-man's game.

Hindsight is 20/20

Looking back at not only my own journey but many others over the years, I tend to agree with the running man's game phrase as I have seen many stronger athletes (bigger mass) not meet the standards week after week. I am not saying you need to stop lifting as you definitely need a foundation of strength just for overall durability, but huge 1 rep max (1RM) lifts are not needed as much as running, swimming, and calisthenics are needed as you training for your final months of preparation. Neglect  a running weakness at your own peril as that weakness will be exposed before your first week is complete. Any weaknesses neglected will be exposed, but for some reason running preparation can be screwed up MANY ways:

1 - Run TOO Many Miles (too slowly) - People have failed to meet the 4 mile timed runs standards even if they ran 50+ miles a week prior to BUD/S. They ran too slowly.  Running 10 mile runs at 9-10 minute mile pace will only get you good at running slowly. Pick up the pace and learn how to run 6-7 min miles for timed runs of any distance. Don't fail your 4 mile timed run unable to run an 8 min mile in first phase.  Strive for 7 minute miles for some gravy time is recommended pace AND it not have to be a gut check to do it. 

2 - Not Enough Miles - Running nothing but sprints is not the answer either.  You need to put in the time and actually build some volume quite some time prior to arriving at BUDS just for overall durability as the first month of BUDS will test your ability to handle high mileage weeks from running, shuffling to chow, and running with logs, boats, and rucks. See spec ops running plan that build from 18 miles a week to 30-35 miles per week at pace. 

3 - Running Gut Checks Unprepared - Whether it is a marathon or ultra marathon done a whim, expect pain, injuries, and possible delays to your training timeline if you try too much running too soon without any progression.  The gut check of several hours of running may yield 50-100 miles, but mental toughness is going to be built one day at a time over several months - not a one time event. In fact, most people who do these get 50-100 miles in a weekend miss the next 2-3 months of running at least 100 miles a month of training. One runner will get 300+ miles in 3 months and the ultra-runner who is injured gets 100 miles in the same time. Missing out on training time in your last few months of prep is asking for future challenges and possible disqualification from service if injuries are severe enough. 

4 - Strength Athlete Turns into Good Runner But Still Too Much Lifting - This one may sound surprising, but even the bigger guys who could run well prior to BUDS (PST, 5km races, triathlon, o course races) and still lifted huge numbers (2-2.5x bodyweight plus type numbers) had a hard time with maintaining pace with 4 mile runs, 2 mile swims with fins, and other cardio events. Spending your last few months lifting heavy (real heavy) is not the best option in my opinion as the need for higher reps, lighter weight work capacity, and aerobic ability are more important to the prior strength athlete. My advice for this type of athlete is do calisthenics and triathlon training to cap off your cardio with 2/3 of your cardio being non-impact (bike / swim), but building up a solid 25-35 miles per week of running fast (that is not a gut check to do 7 min mile pace). Some people need to lift, but if you came from a lifting background, you will be surprised at how little you lose even with minimal lifts, more calisthenics, rucking, sandbags, logs, and other methods to do resistance training. 

5 - Goal Pace Running - Where most people initially screw up running is not learning a set pace and breathing properly. Big inhales (2-3 steps IN) and big exhales (2-3 steps) will help you keep your heart rate low.  Avoid too much caffeine prior to this type of running as the last thing  you need is an artificially elevated heart rate. YOu should know a 6 minute mile pace for 1.5 mile runs (90 second 400m / 3 min 800m) and be able to slow it down a little BUT maintain it for longer 4-6 mile runs at a 7 minute mile pace. Master these two paces and you will be in that running sweet spot. 

Lord knows, transitioning from strength / power athlete (football / powerlifting)  to a hybrid endurance athlete was not fun as I had to learn how to run and swim and handle high rep calisthenics. It took a few years to be honest and I still hate running (35 yrs later) but still do it 20-30 miles per week in my run cycles. If you can bring your game face to every running event, you can push through it but it takes significant effort and work during the preparation process to have that ability - you cannot just will it to happen without that work foundation. 

Depending on YOUR personal weakness compared to this assessment tool, you may find your own clever phrase as to what kind of "game" it is. The sooner you realize BUDS training is not a game at all - the better off you will be.  

There is More To than You May Know

(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks) 

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced Fitness Guides 

The Beginner / Intermediate Guide to Fitness
Reclaim Your Life  Erin O'Neill Story (beginner / intermediate)

Veterans Fitness  Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach 
Circuit Training 101  Beginner / Intermediate Guide to the Gym


The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Obstacle Course Workout  Prep for Races or Mil, LE, FF
TRX / Military Style Workouts  Adding TRX to Military Prep Workouts


Tactical Fitness Over 40 Series

Tactical Fitness (40+) Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram)
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Stew Smith Fitness 

 Find more about our programs on our social media:

Instagram             TikTok              Youtube

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness store if you're looking to start a workout program to get you TO and THROUGH any tactical fitness training program OR create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published