This week, I received an email from a reader who goes by HL. It made my day and provided an instant dose of motivation. The email was in reference to my “On the Grid” column from Issue 22 of our magazine — this column is usually exclusive to our print publication, but I’ve shared it at the end of this article if you’d like to read it in full.

HL’s email explained that this column changed his perspective on physical fitness, and provided the jump-start he needed to take it seriously as a form of emergency preparedness. As a writer and advocate of prepping, there’s no better feeling than to know that my words helped someone improve.

I’ve shared HL’s words below in the hopes that they’ll motivate you, too. Fitness and physical preparedness are critical, so get out there and start sweating!


I truly enjoyed your story from On the Grid, “Bug-Out is a Workout.”

You made some wonderful points, good for every part-time or full-time outdoor person. I must say your quote hit me hard: “The value of physical fitness to a survivalist should never be underestimated. When disaster strikes, you’d better be ready to handle it, both mentally and physically.” This made me think about our Florida disasters over the past years.

The following was a turning point statement for me. You said, “Ask yourself: if my life depended on it, how fast could I run a mile?”

So here I am, almost 70 years old and overweight as my body starts to fall apart. I have a drop foot left after back surgery. I once could run a mile in under 8 minutes. A mile? Wow. So I got up and did it for the first time in years. 5,286 feet. “What if” as my doctors had wanted me to walk and drop some weight. You also reflected on the Megan Hine article “Rethinking Survival” which I read.

You story was short, like a sports coach and part motivational speaker. Then I found myself, the only gray-haired walking that day. Not out to set a new land-speed record, I did two miles walking, each in 20-minutes.

Now having dropped a few pounds, I’m looking into a part self-made program for myself. I also read the Health story by Ryne Gioviano [from this issue, “Prepping for and Preventing Winter Weight Gain.”]

The point of this letter, Mr. McCarthy, is that your article got me started up again after years. It was kind of like putting in a new battery in an old vehicle. Your words “If your life depended on it, how fast could you run a mile?” As for myself, I can’t run yet, but I did a mile and now I know I can do better.

Thank you for your words and my healthier life to come each day. I’m looking forward to seeing where I am in a year, standing today at 6-foot, 288-pounds, 44-waist, 38.2 BMI. I am telling you this to keep myself motivated and on track for years to come.

Thank you for the jump!!

-H. L.


On the Grid: Bug-Out is a Workout
As seen in RECOIL OFFGRID Issue 22, Fall 2017

In this issue’s Survivalist Spotlight, Megan Hine makes a compelling case for the importance of the mind in survival situations. We agree with her assessment that mental fortitude is at the core of any life-and-death situation, but we’d also like to take a moment to counterbalance that point. The value of physical fitness to a survivalist should never be underestimated.

When disaster strikes, you’d better be ready to handle it, both mentally and physically. Ask yourself: if my life depended on it, how fast could I run a mile? It might seem like a minor issue now, but there may come a time when your answer is the only thing that matters. Then think about how that pace would be affected if the mile was uphill over rough terrain, or if you were cradling your injured child in your arms.

You’ll also need to consider pack weight. A bug-out bag can easily weigh 30, 40, or 50 pounds when it’s fully-loaded with food, water, ammunition, and other supplies. This weight will only amplify the strain on your muscles and joints. It’s relatively easy to load up a backpack with all the gear you’ll need in an emergency — it’s much harder to shoulder that pack and hit the trail. How often have you headed out with your full bug-out bag and gauged your ability to carry its weight?

On top of speed and strength, survival requires endurance. You might need to maintain an arduous pace to cover 20 miles in one day, and do the same the next. You may not even have the luxury of stopping to rest or eat a complete meal. Would you have the stamina to press on?

While it may be more fun to think about acquiring new gear or skills, these fitness-oriented hypotheticals must be considered early and often. If these questions make you uncomfortable, now is the time to do something about it — especially since calorie-dense holiday meals are right around the corner. You don’t want to regret those extra servings of mashed potatoes when SHTF, or find out where your physical limits are in a situation where your life is on the line.

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