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  • Marine Corps OCS

    Related to this thread.

    I've been training for over 18 months now to pass my Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to apply for the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. The test consists of three events: Pull ups, sit ups, and a timed 3 mile run. The maximum score on you can achieve on the test is 300 points, 100 per event, and requires 20 pull ups, 100 sit ups, and an 18 minute run.

    Applicants to OCS have higher minimum requirements to pass these three events then enlisted. Specifically, an applicant to MC OCS needs no more then 24 minutes on the three mile run to be considered.

    I haven't passed a single PFT I have taken in the past 18 months. I've maxed out and exceeded the pull up and sit up requirements, but I can't seem to break 26 minutes on my 3 mile. I've been at the 26 minute mark for nearly 12 months! I am not a strong runner, I'm plagued with shin splints and, to a degree, I guess poor mental endurance. I've made a great deal of progress through my training (I used to do a sloppy 8 pull ups, 70 some sit ups, 30 minute run), I've physically gotten pretty damn scary looking (I went from 195lbs at 30% body fat to 190lbs 14% body fat) but I still can't seem to break my running time.

    I know that if I stick with this I will eventually get faster, but time is not on my side. I have one semester left of college before I graduate. I get married in May. I had planned on attending OCS this summer in June, but it looks like that might not be a possibility. My fiance and I decided (realistically, SHE decided) it is not in our best interests for me to enlist. If I'm going to serve my country I'm going to do it as an officer.

    So that leaves me with 2 realistic options: Wait and join the Corps later (which I think will tax to heavily on my new marriage) or apply to another branch. This is really taring me up as I've been gung-ho crazy for the Corps since I decided to do this. I still have some time, there is still a chance that I will make it. But I need to be realistic and start looking at other options. Does anyone have any advice?

  • #2
    Re: Marine Corps OCS

    Man, I had bad shin splints and plantar fascitus (stress fractures, too) the last couple of years I was in... Keep in mind that even if you make it through the entrance PFT, you're still going to have to endure all of your initial training. I'd assume 15 miles per week at a minimum while in OCS and TBS.

    If you think you can endure the pain while going through all that training, consider using a product like this:

    I was also given a horseshoe shaped heel cup by my physical therapist and it seemed to help my shin splints. It looked somewhat like the top heel pad on this page, only more symmetrical:

    Also, it's quite important to get a good pair of shoes. Most running shoes are designed to be worn by people that weigh less than 180 lbs. There are only a few models made by a few companies that are designed for big boys. When I got out, I bought a pair of Nike Air Durhams that were designed specifically for a fat kid like me. I don't run as much, but my shin splints are completely gone. When you buy your running shoes, go to a running store and ask them specifically about shoes for YOU. If they don't watch the way your feet move while you run and walk (they'll probably have a treadmill), then you're in the wrong store. Trust me, it's worth it to do this to find out if you over/under pronate or any of that other orthpedic stuff. You'll probably pay ten to twenty percent more than if you bought your shoes elsewhere, but it'll be WELL worth it. They can also offer you more advice on dealing with shin splints.

    Good luck. I know the pain you're going through. I remember a few months that it was so bad I couldn't sleep all night without getting up and taking more Aleve in the middle of the night. It sucks.

    At the same time, you need to seriously work on your run time. When you feel you're ready to start training again, I'd suggest wind sprints to build up your endurance and speed. We used to do runs called Indian Runs, where we'd line up single file and set out at a jog. The person at the end of the line would then sprint to the front of the line and when he got in line at the front, the next person at the end would sprint to the front. If you're training by yourself or with just a few people, that's not very effective, so I suggest setting out on a slow jog and then picking out small landmarks that are a few dozen yards ahead of you (a fire hydrant, that large rock, the street corner, etc...). Then you sprint to that landmark and go back to your jog until you see your next landmark. You should be sucking wind the whole time, so don't jog too slow or wait too long to pick your next landmark.
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    • #3
      Re: Marine Corps OCS

      Ok squeak, I ran track and cross country in both high school and college. What you need is the appropriate training schedule, which I can give you, but you MUST adhere to it if you want to get faster. CC in high school is a 3 mile race and the following training schedule was made for my team by a former olympic marathon runner and ironman triathlon champion. I ran this schedule for 3 years with my high school team when I was captain and we were state champs, with every member of our varsity team running 3 miles in under 17:00. Granted you only have 5 months, but that should be plenty of time to drop 3-4 minutes off your time if you're really committed to it.

      Preface: Working out in conjunction with this schedule is recommended, however, workouts should be extremely light and focus on no more than 3 targeted muscle groups per session (read: 30 mins max). The schedule consists of 4 week rotations with a time trial every two weeks.
      The schedule will be numbered as follows: W1D1 is week 1 day 1. Read appropriately.

      Important terminology:
      -fartlek: (yes, a funny word) is literally translated to "speedwork" and means sprint distances at full race speed with intervals of cooldown (read: 1/2 mile at full speed followed by 1/2 mile at slow speed/jog, repeat until distance achieved.).

      -race pace: your maximum sustained running pace. you need to have a pace for three miles that varies no more than 15-20 seconds per mile. ergo, if youre running 3 miles and your first mile clocks 6:00 and your second is 9:00, you need to readjust your pace for optimal performance.

      -fast pace: this is 75% of your race pace. what this means is that if you run a 6:00 mile pace at RP, you will run a 7:00 mile or slightly faster depending on how you feel.

      -half pace: this is not literal. half pace does not mean you run a 9:00 mile if
      your race pace is 6:00. it means you run a 7:30 mile. Roughly adjusted 1+1/4 your race pace.
      -resting pace: this is your 9:00 mile if you run a 6:00 mile. Easy enough. Its a light jog, no strain.

      W1D1- 3 Miles fast pace
      W1D2- 4 Miles half pace
      W1D3- 4 Miles half pace
      W1D4- 2.25 Miles fartlek (1/4 mile speed followed by 1/2 mile resting pace)
      W1D5- 3 Miles half pace
      W1D6- 7-8 Miles resting pace
      W1D7- REST DAY (do not work out or run on resting days)

      W2D1- 4 Miles half pace
      W2D2- 3 Miles fast pace
      W2D3- 4 Miles half pace
      W2D4- 3 Miles fast pace
      W2D5- REST DAY
      W2D6- 3 Miles RACE PACE FOR TIME
      W2D7- 4 Miles resting pace

      W3D1- 2 Miles fartlek (1/2 mile speed followed by 1/2 mile rest)
      W3D2- 5 Miles resting pace
      W3D3- 2 Miles fartlek (see W3D1)
      W3D4- 4 Miles half pace
      W3D5- 3 Miles fast pace
      W3D6- REST DAY
      W3D7- 7-8 Miles resting pace

      W4D1- 3 Miles fast pace
      W4D2- 6 Miles half to resting pace
      W4D3- 2 Miles fartlek (see W3D1)
      W4D4- 3 Miles half pace
      W4D5- REST DAY
      W4D6- 2 Miles resting pace
      W4D7- 3 Miles RACE PACE FOR TIME

      Some critical notes:
      -Make sure you stretch THOROUGHLY. You should stretch for no less than 10 minutes prior to any run. The muscle groups in your back, upper and lower legs should feel warm when you're done.

      -Do not stop and walk unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary as 60 seconds of walking during a run will negate 25% of the workout. If your muscles feel like theyre burning on a constant basis during the course of the month, you will know youre doing it right.

      -STAY HYDRATED. Plan a running route that passes water fountains or carry water with you. Should you be carrying water, carry two bottles and try to keep them evenly filled as your run goes on (i.e. dont drink all of one before the other). Also, drink in small sips. Big gulps will cause cramps and you'll regret it when you're barfing.

      -Run on grass and asphalt only. Avoid concrete like the plague. Concrete has NO elasticity and will cause shin splints. Grass is optimal, asphalt is ok. Never do any of this on a treadmill.

      -After each workout, walk constantly for a period of 10 minutes to give your muscles and heart rate a chance to level off. Dont sit down or lie down during this cooldown time. Post run, stretch again for 3-5 minutes. When you get home, allow at least 1 hour before working out with weights or doing other exercises and make sure to stretch first. Otherwise, just relax for at least an hour, drink lots of water.

      -If you feel any intense pain in your knees or shins after the workout, immediately take ibuprophen and ice them while elevated. This will reduce swelling of the tissues, alleviate some pain and stop the effects of possible splinting. Feeling pain during the workout is normal. If youre not in pain by the end of most of the runs, you're doing something wrong.

      -if you feel lightheadded after a run, do not sit down or lie down. stand with your hands clasped together and held above your head and breathe slowly. never bend over as it will cause blood to rush to your head and you could pass out. this is a classic mistake.

      -the most important thing i can tell you is to control your breathing while running. your breathing should match your pace to a count that you choose. my breathing pace, for example is in 3 steps, out 3 steps. and do it in huffs (so for me, think in-in-in-out-out-out). find a breathing pace that is comfortable for you, but no less than 2 in, 2 out. Your body cannot process enough oxygen in 1 step to keep you going at high speed, which is why most amateur runners tire out quickly (they breathe in and out on alternating steps and become oxygen deficient and cramp badly).

      -if you get cramps while running, feel free to massage them in stride. dont stop unless the cramp is absolutely debilitating.

      -if you do have to stop for any reason (i.e. water fountain or crossing a street) run in place at a pace equivalent to a fast jog, but still below your half pace, this will keep your heart rate up and your workout wont lose steam.

      PS-if you have any questions, you know where to find me and i'll be happy to help :)


      • #4
        Re: Marine Corps OCS

        Never do any of this on a treadmill.
        Can any of this be adopted to a treadmill? As it is winter and I live in Illinois, my only option is to run this on a treadmill. I have access to a HORRIBLE indoor 1/8 mile track, but I'd prefer to save my ankles.


        • #5
          Re: Marine Corps OCS

          Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
          We used to do runs called Indian Runs, where we'd line up single file and set out at a jog. The person at the end of the line would then sprint to the front of the line and when he got in line at the front, the next person at the end would sprint to the front.
          AGGGHH Flashbacks of Dive School. Indian Runs were usually done after they turned us into "Sugar Cookies" (Where we had to do a swim get out and roll around in the sand). Talk about chaffing.

          Well Squeak, I wish you luck on your endeavor. I think Ferris laid it out for you. Hopefully there is a way to adopt his plan for some indoors work but I imagine that your still gonna have to do some outdoor work if the weather allows.

          The only other thing I can think of and you had mentioned in your original post was about mental training. Sometimes, we can set mental barriers that are just as hard as physical barriers to overcome. Do a search on the WEB and visit some of the runners’ websites to get some ideas on how to help with the mental side of running. A brief Google found a few sites similar to this one... Mental Skills for Runners.


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          • #6
            Re: Marine Corps OCS

            In order to get the inflammation down with the S splints, do some cross training.
            It would be terriable diffucult to train and build up good cardio when your held back by pain.

            Like Cing said, there is the rest of the training also. You need to improve the rest of your body to be more functional during the PT, just focusing on those three test may cost you.

            Now to getting the running game up

            Recumbent bike:

            Will improve Cardio endurance and be zero impact on the legs. Do intervals (spin faster with more resistance and then slower with less resistance) to maintain leg strength and endurance while improving cardio.


            Same as the last, but the thigh muscles (quads) will be greatly improved in strength and power. Running does little for the quads, you will need strong quads during the PT stuff.

            The purpose to these modes of training is to build up and improve your ability of your lungs/heart to take in oxygen. Once your legs get better (with very little impact movements) you should have improved your cardio because your leg pains are not slowing you down.



            I know how to get the job done on chins. My personal best is 23 reps. Granted I was 150 and 6% bodyfat so that helped. At the time I could do 225lb bench press.

            Getting your body fat to single digit numbers is good.

            What goes out first during the chins? If it is your forearms, focus more time on them.

            For most people, including me, your body just stops doing what you want it to. You will need to improve your bodies ability to produce energy (ATP). Specifically in those muscles.

            The best way to do that is to do the same damn thing over and over again. Yeah, I know, strength conditioning is easy. lol.

            The following is assumed:
            1. plenty of sleep is happening (7-8 hours)
            2. Good nutrition. Food by god not man (no junk foods)
            3. You are getting good rest in-between workout sessions so you are not overtraining, meaning not overtraining causeing retardation in performance
            4. Your intesnity is high during the workout sessions.

            Improving reps on Chins:

            1. Only do chins, do not worry about machines or things, be specific.
            2. Do multible sets at lowered reps so that you do not run out of energy and limit your training.
            It may make more sence to warm up and then do as many chins as you can to train. This will overlaod the energy system but will not be as effactive.
            Instead do less reps and more sets. The body, if properly rested, will adapt and make sure it has enough energy to get the job done next time.
            This will mean you will go weeks without testing your max! patience.

            I remember going months without trying to max on chins and one day asking, "Today I am going to try a max on chins." I ended up doing like 18 shattering my old record form a few years ago. I was blown away, I not even been training for max. So every Sat I would go train and managed to add a rep a week and maxed at 23.
            Note: I had changed my work out sessions. For those months I was not trying to max out on chins.

            I will produce a a website that allowed me to reach the 23 mark.
            The Navy Seals recommend this for those wishing to make it on the Seal team.

            The site is down now, I'll post it later. It is all there.

            Good luck.
            (PO3) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Squad Member
            (CPO) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Squad Leader
            (LCDR) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Commander

            Squad Member pledge to their SL:
            Squad Leader pledge to their team:
            Commander pledge to their SL:


            • #7
              Re: Marine Corps OCS

              For speedwork I <3 fartleks. It takes a bit of self-control and motivation, but they're worth it. As the others have said above, pick a landmark ahead of you and sprint to it. Then resume a normal running pace, then pick another point to sprint to and so on.

              Nec aspera terrent.


              • #8
                Re: Marine Corps OCS

                Originally posted by squeak View Post
                Can any of this be adopted to a treadmill? As it is winter and I live in Illinois, my only option is to run this on a treadmill. I have access to a HORRIBLE indoor 1/8 mile track, but I'd prefer to save my ankles.
                if you can find a kinetic treadmill (one of the treadmills that runs at your pace instead of being motorized) then sure. otherwise, i recommend looking around for a decent indoor track. motorized treadmills will tear your muscles up because when you need to stop you have to just stop cold instead of slowing down like youre supposed to, plus they dont support proper arm movement most of the time.
                also, the fartleks cannot be adapted to a treadmill.


                • #9
                  Re: Marine Corps OCS

                  Guys, sorry if I wasn't clear on my original request regarding advice... I already have a solid routine that has gotten me very far and will eventually bring my run time down, I'm not going to go into it right now. All good advice none the less, but I've been researching and adapting my routine for over 18 months and it is working, I just wanted to correct the impression that I haven't been taking my training seriously.

                  What I really wanted advice about is whether or not I should apply to other branches OCS (As I've exceeded their physical requirements). I know we get a LOT of priors and current enlisted as regulars and members to TG. Does anyone have any experience with how their officers became so without going the ROTC route? Do I look like a coward for dropping the Corps for another Branch? If I wait untill I've reached the point where I need to be to actually go to MC OCS, I'm afraid that may put to much pressure on my family.


                  • #10
                    Re: Marine Corps OCS

                    A coward for dropping the Corps? To be frank, who gives a f---?

                    Seriously, I've been in the US Army for just about 6 years now and have been in the Infantry MOS the entire time. Know what I wish I had done 6 years ago? Joined the Air Force. :P

                    Trust me, all the branches of the military have their own special flavor of retardation and you'll likely go insane at some of the things they'll make you do (many a time I've been so infuriated at some of the field problems that my head would be throbbing from the elevated blood pressure). Ultimately, it's a personal choice. Making a decision about which branch to join based on someone else's opinion or approval is a faulty course of action to pursue. No matter many ways you slice it, its eight years of YOUR life that you're giving up (enlisted, at least... officer contracts work differently from what my leaders have told me).

                    If you think you can achieve the run goal and you are truly as hard-up to join the Marine Corps as you state, then pursue your goal with a full head of steam. If after giving the matter serious consideration you still have doubts, then you should probably look into another branch.

                    There's no shame being an officer in the U.S. Army, or the U.S Air Force, or the U.S. Navy. Wanting to be an officer is in itself a commendable goal. If it's hard-core stimuli you're after, the U.S. Army has plenty of distinguished units to join: 10th Mountain (of which I was a part), 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne... if you want to go even further, you can apply for Special Forces. If you want to take it a level further than Special Forces, you can try for 1st SFOD-Delta (Delta Force). In terms of "spec-ops" units in the US military, Delta is the loftiest goal you could strive for.

                    The training for Delta is absolutely insane, though. :P


                    • #11
                      Re: Marine Corps OCS

                      I can only give you conditioning info seeing how I am a civi puck.

                      I have no info on Officer C. School stuff.

                      We got to get those running times down. Your conditioning is impeded due to your S. splints. Stop the running and do light impact training to build your cardio edurance up (bike/swim). After the inflammation goes down, get some good orthotics and stuff like Cing said, and have at it, but not too much, still do interval training, but add running.

                      Here is the Navy Seal website I promised.


                      Look over it and get some good ideas.

                      My current Catagory I. week 6 work out Mon Wed and Fri is:

                      3X8 chins
                      3X10 Dips
                      6 Stability ball isometrics sets at 25 seconds each(do the superman deal when you balance your belly on the ball and you look like your sky diving)
                      6X25 pushups.

                      The catch is to do these each with about a 20-30 second break inbetween each exercise.
                      This is basic circuit training only with higher intensity.

                      This type of training actually will have your heart rate at moderate levels the whole time!! As aposed to power and strength were the heart reate goes up very little.
                      This will gas you like no other and really stress the cardio because your body is constanly trying to resupply the muscles with usable energy. Not giving yourself time to rest will force the body to adpat, and it does.

                      Your know you got a good work out when your sort of weak and sort of sick afterwards.
                      The body adpats to this making you ever so fit.

                      Remember, SEALs do this kind of stuff to be functional, so it has merit.

                      What ever branch you chose, I hope you do well on your PT scores.
                      And more importanly do well in their boot camp like training.

                      Have a good'n.
                      (PO3) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Squad Member
                      (CPO) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Squad Leader
                      (LCDR) Marcinko_R. (BF2 PR .509) Commander

                      Squad Member pledge to their SL:
                      Squad Leader pledge to their team:
                      Commander pledge to their SL:


                      • #12
                        Re: Marine Corps OCS

                        The four direct routes are:
                        Direct Commission (you need a college degree)
                        OCS for any service is going to be gruelling. the marine corps is by far the hardest, followed by the army, navy and air force in that order. If youre dead set on going marines, then i'd bide my time until you're prepared to do it and then go for it full guns. remember that the enlistment/commission age is higher now, so you have until youre 27 at the lowest end. Also, research the PFT and you'll notice that the scoring varies by age (i.e. higher age requires less effort) but not by much.


                        • #13
                          Re: Marine Corps OCS

                          Originally posted by squeak View Post
                          Do I look like a coward for dropping the Corps for another Branch?
                          Hell, no! It'll be open season for all Marines that know you to give you some good natured ribbing:icon19: , but you've got to do what's best for YOU. There are plenty of ways to serve your country and despite what I may say (or have said), the Marines are not "the best". Everyone's situation is different.

                          Gillespie brings up a good point, too. If my kid wants to join the military, I plan on pushing him in the direction of the USAF. He might not grow in the same ways as he would in the Marines, but he'll be treated a WHOLE LOT better! The Air Force gets all the best gear, housing, vehicles, and anything else that depends on a budget.

                          So, I guess it's up to you. If you want to be a Marine so bad, are you confident that you've done everything you possibly can to become one? If so, then you'll be able to live with serving your country some other way. But if you have doubts, well, I suppose that could bug you for a long, long time...
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                          • #14
                            Re: Marine Corps OCS

                            I say stick with it. As others have mentioned, it comes down to what you want to do not how others view you. If you want to be on the ground with the grunts then the Navy and USAF is not the way to go. If you want to fly then look at USMC because pilot, barring physical disqualification, is almost guaranteed. The road there may be tougher but in the end you are doing what you want and that is a big factor to enjoying your time in the military.

                            As for the running/shin splints, I would recommend cutting your distance down. I dont know how you started your run training, squeak, but if you went from running zero miles to running 3 miles your muscles pretty much went into shock. Try cutting your distance down to either 1 mile or 1.5 miles. Work on lowering your mile time and then build up incrementally to get your body used to running at a longer distance. I know you like the regimen you have right now but try to work in some other cardio workouts (biking/swimming/sports) on top of the running. After I had ACL surgery I rehabbed on a stationary bike while working my way up to full strength. Not only was I getting a cardio work out but I was working different muscles than I would have running. The same can be said for swimming and even just using an eliptical machine. Lastly, try to work in plyometrics into your lower body workouts. Again, I did these rehabbing my knee and my 1.5 mile time was the best I had since my first one, freshman year.

                            As Cing also mentioned it could be your shoes. Try to find a real running store (not footlocker or finishline). A quality running store should have knowledgable staff and the right equipment to help you find the right pair for you because everyone has a different run, different step and different feet. The store should have a treadmill to allow someone to check your posture as well as see how you plant your feet (how much you pronate). They should also be able to take a mold of your foot print to see how much arch support you require. Good stores will keep this information on file and whenever you come in they can bring it up and help pick something out for you.

                            If you cant find a store like this then here is a site that can guide you in dtermining your sneaker needs.

                            You can go straight to doing this yourself but personally I like having another person there to give an outsider's judgement. Running stores also tend to have running clubs. Me, I need that rabbit to chase, that next runner to catch, and the desire to beat someone else to really push myself.


                            • #15
                              Re: Marine Corps OCS

                              Here was my routine for the fall semester. Now that the semester is over, I have a lot more time I've devoted to training and have a better schedule next semester.
                              5k; 200 Situps; Pyramid Pullups; Swim
                              Upper Body Weights; Swim
                              5k; 200 Situps; Pyramid Pullups
                              Lower Body Weights; Swim
                              5k; 200 Situps; Pyramid Pullups
                              Bike; 200 Situps
                              5k: Done at a park a few blocks from my house.
                              Situps: Nothing special.
                              Pullups: Set of palms in and a set of palms out. Worked my way up to 6 and down from there.
                              Swim: 1000 yards total, vary free style, backstroke, kicking, pulling etc and done at night seperate from the rest of the workouts.
                              Bike: about 6 miles total.
                              Weights: Split into two days (one upper one lower), focused on building strength in joints and to get full motion out of certain muscles (high reps low weight).

                              Variations of treadmill, elliptical, bike for cardio (no pool access).
                              Pyramid routine + pushup routine (each time you complete a step on the pyramid, pump out 10 pushups. 30 seconds of rest between).
                              Inclined weighted situps 100 - 150, variation of techniques.
                              Weights: Split into two days per week like above, focusing on full motion of muscles.
                              Other Various exercises: Dips/Leg lifts/Squats/lunges/etc to create a varied workout different from the previous day.
                              1 day of rest. I was going 1 day on 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off, 1 day on... etc, but my routine is now varied enough that I don't overwork any single muscle group in two days.

                              All workouts consist of a 15 minute warm up and stretch routine, and about 10 minutes of cool down stretching.

                              When the weather permits, I'd like to start working on Ferris run training. Starting in January, I'll have access to an indoor track and a pool again.




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