The infamous Mud Run, designed to improve strength, stamina and build teamwork skills of potential Royal Marine Commandos (Picture: Crown Copyright 2013).
The infamous Mud Run, designed to improve strength, stamina and build teamwork skills of potential Royal Marine Commandos (Picture: Crown Copyright 2013).
fighting fit

Tips and advice to make life bearable on exercise

Life hacks from those who have served to make life in the field a little brighter.

The infamous Mud Run, designed to improve strength, stamina and build teamwork skills of potential Royal Marine Commandos (Picture: Crown Copyright 2013).
The infamous Mud Run, designed to improve strength, stamina and build teamwork skills of potential Royal Marine Commandos (Picture: Crown Copyright 2013).

Members of the Armed Forces community have been sharing their tips and advice on how to help make life on exercise more bearable, or in military lingo - go from threaders to hoofing.

Picture the scene: you are freezing cold, wet, covered in mud, exhausted and hungry after a day on exercise.

A soldier on exercise might find themselves sleeping on a roll mat, under a poncho, in a sleeping bag in a bivvy bag or other outdoor shelter as they brave all weathers.

And they might know they will be repeating the process tomorrow and for several days or weeks after that.

Tough conditions like these might be perfect to prepare service personnel for what they might face on operations. But still, ugh. 

Below are some suggestions from our experienced military community for when you are chin-strapped, freezing cold, hungry and need something to boost your spirits, including responses from those who answered our call for their suggestions.

Exercise Clockwork Arctic Training Joint Helicopter Command during their survival night in Bardufoss (Picture: Crown Copyright).
Joint Helicopter Command during their survival night in Bardufoss, where temperatures have been as low as -27°C (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Even MP Johnny Mercer, a former British Army commando and now MP for Plymouth Moor View, added his own, perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek tip, for those facing life outdoors on exercise in miserable weather.

For those not in the know, biff chit is military slang for a sick note:

Many of the tips focus on keeping as dry and warm as possible.

Rob Scott, posting on Twitter, suggested joining the Royal Navy for the "nice warm bunk, hot shower, good food."

But don't Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel head to Arctic Norway regularly to train in the art of cold weather warfare? That muddy field in Germany is sounding almost holiday like in comparison.

Someone should perhaps take a look at what's in Popeye's spinach, don't you think? Pop some of that in a ration pack and you'll be tabbing for hours without a care in the world.

Another Rob also had some useful suggestions for extra rations and clothing options:

Nothing to see here 🤐

Great advice - you've got to keep yourself warm. Talking of warm, who else does this? If it's cold outside, make sure you take off your uniform and put it inside your sleeping bag before falling asleep. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll be able to put on a toasty warm uniform.

A comment from one respondent who did not wish to be named said: "Always have a pair of ladies' tights! (They ain’t just for marines).

"Pack your Bergman [sic] with the sleeping bag out of its sack, with kit stowed at the top in the doss bag, makes a great pillow and you can pull doss bag half out the Bergen [sic] and kick it back down on a bugout."

Jim Robson sent an email with his tips, saying: "I used to sleep in my Land Rover and it was better than a tent, but the REME Eccy mechs had a workshop wagon that had a microwave cooker, a toaster, heater, kettle and a comfortable bunk to Kip in.

"Such a hard life for some."

Meanwhile, everyone loves the person who brings snacks. As Berni says, chocolate buttons are "morale in a bag".

It's been said before, teamwork makes the dream work and there is no I in team.

There is ME though 😬

Yes but there's all that flying and stuff and some of us like to stay on the ground, even if it is difficult to sleep on.

Nathanial Shaw on Facebook suggests bringing some essentials with you, saying: "Inflatable travel pillow, a good softie or jumper and flip flops to air out after patrols 👌"

Hope Charlie's biff chit below was laminated like Johnny Mercer recommended.

What we want to know is, does this advice come from experience? Were they the one putting the breeze blocks in or the unwitting victim?

What a sight that would be. Thank goodness no civvies would be wandering around.

And finally, last but not least, Mark Edwards on Facebook has some sage advice.

"Laugh at the other lad p***ed off more than you 😂"

Laugh, and the world laughs with you?

Let us know your tips at[email protected] and any other advice about life on exercise.