Second Lieutenant Sam Westlake blogs from the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, about the second day of the arduous Pegasus Company training course.
I had heard terrible things about Speed Play. I’d gathered information here and there about it that gave me a chance to mentally prepare for the pain to come. Speed Play is a fast run – approximately 6 miles long – broken down into best effort legs with “pain stations” in between each. Squats, press-ups and burpees make up the pain stations and although they offer a chance to get some air in your lungs, they also deprive your legs of energy.
We got up at the normal 0600hrs after which I had my usual bowl of Alpen. I find it’s an ideal breakfast before PT because it’s full of oats, providing you with a slow release of energy throughout the morning. However, we reported to the P Company lines at 0730hrs and Speed Play did not kick off until 0830hrs after the Commanding Officer’s Opening Brief, leaving many of us pretty hungry. In future we will take food with us to the lines.
The first 2 miles were the fastest and the pack soon spread out. Officers were expected to motivate soldiers who fell back but were also expected to lead the pack in stages. Reaching a pain station early sounds like a strange reward but it is a chance to recover and re-set for the next stage. Maximum effort is expected from all throughout and the staff come down hard on those found “coasting”. We lost another 3 to the unforgiving cut-off times; but no matter how fit you are, Speed Play will hurt.
The afternoon was filled with map reading revision and a very good medical lesson (the first of 4 to come) from a P Company medic. He also gave us a number of useful tips for the course: snack discreetly on endurance sessions, wear inner socks on tabs, use ice for 15 minutes at a time on injuries and start taking ibuprofen.