Training for the Known and Unknown

In the early days of the CrossFit Games, it had a tag line, "Training for the known and the unknown".  With the popularity of events like Goruck Light, Challenge, Heavy and Selection; SealFit 20x, Academies and Kokoro; Spartan Races; Tough Mudders and other events like these, this is exactly what we are doing, however most people that I see are paying way too much attention to the unknown.

In my recent Selection class 015, we started with 278 people and only one finished.  Along the way, big groups of people were eliminated on each event that comprised the fitness test and I saw the same thing in my Kokoro 30 class. 

There is always the group of individuals who train their ass off and are meeting the minimum standard in training, but 1 or 2 "no reps" and they cant pass.  This is understandable, I guess, but these individuals must not be dissapointed or surprised when this happens.

I have learned about preparation the hard way and have learned to prepare properly for any endeavor now.  In my other life as a professional fisherman, I had to prepare for the best, the worst and for all kinds of other scenarios.  I dealt with alot of unknown factors as well as uncontrollable factors.  However, there were always "knowns" and I had better have all that shit dialed in perfectly, because nature and good old Murphy's Law were going to do their best to change things regularly.

The world of endurance challenges is much the same. 

If you take Kokoro for instance, SealFit publishes a list of minimum standards for the camp.  I copied this directly from their website:

"We want to prevent injuries as well as people holding their team back.  The work-load at Kokoro camp was described by an Iron Man athlete as “3 back to back Iron Man races, without rest.” It is intensely physical, probably beyond anything you can imagine now. Prepare well.

Prerequisites for a graduate certificate will be tested within the first few hours of the camp. They include:

  • 50 push ups (40 for women) in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes and 50 air squats in 2 minutes, with 2 minutes rest in between each.
  • 10 dead hang pull-ups for men, 6 for women
  • 1 mile run in boots and utility pants on the road in under 9:30
  • Body Armor (aka Murph) with 20# pack (15# for women): 1 hour and 10 minutes maximum

Endurance standards to guide your preparation (not tested for performance, but completion):

  • 10 mile run in less than 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • 20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours

Two event failures (PST/Murph) will result in a drop from the course and refusal to perform any event will be considered a non-verbal drop.  Note: we highly recommend that you ramp up your endurance and stamina training. A standard CrossFit or SOF Prep training regimen will not suffice. You should run a marathon or half Iron Man and spend considerable time rucking with load."

I don't know if you can get much more specific than that!  However, on test day, there were many who were just not prepared for these standards.  They were dropped from the course before it really even started. They went home without learning any of the lessons they came for. 

In Selection, you are given these minimum standard and you know you will be tested on them:

"Your ruck must weigh minimum 45 lbs. at all times, not including water or food. We will weigh your ruck at the start of Selection. If your ruck does not weigh 45 lbs., you will be performance dropped. You will have access to our scale prior to the commencement of Selection.

The PT Test

You will be tested on push-ups, sit-ups, a 5-mile run, and a 12-mile ruck run. You must meet the PT test standards in order to be given the opportunity to continue to train. If you fail to pass any portion of the PT Test, you will not receive a refund and your experience will come to an end.

PT Test Standards

  • 2 minutes: minimum 55 push-ups. *
  • 2 minutes: minimum 65 sit-ups. *
  • 5-Mile Run: maximum time allotted is 40 minutes. *
  • 12-Mile Ruck Run: maximum time allotted is 3 hours 30 minutes. **

* Push-ups, sit-ups, and the 5-mile run are done without a ruck.

** For the 12-mile ruck run, your ruck must weigh at least 45 lbs. at all times, not including water or food.

Once the PT test is complete, the rest of Selection begins. At that point, you will take all instructions from the Cadre. If you pass, you will earn the GORUCK Selection patch. It will never be for sale."

Despite this list, many failed every aspect of the test and were dropped before any of the good stuff began to happen. 

The point of this post is to encourage you to look at the whatever event you are training for and train specifically to dominate the known factors.  Remember that you are not training to pass the minimum standards but strive to exceed them by double.  If you cant pass the fitness test, all the rucking in the world is not going to help.  The only chance you have is to make sure that you can first pass the test.  Train specifically for it and plan to double the pushup, situp and pullup numbers.

Obviously, if you can do 100 pushups rather than 50 in the same amount of time, you are going to be in far better shape and far more likely to be able to handle the load that is about to be thrown at you.  The same can be said for situps, pullups, running and rucking.

First make sure you can pass that test, then train for the unknown.

If you are right on the line, maybe you are not ready for this class.  Look to the next class and give yourself more time to train.  These events are NO JOKE and have to be taken very seriously to pass and sometimes, to survive. 

Dominate the knowns and you will be prepared for alot of the unknowns.

Researching "known" factors in anything (endurance events, business, important meetings, phone calls, fishing tournaments, mountain climbing...) and making sure that you are completely prepared to dominate those in any condition or circumstance will lead you to success.