April 26, 2018

Yesterday I dropped the podcast I did with Matt Lawson, fellow Kokoro Graduate.  You can find an article and all links to the episode here.  If you like it, could you please take a second and give it a rating and review on iTunes?  It would help greatly.

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After a LONG trip to the Florida Keys. to film our show and get a few podcasts, I am back and training with my friends at the RRL.  It is so nice to be surrounded by positive people pushing each other to be better in every area of their life.

This week we have had a variety of work

Tuesday, my first day back

10 KB Swings

10 Weighted Cossack Squats 

10 KB Clean and press

10 Weighted Cossack Squats

x 4

 

Wednesday

Run 600 @ 2:39

rest 2:00

x2

rest 5:00

Run 300 @ 1:15

Rest 2:00

x 2

Rest 5:00

Run 500 @ 2:09

Rest 2:00

x2

Rest 5 min

Run 200 @ :47

Rest 2 min

x2

 

Today

Hang Clean 5-5-3-3-1-1-1

Then, descend into the depths of Hell with this repeat

15 Hang Cleans @ 135

15 Burpees

x 3

4:49 for me today which is quite a bit slower than last time

Jonathan Hurtado Goruck Triple Heavy (HHH) Interview

I don't complain as much because I've become so grateful of the things that I do have, and I've learned that "it could always be worse." 

-Jonathan Hurtado

Many of you who follow this blog will remember that when I was training for Selection with my friends at the RRL, we met a friend, online, through this blog who trained virtually with us.  His name was Jonathan Hurtado and he was in Selection Class 015 with us.  Jonathan is a great guy.  We have stayed in touch since Selection 015 and Jonathan has gone on to complete some really amazing challenges.  We have sat down to talk a few times since.  Read those interviews here:

Goruck Selection and SealFit Kokoro Interview with Jonathan Hurtado

Kokoro 41 AAR from GRT, HCL and Goruck Selection participant Jonathan Hurtado

This time, we are going to discuss a recent event that Jonathan and a few others took on and completed.  This event is called a Triple Heavy or HHH and it is put on by Goruck.  A Heavy is 24 hours of work and many train for a long time to be able to complete one.  Jonathan decided to try to do 3 of them...back to back to back.  Something like this is going to be a crucible experience and it is only going to be completed by someone who is physically prepared and mentally for everything that is to come. 

I asked Jonathan about gear, preparation, training, his "why" and much more.  Thanks so much to Jonathan for doing this here.  Enjoy

 

Tom Rowland:  Hey Jonathan- Great to catch up with you.  I am so excited to hear about your HHH experience.  Because a lot of other people will be reading this, lets go over a few things to make sure everyone understands just what an HHH is.  Can you give us a little background on the different Goruck events and the difficulty of each?  Cliff Notes version is fine.  

JH: The GORUCK Challenge is a team endurance event based on Special Forces training where participants undergo a variety of boot-camp exercises and team-building challenges while wearing a backpack full of weight.  It tests your physical and mental abilities and is designed to make you work as a team, usually with people whom you never met before. There are three types of Challenges that vary in length and difficulty.  There's the GORUCK Light which lasts about six hours, the GORUCK Tough which lasts about twelve hours, and the GORUCK Heavy which lasts at least twenty-four hours.  There's also Selection, GORUCK's hardest event, that's forty-eight hours and is not a team event like the Challenges.  The pass rates for Lights and Challenges are above 90%.  The pass rate for Heavies is around 50%.  The pass rate for Selection is less than 5%.

Tom Rowland:  How many Goruck events have you done?

JH: Including the Triple Heavy (HHH), I've completed twenty-nine Challenges.

Tom Rowland: So a Heavy is 24 hours and at one time the hardest event in the lineup outside of Selection and you decided to do 3 of them back to back to back?  Why?

JH: After failing to complete GORUCK Selection 015 in 2014, I was going to attempt it again the following year.  I tore my calf during training in early 2015, which ended my hopes to attempt Selection that year.  However, an opportunity came to do a new event called the Triple Heavy later that year.  It sounded dangerous and unprecedented, but I ultimately signed up because I'd figure it would be good prep for Selection in 2016.  I was also curious to meet the other people who were crazy enough to attempt three consecutive Heavies.

Tom Rowland:  Has anyone ever done a HHH before? What is the history of the event?

JH: The Triple Heavy is a custom GORUCK event created by Doug Otte.  Previously, the GORUCK HTL (which is a GORUCK Heavy, a GORUCK Tough, and a GORUCK Light done consecutively) was the hardest team event GORUCK offered.  Doug was inspired by the HTL to create what he considered to be the ultimate team event, the HHH.  Seventeen started the first GORUCK HHH in 2015, and seven (including myself) made history by being the first team to complete back-to-back Heavies (GORUCK HH).  The third Heavy was canceled due to low participation numbers, as only four were willing to continue and five were needed.  I was the swing vote to determine whether the Triple Heavy would continue, but I decided not to proceed because of a thumb injury I suffered near the end of the second Heavy.

We all vowed to come back for HHH02 and finish the event.

Tom Rowland:   Did the reason for doing the second HHH change from doing the first?

JH: Yes, it did.  I did the first HHH event for Selection prep and a desire to meet the other HHH teammates.  For the second HHH, there was a feeling of unfinished business after how the first HHH ended.  But my primary reason for doing HHH02 was to inspire others by showing them that what is considered impossible may not actually be so.  Finishing three consecutive Heavies had never been done before, and I strongly felt that it was indeed possible and the HHH02 team would be the one to do it.

Tom Rowland:  Since the HHH is a team event, how did you decide who you would do the event with?

JH: The first HHH accepted anyone who signed up.  The second HHH had an application process, with input from the GORUCK HH finishers if needed.  Finishing an HTL was an important requirement, but exceptions were made if a person had similar experience (like finishing Kokoro).

Tom Rowland:  Who were your team mates?

JH: The team was a mix of people whom I have done previous GORUCK events (including the first Triple Heavy) and some I had never met before.  One was even a cadre from the first Triple Heavy, Chris "Soul Crusher" Sanchez!

Tom Rowland: So now we understand the motivation and the events, this is where the rubber meets the road…how did you train for the event?  How long did you train for it?

JH: After the first HHH ended in late September 2015, I took October off to recover.  I started my training for the second HHH in November and I already had a major event coming up.  The calf injury I mentioned previously also took me out from doing Kokoro (a 50-hour endurance crucible based on Navy SEALS training) in early 2015, so I rolled into the 41 class in February 2016.  Thus, from November through February, I trained to get ready for Kokoro 41.  I mostly followed Stew Smith's Complete Guide to Navy Seal Fitness during that period, although I wished I did more running.

After finishing Kokoro 41, I took March off to recover.  A good friend of mine, Troy Angrignon (also a Kororo finisher), helped devised a HHH training plan for the rest of the year.  I followed variations of Strong Swift Durable training programs, specifically Fortitude, Valor, GORUCK Selection, and SFOD-D Selection, but I didn't follow them too strictly.  For example, the SFOD plan had 80# ruck training days, which I felt were too excessive for HHH, so I scaled them to 60#.   I also did a bunch of GORUCK events throughout the year, including the GORUCK Triple Light.  However, I didn't do any HTLs this year, as I felt that finishing Kokoro in February was enough in terms of big events. I was worried that not doing at least one HTL before the HHH would be a mistake, but it ultimately worked out.

Tom Rowland:  What kind of communication did you have with your team during the training?  Did you ever get to train in person with your team?

JH: We used Facebook to communicate with each other for the big things like getting the correct items for the event and hotel accommodations.  For those whom I knew prior to HHH02, I either communicated via Facebook Messenger or on the phone.  I would see some of my HHH teammates at other GORUCK events, so we'd talk about the event then as well.

I mostly trained alone, although I did a few workout sessions with a good friend and HHH teammate, Roman Hunt, since we lived in the same area.

Tom Rowland:  How did this training differ from SealFit Kokoro?

JH: It was less running and more rucking.  Pull-ups weren't a big concern, although I still worked on my push-ups since the Heavy does have a PT test.  The goal was to get used to rucking a lot of miles with heavy weight.  One of the modifications I did that wasn't in any training plan was a heavy ruck session that I did once a week, where I did three rounds of one mile with a 45# (and later 60#) ruck and a 60# sandbag.  Ruck PT was also important, and one of my "favorite" sessions was to bear crawl with a 45# ruck around a basketball court for a few laps.

Tom Rowland:  Tell us about the event?  Where was it held?  Temperature, weather?

JH: HHH02 took place in San Diego, CA from September 29th, 2016 to Octobet 2nd.  It was sunny and hot during the day and not too cold at night.  We visited a variety of places, such as downtown San Diego, Coronado Island (including the North Island Naval Air Base), a Crossfit gym, Fiesta Island, the desert in Anza Borrega, and ended at the USS Midway.

Tom Rowland:  What did you choose to wear?  What about socks and footwear?

JH: I wore a cheap Champion athletic shirt, Triple Aught Design recon pants (which sadly ripped during the second or third Heavy), compression shorts, and a Columbia windbreaker when it got cold.  My footwear consisted of Injiji toe socks, Darn Tough Merino wool socks, and Brooks Beast '14 sneakers.  I was considering boots for this event, but I would develop issues with my right ankle whenever I trained in them.  I ultimately decided to go with what I was comfortable training in, so I used the same brand of sneakers I wore for the first Triple Heavy.

Tom Rowland:  Walk us through some of the highlights.

JH: 1st Heavy - Taking a ferry to Coronado Island and enjoying good old surf torture at the beach.  Later on, while walking in the surf, I got stung on my right toe by a stingray or some other animal.  My foot hurt like hell, and I remember Cadre Brett Vernon sarcastically asking me if I wanted to med drop.  I was temporarily a GORUCK causality where I had to be carried on a tarp for a bit, but thankfully my foot got better and I could move on my own again.

Later on, we were granted access to the North Island Naval Air Base in Coronado and got to see the SERE school.  I'm grateful that we had the privilege to visit it (and also grateful that no SERE interrogation techniques were used on us).

 Kirk Deligiannis in SealFit 45.  RIP Brother.  We will always remember you.

Kirk Deligiannis in SealFit 45.  RIP Brother.  We will always remember you.

2nd Heavy - The PT test for the second Heavy took place at Crossfit ATR, and we did the "Doc" Hero WOD (in honor of Charles Luke Milam).  Afterwards, we were surprised with a bonus memorial WOD for Kirk Deligiannis, who was an amazing member of the GORUCK community and sadly passed away after finishing Kokoro 45 a week before the Triple Heavy. Teammate Kim McGrath was instrumental in having the HHH team do a WOD in his honor, and we both were given an opportunity to talk about him before we started.  The class yelled, "For Kirk!" before we started his WOD.

We also were honored to have a veteran from Operation Gothic Serpernt, Steve Lycopolus, speak to our class. This was significant since the HHH was also Mogadishu Mile themed, and to have someone who experienced the event we were commemorating made it extra special.

We ended the second Heavy at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Unlike last year's HHH, my thumb was still intact at the end of the second Heavy, so I looked at Kim (who finished the HH with me last year) and told her I was ready for Round 3 while wiggling my thumb.

3rd Heavy - We began in the desert of Anza Borrega.  I was worried about how dry and hot it was, but the third Heavy didn't start until the sun was already going down (making the temperature thankfully cooler).  Nonetheless, that start was intense because we were expected to work strong and hard despite having done two consecutive Heavies.  We were nearly ruck running up a mountain and we lost three teammates in the first 90 minutes of the event.

Near the end of the event, we had to do peer evaluation of our other teammates.  It was really interesting to hear what your teammates had to say about your performance throughout the event and provided an excellent learning opportunity on how to improve as a team member and leader.

And obviously, the endex, which I'll talk about later.

Tom Rowland:  On an event like this, there are going to be some major highs and some major lows.  Can you describe the darkest moment and tell us what you and your team did to overcome and get back on track for success?

JH: The darkest moment for our team came during the second Heavy.  We were supposed to infiltrate the San Diego Challenge class that was happening at the same time, but we kept failing for a variety of reasons.  We were exhausted (this was probably around Hour 40 or so into the event) and weren't gelling as a team.  The repeated failures put a damper on our mood.  The end of this evolution provided a nasty gut punch with the loss of two team members, including Cadre "Soul Crusher" who had to be med dropped.  We were given an opportunity to nap for about 15 minutes or so.  The combination of a brief rest plus the sun coming up allowed us to recharge and essentially start with a clean slate for the next evolution.  We worked better as a team afterwards.

We had another rough patch around Hour 70 during the third Heavy.  Our team was down to eight and we were having troubles working together as the cadre put a lot of stress on us and our team leader.  It took a while for me to realize that the cadre were actively trying to make us turn on our team leader.  I wished I had realized this sooner, and I'll discuss this more in detail when I get around to writing my After Action Review for the event.  We eventually rallied around our team leader to get past this evolution, but I look back at this moment as a failure of leadership in my part and an unfortunate learning experience because I could have done better for my team.

Tom Rowland:   Now that it is complete, what do you see as the most challenging thing to completing a single Heavy…how was it different to complete 3 back to back to back?

JH: If you never completed a Heavy before, you wonder if you can survive putting in work for twenty-four hours straight.  Sometimes your food gets taken away and you have no idea when you'll have a chance to refuel.  The long grind and sleep deprivation create a daunting atmosphere, but it's one that can be conquered if you trained hard and have the right mental attitude.

For the HHH, food wasn't an issue since there was an expectation from the Cadre that we would never be denied food since doing endurance rucking for three straight days required a lot of calories.  After finishing one Heavy, the major issue is whether you think you have enough will power and strength to continue for another 24 hours.  To combat this feeling, I essentially treated the HHH as one long eventAlthough I still celebrated the victory of completing each Heavy, I considered those ends as breaks rather than the end of one event and the start of another.

Tom Rowland:  So you had a short time between each event…What did you do during that time?  How did you prepare for these “commercial breaks”

JH: The first break between the first and second Heavy was tough because I was unable to sleep.  I don't know if it was because of the food I ate, or my inability to be comfortable in the outside grass, but I couldn't take a nap and ended up laying with my eyes closed until it was time to go.  I presumed that the cadre would warn us before the second Heavy start, but that didn't happen and it was stressful to collect all my unprepared belongings before we had to move to the next location.

We all learned our lesson at the next break between the second and third Heavy.  We made sure that our packs were ready for the third Heavy before we took our naps. I was able to rest a bit, and sure enough, our prep paid off because we were told to immediately move once the third Heavy started without notice.

Tom Rowland:  How did you feel when it was over?

JH: The HHH endex was an amazing experience.  We finished near the kissing statue outside the USS Midway.  Members of the GORUCK community and teammates who had dropped from the event were there to cheer us on and congratulate us as we finished.  Seeing that support as we arrived lifted our spirits, especially since it signaled to us that we were finally about to end.  Getting the HHH patch was one of the best moments of my life.  First, the accomplishment of completing something that I was unable to do the year before provided a great feeling of vindication.  Second, being able to show people that nothing is as impossible as it seems was satisfying.  I truly hope that our HHH victory would inspire people to pursue their goals.

Tom Rowland:  Tell me about the recovery process

JH: I slept a normal eight hours after the event, which was surprising.  When I had to walk around the following day, I limped.  The day after that, I stayed in bed.  When I went back to the gym, I avoided using any weights and mostly kept to stretching the first two weeks after HHH.  Unfortunately, I have a lingering injury on my right leg that was exacerbated by the HHH, so I'm still not at 100%.  I've mostly been doing upper-body bodyweight work and swimming to stay off my leg, and I'm about to start physical therapy to rehab my right leg.

What did you eat?

JH: One of our HHH teammates, Kelli, who dropped during the second Heavy brought Jack in the Box burgers and fries to the endex.  She is a saint for doing this, and I will be forever grateful for her generosity.  The Chipotle run after the event was also fantastic, and I appreciate Pete Silver for driving the team there and then back to our hotel.  I joked with my friend and HHH teammate, Patricia, that Chipotle was the food of champions since we ate a burrito the day before our Kokoro and HHH events and we finished both events.

Is there a Quad Heavy in the future?

JH: No. The Triple Heavy was already on the edge of excessiveness, and anything that goes beyond that is too much in my opinion.  I wouldn't be completely surprised if someone comes up with something dumb like GORUCK HHHHHell Week in the future, but I won't take any part of it if it ever exists. You would have nothing to show for it except for some really stupid injuries.  

Tom Rowland:  So now you have done a number of Goruck events as well as completing SealFit Kokoro and HHH.  What lessons have you taken back to your everyday life?  

JH: Mental attitude plays a big role in how you will succeed or fail.  You have to be absolutely confident in what you are doing.  When I first attempted the HHH, my attitude was that I would finish two Heavies and see how far I could go for the third.  Lo and behold, I only made it as far as two Heavies in HHH01.  For HHH02, I changed my attitude and repeatedly visualized myself finishing the third Heavy with my teammates.  One of the main reasons why I completed the HHH was because I absolutely believed that I could finish it.  I used the same visualization techniques to see myself completing Kokoro, and that played a role in becoming a Kokoro graduate.

I don't complain as much because I've become so grateful of the things that I do have, and I've learned that "it could always be worse."  Completing those events also warped my perception of what is difficult.  Any challenge that stands in my way doesn't seem as scary as the stuff I've been through in Kokoro and HHH.

Tom Rowland:  I am a graduate of SealFit Kokoro 30 and I attempted Goruck Selection 015 in your class.  I saw great similarities between the two events, but I also saw them as almost the opposite of one another in so many ways.   Successfully completing Kokoro gave me great confidence and I brought tons of lessons home and became better for it.  Failing after around 20 hours in Selection 015 also taught me a ton of lessons.  In so many ways, I learned and gained more from the failure than I did from the success.  Can you give us some insight to how you would compare and contrast the HHH to SealFit Kokoro?

JH: Reliance on your team members is a big factor in both Kokoro and HHH.  I would not have completed either event if it wasn't for my teammates.

In terms of difficulty, the Triple Heavy was harder than Kokoro.  It seems obvious saying that because the HHH's 72 hours is greater than Kokoro's 50 hours, but I'll never forget how intense it was to be expected to perform again during the third Heavy when you already had done so much in the previous 48 hours.

Kokoro was more than just a test of your physical and mental limits--it was also designed to provide lessons that allowed you to find or reflect on the purpose of your life.  The Triple Heavy, on the other hand, had no specific goal other than to test its participants to work as a team and endure to the end.

Tom Rowland:  Now…the big question…what is next?  Is Selection in the cards for you?  If so or if not….why?

JH: That's a good question, but it's one that I won't answer at this moment.  The injury on my right leg hasn't fully healed, and it's put into question whether it's worth going through Selection again.  After the Triple Heavy, I feel that I don't have to prove myself to anyone ever again.  If I ever decide to do Selection again, it would have to be for a very good reason.

Thanks so much Jonathan.  Congratulations on being a great American and challenging yourself daily

 

Jonathan is currently working on writing his AAR for the second Triple Heavy, but you can read his AAR for the first Triple Heavy at the links below.

 

http://www.jonhurtado.com/goruck-triple-heavy-aar-part-1-of-4/

http://www.jonhurtado.com/goruck-triple-heavy-aar-part-2-of-4/

http://www.jonhurtado.com/goruck-triple-heavy-aar-part-3-of-4/

http://www.jonhurtado.com/goruck-triple-heavy-aar-part-3-of-4/

Interview: Byron makes big changes in a year

 Byron at 255 before the RRL

Byron at 255 before the RRL


TR: Hey Byron!  Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary at the RRL.  
I have loved getting to know you over the last year, but for those who might not know you...Introduce yourself…( Job, family, #kids, ages, background in sports…)   Can you describe where you were in your life, your physical condition (weight, energy level, blood work, cardio shape) how you felt one year ago?

BW:  This is my fifth year living in Chattanooga, and I moved down here from Virginia to teach physics at Baylor School.  I am, 29 and married to my wonderful wife (and great supporter of the last year of early RRL workouts), and we have an 8 month old son, John Henry David. We live on Baylor's campus, as I am also a dorm parent.

A year and a half ago, I decided to start working out, mainly cardio, and some body weight workouts.  However, I had hit a plateau, and was not making a lot of progress.  I weighed 255 lbs., had trouble sleeping, and my energy was crashing at the end of the class day.
 

TR: That is a very similar situation to so many people in the United States right now.  People get focused on their job and forget about their physical health.  What was the motivation to make a significant change in your life?

BW:  I was motivated to change my life and my health for my future children and my family.  I was finding myself worried about my health, and I could see myself getting heavier and heavier.  At my heaviest, I weight 268 pounds in the summer of 2014, and it was then that I started to turn around my diet and my level of activity.


TR: Having children or considering having children in the near future is certainly a major motivating factor to improving your health.  I know that was the primary reason that I regained my athletic life after a layoff to focus entirely on my job.  When I realized that I would be responsible for another life, it lit a fire.  When that fire starts, there are lots of things you could do to make a change, but you chose to check out, perhaps the far end of the scale.  How did you hear about the RRL?


BW:  Mike Drew!  One evening he told me about his workouts, and while it shocked me what he was describing you all were doing, I thought, "I want to be able to do that!"  Mike challenged me to join him the next morning, offering to drive.  I took him up on it, and well...it was a crazy workout day.


TR: That is awesome.  Mike is a great role model.  He gives it everything he has and has also made some significant improvements in his strength and conditioning.  I often hear guys talking about their first day at the RRL.  I would imagine that it could be a little intimidating by all outward appearance, but exactly the opposite once you are a part of it.  What was it like for you?  Do you remember what we did?   How did you feel?  What did you think?

BW:  When I got into Mike's car to drive over, Mike said, "well, you picked a good day."  Mike showed me the board, and explained where the warm-up was listed and the spot for the day's workout.  There I read, "Young."  I remember doing the "warm up" and thinking, "Woah, this is what I do to 'work out,' and there's more?"

Young was a challenge.  I ended up doing 2 rounds of Young, and it was painful the whole way.  Also, that was the first day I did a burpee...

(Young is a workout that we do on a beautiful gradual hill that is about 1/2 Mile long.  We do 5 burpees at the bottom of the hill and 5 burpees at the top and we repeat this 5 times for time)

That day at Baylor, I had more energy all day than I had had in a long time.  I was fired up!  Now, don't get me wrong, I was also in pain!  I do not think I made it to the RRL the next day.


TR: That is quite a change from doing nothing or very little to Young x 5!  Good job.  I am sure you were sore.   Plus...you met a whole new group of guys willing to get up at 5 am and get after it.  What made you come back?

BW:  I thought the RRL was crazy.  But I was also attracted to the challenge.  I wanted to get stronger, and I wanted to push myself, and that's what happened on that hill.

TR: You have become extremely consistent in attendance.  How did you do it and what is your schedule like now?

BW:  At first, I was pretty inconsistent.  However, I found that the more I came, the better I felt.  I found myself growing stronger and stronger, and no doubt does this motivate me.  But, in addition, the RRL community is a motivating one.  When you miss a day, you not only miss out on getting stronger, but you also miss out on sharing that workout with the great men at the RRL.  They challenge you to grow, they help you learn how to work, and we have a great time.  

In all seriousness, whether it is Kevin running with me on my first 5k, or Matt Greenwell helping me pace my first 5 miler, or any guy motivating me with a kind word, the men at RRL build each other up.  I am grateful for all of them.

In the last couple of months, I have landed on coming Monday through Thursday.  I would come on Friday, but I am usually up until 12:30 or later because I have dorm duty on Thursday nights.


TR: Making big changes in your physical activity is one thing.  Over the last year, how has your diet changed?  How do you eat today?

 Weight on the decline but still eating the cheese

Weight on the decline but still eating the cheese

BW:  I eat more vegetables and fruit.  I eat less bread, consume less sugar, eat far less fried food, and I have tried to be more mindful of how much cheese I eat, but really, I still eat a lot of cheese...I like cheese.

Anyways, In general, I am more mindful of what I am eating, making some changes.  But I do not feel like I have drastically changed my diet.

TR: Just looking at you, it is obvious that you have transformed in one year.  How much weight have you actually lost?  What results have you had inLifting, Running, Skills, etc…?

BW:  I now weigh about 240, having lost over 25 pounds.  However, I have lost a lot more than 25 pounds of fat.  I know I am getting more fit when all of my pants are too big.

While I do not know all my numbers, a year ago, I scaled every weightlifting workout we did 50-70% Rx.  I am now doing a lot of our workouts Rx, which is a lot of fun.  It has taken a long time to build up to it, but it feels great!

Before coming to the RRL, I had not run a mile on actual pavement in about five years.  Today, February 6th, I ran over seven miles on Stringer's Ridge (the longest run I have made to date).


TR: Man...that is incredible.  Great work!  Those are significant improvements.  Making big changes and getting better is alot of fun.  Is that your favorite thing about the last year or is there something else that you really like about the RRL and what we do here?

BW:  The community and the challenge are my favorite parts without question.

TR: What is your least favorite thing?

BW:  We don't play enough Coldplay during our workouts...

TR: Ha!  That is hilarious.  (Everyone at the RRL knows that I really don't like Coldplay on the workout playlist) It seems that everyone has at least 1 skill (bear crawls, cleans, handstand pushups, double unders, etc…) that they are pretty good at or even the best of the group.  What would you consider your best skill?  Is it picking the workout music?

BW:  I get low and dominate those squats!  I can kill some wall balls...

TR: You definitely can!  Rest assured...there will always be plenty of squats and wall balls.  We have done so many different things and types of workouts in the last yearCan you tell me what workout sticks out as the most challenging to you over the last year?

BW:  I am remembering a slog of burpees and thrusters...over and over and over...so tough.

 1 year later, Byron is a stud

1 year later, Byron is a stud


TR: Do you have an absolute favorite workout that we have done? 

BW:  My favorite is Young...it has a special place in my heart!

TR:  Ah...Young.  That is a good one on its own...plus it was your first with us.  How about a least favorite? 

BW:  I don't have one.

TR: Really...I take that as a challenge...just wait til Monday.  Do you track your workouts?

BW:  I track my runs, but not my numbers for our other workouts...now that you mention it, I am going to start!

(We use www.beyondthewhiteboard.com.  You can search Toms Garage/RRL and see the workouts and results daily.  You can also join the gym by sending me a request)


TR: Tracking is an excelent way to stay motivated by seeing your exact progress to this point.  Also, you can easily point out places where your training is not working based on your results.  Maybe you are going too hard, maybe you need rest.  Generally, your results speak volumes on the effectiveness of the training.  I really like to track everything because I can quickly see if I have done a workout before and I can have a target time or weight to strive for.  It makes it more fun for me.  Tracking is also a great way to set goals.  You can see your progress and forecast what an achievable goal might be and what a far reaching goal would be. Speaking of goals,,, What are your goals for 2016?

BW:  My goals this year:
Be able to do pull-ups unassisted,
Run in a race (and maybe more after that)
Get down to 230 pounds.


TR: You will be able to accomplish all of those, and I will help.  Here is a way you can help other people.  There are lots of people who find themselves in a very similar situation to where you were last year.  What advice might you give them?

BW:  You can do it!  It will be tough, but totally worth it!  The expense of time it takes to workout is paid back many fold by all the energy you gain!  All areas of your life will improve!  You will sleep better, you won't lose your breath when walking up steps, you will feel smarter, you will pick up your kids without worry of not being able to!

TR:  Thanks so much Byron!  Great work!  So glad to have you in the RRL.

Matt Lawson Interview after SealFit Kokoro 40

Matt Lawson SealFit Kokoro AAR

I graduated SealFit Kokoro 30 in October of 2013.  It was a deeply powerful experience that has transformed my life in many ways.  Very few days go by that I do not think about the camp, the friends I made there or the lessons learned.

It is extremely exciting to me when one of my friends wants to experience this for themselves.  Recently, Matt Lawson decided to give it a go and has just returned from Kokoro 40.  Having successfully passed and graduated, I am excited to learn much more about his experience.  We will start with this interview, but hopefully we will return to discuss more with Matt about how he is using Kokoro in his everyday life.

So, if you are considering taking a real challenge in your life, SealFit Kokoro wont disappoint.  Check out this interview with Matt Lawson:

Name:    Matt Lawson

Age: 41 years old

Profession:

 Co-Owner of Lawson Winchester Wealth Management


TR-What kind of athletic background do you have?

ML-I grew up playing basketball, football, baseball and golf.  I played basketball and golf in high school.  I received a golf scholarship for college.  I worked out regularly from college to age 28.  From age 29 to 38 my workouts were spotty and inconsistent at best.  At age 39 with our second child being born in March of 2013, I decided it was time to step up and make a change.


TR-How did you find SEALFIT:

ML-I was randomly searching the internet in May of 2013 for something different than the typical bodybuilding workout.  I was looking for a philosophy that incorporated more than just lifting weights.


TR-Have you done any other events like this?  Maybe a 20x, Goruck or other events?

ML-Yes.  I completed a SEALFIT 20X Challenge in November 2013.  I ran the Ragnar overnight trail runs in 2014 and 2015.  I ran a Marathon this past March in Knoxville.


TR-Why did you choose to do Kokoro?
 
ML-When I first read about Kokoro on SEALFIT’s website I was very interested.  I wanted to challenge my mental toughness. You really don’t know until you step up.  I wanted to see if I had what it took to make it through 50 plus hours of mental and physical stress.  I also thought this type of event would be a good example to use for our children to show them that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work and follow thru on their commitment.


TR-I can remember the moment that I made the commitment to do Kokoro.  I put my credit card info into the website and hovered my finger over the submit button.  Finally, I presssed the button and knew there was no turning back.  What was your decision like?  What challenges did you have at home?  Work?
 
ML-I made the commitment to myself the first time I read about it in May 2013.  I just had a lot of work ahead of me.  My wife, Megan was hesitant at first.  She wanted to know what the point was in subjecting myself to something as demanding as Kokoro.  As time went on she became very supportive and encouraging which helped tremendously.  My business partner, Bill Winchester was great through the entire process especially with the amount oftime that was required to properly train for Kokoro.  My home and work environments were very supportive.  I am very grateful.

TR-Kokoro is not something that you can just do without significant physical and mental preparation.  What did your training look like?

ML-My morning workouts were at the RRL.  I did SEALFIT OPWODs in the afternoon and Saturdays about 4 months out from Kokoro .  I also did lots of running and rucking.


TR-Were you prepared?

ML-Yes.  There is always room for improvement but overall I felt pretty good.  I read as much as possible about Kokoro.  I really appreciate the information that you (Tom Rowland) shared with me about your Kokoro class 30 experiences.  That was very helpful.  Also having the support from friends and family goes a long way.  Especially when you are cold, wet and sandy.


TR-What one thing were you the happiest that you had done in training?
 
ML-Run, run and run with BDU pants and wet boots.


TR-What one thing would you add to the training?  

ML-More rucking while carrying heavy objects


TR-My experience was filled with many high points and lots of low points, but I can clearly remember several that stand out as the highest of the high or the lowest of the low.  Did you have a noticeable high point in the camp?  How about a low point?

ML-I felt unstoppable early Sunday morning after about 35 plus hours on the beach carrying my 50lb rock up and down countless stairs.  It was amazing and a testament to what we are all truly capable of accomplishing once we conquer our minds and remove the limitations that we place on ourselves. Of course when Coach Divine said we were secured after 52 hours of work that was very special too.  This was the culmination of 2 years of intense training, focus and sacrifice.  

 

TR-Tell us about your lowest moment

ML-It was Friday night after a 27 mile ruck up and down Palomar Mountain under significant load.  We were all cold, wet and sandy bear crawling 200 yards up and down hills along with other drills that pushed us beyond our perceived limits.  The intensity and pace were relentless.  Then came the countless rocking chairs in the lake coupled with the cold winds.  It was tough but that is when we started to come together as a team. Our communication improved greatly and we started focusing on the person beside us. That was an awesome feeling.  We still had a long way to go but that was a big first step.


TR-What was your diet like in preparation?  

ML-Fat boy special with extra protein and creatine.


TR-Between the lack of sleep, cold water or endless running and rucking, which was the most challenging?  

ML-All of those represented their own unique challenges.  The rucking under load plus carrying additional objects at a fast pace over a long distance was challenging.

 

TR-What one lesson will you take back to your personal life?  

ML-I learned countless lessons through the pain and suffering.  
We are all capable of 20, 30 times more than we think is possible.  We have to remove the self-imposed limitation on ourselves.  Teamwork is the key and lifting each other up with positive reinforcement is everything.  We are so much stronger together than as individuals.
100% effort, 100% of the times.  We will all need assistance at one point or another and we should be quick to reach and lift up each other.  A positive gesture or comment goes a very long way in helping your teammate and yourself.  Always be positive and encourage others.  Kokoro is very special and I can draw upon the lessons learned for the rest of my life.

TR- 50 hours of non stop exercise makes a person hungry.  I can remember eating a TON of food, ordering 3 milkshakes at once, eating 3 hamburgers and then going out for dinner.  What did the next 24 hours look like for you and your diet?

 ML-My first meal after being secured was the buffet spread SEALFIT provided just off the grinder.  It was chicken, beef and barbeque tacos and rice.  Plenty of extra sides, fruitand desserts.  They had beer and just about any other beverage you can think of.
It was really cool because all the coaches and interns stayed and ate with us.  It was fun.  That lasted for a couple of hours.  I went back to my room and slept for about 5 hours then ate a large pizza and went back to bed.  The next morning I killed some waffles and eggs.  I drank tons of water.   I really could not eat enough for about a week after the event, my body was so depleted and broken down.
 
 
TR-What one thing would you take to Kokoro?
ML-Since I had consulted you before leaving for Kokoro, I was very prepared on what to take.  The towel came in very handy.  The funny thing is we traveled and packed like Spartans, meaning coach Cummings had us place a couple of pairs of shorts, BDU’s and tee shirts along with our running shoes in a plastic garbage bag.  We were wearing boots, BDU pants and tee shirt.  We left SEALFIT HQ Friday morning with only our garbage bagsand traveled to some remote mountainfor the first 24 plus hours of evolutions.
 


 
TR-I saw some amazing things in my camp.  Was there one thing that you can remember as the most impressive thing that you saw someone do or endure?


ML-There were several things that impressed me over the 52 hours at Kokoro.  Teammates breaking down only to be picked up by others and come back stronger than before.  The overall support and encouragement from all team members is hard to put into words.  It is truly amazing what we all can accomplish when we remove ourselves and focus on others.  The class was constantly rallying around teammates to lift them up, not to their load but to provide words of encouragement.  All that being said, there was one situation where the coaches wanted to drop an individual.  They put it up to a vote.  We voted to keep him.  That was not good enough, so the coaches said if there was anyone in our class that can complete the “FRAN” in less than 3 minutes then the individual can stay for now.  One of our teammates stepped forward and after roughly 20 to 24 hours of evolutions (while being cold, we and sandy, no sleep) he completed the “FRAN” in 2:48.  To say it was impressive is a gross understatement.  The coaches were speechless, which as you know is rare.
 

ML-Thank you Tom for the interview

TR- Congratulations on completing Kokoro.  I look forward to seeing how you incorporate the lessons you learned into your everyday life.  Hooyah!


Matt Lawson


Goruck Selection and SealFit Kokoro Interview with Jonathan Hurtado

When I was getting ready for Goruck Selection Class 015, I set up this blog and began documenting my training.  I didn't really think that anyone would read it...I didnt care.  I just wanted to document the training.  Along the way, I met a guy named Jonathan Hurtado who came across my blog.  We conversed via email and through the comments and started to kind of train together for Selection. 

We posted our times and weights to the blog.  I could tell that Jonathan was a serious athlete and in some events was killing me.  In others, we were even and others, I was ahead. 

When leaving for Selection, Jonathan and I set a meeting place and got together to discuss strategy and gear.  We probably should have had this talk much earlier because we both made mistakes.  Who knows...if we had talked more, maybe we would have made even worse decisions that we did.  You can't second guess, but rather just learn from your mistakes and continue to move forward.

I liked Jonathan right away and was impressed with his resume of Goruck events.  I learned a few things from him right away.  We shared a couple of meals before the event and then had an awesome meal of 4 cheeseburgers, 3 orders of fries, and 2 large chocolate milkshakes after Selection...one of my favorite meals of all time.

Jonathan aced the fitness test and made it a long way into the Welcome Party.  I saw him throughout the event and drew comfort and motivation from a familiar face.  I went there with 3 friends, but in a dark and uncomfortable place like Selection, you draw from any little thing.  A familiar face goes a long way.

Jonathan and I have stayed in touch and I recently sat down and got to ask him a few questions about the last Selecton, the next one and a possible stop at SelFit Kokoro.


Hey Jonathan,  great to hear from you.  Thanks for sitting down and talking for a few.

TR:  Tell us a little about yourself…where do you live?  What do you do for a living?

JH: I currently live near San Francisco, working as a programmer at Crystal Dynamics, a video game studio.  I've been in the video game industry for four years, having worked on games like Grand Theft Auto V and the recently released Lara Croft & The Temple of Osiris.  Prior to that, I worked as a web developer in New York City.

TR:    What was your athletic background?

JH: I got into weight lifting when I tried wrestling in high school and later biking when I moved to Washington (state).  I was in decent shape, but it wasn't until I started training for my first Tough Mudder in 2012 that I improved my fitness.  Besides running, I purchased some kettlebells and did a program of two handed swings and Turkish get-ups.  That got me into incredible shape and I was able to finish my first Tough Mudder.

TR:  How did you get interested in Goruck and what events have you done to date?

JH: I remember when I first read about GORUCK well before I did my first Tough Mudder and thought how stupid it sounded. "12 hours?  While carrying six bricks?  Why would anyone do that?"  After finishing my first Tough Mudder, I was hooked on obstacle course racing and immediately started looking for other events to finish.  After completing another Tough Mudder and a Spartan Super, I reconsidered the GORUCK Challenge as the next event to do.

My first GORUCK Challenge made a huge impact on my life that I still feel to this day.  The stories Cadre "Big Daddy" told during that event taught a powerful lesson of appreciating how my life is going (as others unfortunately have it worse), and completing the event instilled confidence in confronting matters that are outside my comfort level.  I have since finished seven other GORUCK events, including a back-to-back Light & Challenge and an HCL (back-to-back-to-back GORUCK Heavy, Challenge, and Light).

TR:  We trained virtually for Selection through the use of my blog.  We were both using the Military Athlete program to get ready.  Tell us about your road to Selection and how you prepared for the training that we did.

JH: When I found out about GORUCK Selection, I thought it was insane and I wouldn't even consider doing it.  After finishing my first Challenge, I went back to view the Selection promo video and its “This probably isn't for you.  Or is it?” tagline goaded me to consider doing the event.  I purchased my Selection entry on January 2014, giving me ten months to train before Selection 015 at Jacksonville Beach in October.

I was a fan of Military Athlete’s GORUCK Challenge plan, so I purchased their Heavy and Selection plans.  The training strategy for GORUCK Selection was to use one plan to train and do its corresponding event in order to be strong enough to do the next plan.  Thus, I start with their Challenge plan and do a GORUCK Challenge, then follow their Heavy plan and do a GORUCK Heavy, then go through their Selection plan before GORUCK Selection.

I ended up doing an HCL instead of a Heavy due to a scheduling conflict, which was good and bad.  Good in that it gave me experience in exerting myself for 48 hours with very little sleep, but bad in that I sprained my ankle near the end of the Heavy portion of the HCL.  I was able to finish the entire event despite my injury, but I thought that my injury was going to prevent me from doing Selection.  After the HCL and some rest, I started the first couple of weeks of the Military Athlete Selection plan while avoiding exercises that would put weight on my foot.  I had an MRI done on my ankle and decided that if the results were not good, I would not do Selection.  The MRI indicated that I had no torn ligaments on my ankle, so I resumed the full training once it was feeling better.

TR:  Do you have training partners?  Where do you train?

JH: I mostly work out alone.  There's a gym near where I work, so I go there early in the morning to train.  There's also a trail right next to where I live, so I use that for my runs and rucks, although it's mostly flat.  I have done a few training rucks with a friend who completed a Challenge with me.

TR:  I saw you throughout the fitness test and then through most of the Welcome party.  You were doing great.  I had heard before Selection that you never really see how people exit, you just look around and they are gone.  I looked around for familiar faces and they were all gone.  What happened to you?

JH: There were three issues during the Welcome Party that broke my resolve.  The first was my gear set-up.  I went with GORUCK's recommendation to use a GR0 for Selection, but the boots I planned to use did not fit in the rucksack with a full hydration bladder and other items.  I concocted a set-up where I attached a GORUCK brick bag to the GR0 with carabiners so that I could store my boots (and later shoes).  This was a terrible idea in retrospect because it made the rucksack heavier and certain exercises more difficult than they needed to be.  Also, the reflective belt I used on my rucksack kept coming off (tip: don't use velcro belts), and that warranted special attention from the cadre.

The second was a weakness that came up during Selection, overhead squats.  I did not have the flexibility to do these properly, and this affected how I perceived my performance during the Welcome Party.

The third were the warnings of being performance dropped after finishing last in a couple of Welcome Party events.  At that point, I was tired, my legs were feeling heavy, and I felt I couldn't perform to standard.  I was already fighting doubts on whether I trained hard enough for Selection, but I was able to keep those doubts at bay as I progressed through the PT test.  The warnings, however, psyched me out.

Those three issues created a perfect storm where I doubted my ability to continue and convinced myself that I was better off quitting, address my weaknesses, and come back stronger for the next event.  Was that really the case?  It's debatable.  I probably could have stuck it out longer, but my gear and flexibility issues would have made that very difficult.

TR:  What lessons did you learn from Selection?

JH: Test my gear thoroughly.  Due to time constraints, I didn't have an opportunity to fully test my final Selection load-out before the event.  If I did, I wouldn't have gone with the brick bag set-up. I might have used a GR1 over a GR0.

I also learned that I needed to work on my flexibility.  I saw a personal trainer after Selection and he pointed out areas where I was really tight.  He recommended a variety of exercises to loosen up, so I now incorporate those into my workouts.  I'll also be working on my overhead squat.

TR:  Looking back at Goruck Selection in Jacksonville.  Do you consider it a success or a failure in your eyes?  Explain why…

JH: While not finishing Selection was a disappointment, I still consider it a success because I got to see what my weaknesses are.  I have a clear idea on what I need to do to address them, and I'm excited at the thought of getting even stronger.  I've learned that failure isn't necessarily a bad thing if you approach it as a learning experience and use it as an impetus to make yourself better.

TR:  Are you going to try Selection again?  What will you do differently?

JH: Yes, I have registered for Selection 017 at Bozeman, MT in August 2015.  Jon Eytchison, the sole finisher of Selection 015, described his Selection training plan in his AAR.  That will be the blueprint for my Selection training plan.  I’m also doing a Pre-Selection prior to Bozeman to gauge whether I'll be ready for the actual event.  What I learn from Pre-Selection will guide the final months of my Selection training.

TR:   What pack do you expect to use in Bozeman Selection?  Which did you use in Jacksonville Selection?  How do you think you will prepare your gear differently for Bozeman Goruck Selection considering what you have learned from the Jacksonville Goruck Selection?

JH: I used a GR0 for Jacksonville, but I couldn't fit my boots in the ruck with a full hydration bladder.  One thing that was interesting was that Jon had the same problem fitting boots into his GR0, so he didn't bring any to Selection!  I'll either have to find lighter boots (which are hard since ultra wide boots that drain are not common) or consider using a GR1 instead.  I'll also pack as few items as possible.  Since the cadre are going to dump all our gear out at the beginning of the event, having fewer items will make stuffing them back into my ruck a lot easier and less stressful.

TR:  One of the things that we have discussed extensively is the possibility of doing SealFit Kokoro.  Is this something that you are going to do?

JH: Yes, I'm registered for Kokoro 36 in February.

TR:  How are you preparing for Kokoro?

JH: I'm doing a mix of Wendler's 5/3/1 Lifting (for strength), Military Athlete's Murph plan (to prepare for Kokoro's Murph requirement), the running portion of the BUDS Warning Order for Navy Seal Training, and long runs on Saturday.  I have also been taking cold showers to prepare for the Pacific Ocean surf torture.

TR:  Did you have any foot issues in Goruck Selection?  What are you doing to prepare your feet for Kokoro and Selection now?

JH: No.  Despite my ankle injury from HCL, it didn't come up at all during Selection.  I didn't get any blisters during Selection, and I attribute that to my set-up of Trail Toes, Injiji toe socks (as a liner), and Merino Wool boot socks.  I've rucked as far as 20 miles in this set-up without issues, so I imagine that it will serve me well during Kokoro.  As for preparing my feet for Kokoro and Selection, I train in wet boots when I can.

TR:  Do you have any expectations or goals for Kokoro?

JH: A key point that keeps being brought up in Kokoro videos and AARs is to know your why, as in why are you doing this?  There are various reasons why I’m doing Kokoro (such as becoming a better leader), but my main reason for going through a crucible like Kokoro is to give me insight on what's needed to pass Selection.

TR:  I think that the best meal I have ever had were those 3 burgers, fries and 2 milkshakes that I had with you the day after Goruck Selection!  I know you are probably watching your diet now and dreaming of food.  Do you have a meal that you plan on eating after Selection Bozeman, SealFit Kokoro?

JH: It will either be a burger, fries, and shake combo, or a whole pizza pie.

TR:  When I have the opportunity to talk to someone who is into the same things I am  (Selection, Kokoro, heavy training) I always want to know one thing…why are you doing this?

JH: Jason McCarthy, the founder of GORUCK, had said this and it has stuck with me ever since, "Live life to the fullest, because tomorrow is not a promise."  Since there is no guarantee that I’ll be around tomorrow, I have to treat each day as a gift and make the most of it.  Training for these events and testing my limits is my way of fulfilling that credo.  Also, I enjoy a good challenge, and I get pleasure out of completing something that people consider hard or impossible.

TR:  Imagine that it is 3:45 am, you are submerged in the cold Pacific Ocean and you are as cold as you have ever been.  The instructors demand that you continue this beach party for another 4 hours.  What are you going to think about to get you through?

JH:  I'll have to rely on my mental toughness techniques to get through that.  As bad as the surf torture will be, it will end at some point.  Others before me have gone through a similar experience, and if they can complete it, so can I.

TR:    The thing I struggled with most was training for the lack of food and electrolytes.  In Selection, we did not get anything to eat and only a few stops for plain water for 18 hours of intense exercise.  I started cramping, throwing up and having issues related to electrolyte imbalance.  037, ended up in the hospital with very serious Rhabdo, and eventually Tubular Necrosis.  Do you think that you can train your body to be ready for the lack of nutrition and electrolytes?  If so, what are you doing?

JH: I talked to some Selection finishers regarding their diet plan prior to Selection and both recommended Intermittent Fasting, where you only consume calories during a specific period of the day.  One also suggested Ketosis, where you restrict your carbohydrate intake to get your body fat-adapted.  This was the diet I followed before Selection, and I wasn't feeling hungry during the Welcome Party.  I don't know how my body would have reacted if I got past the Welcome Party, but I see myself following the same plan when I'm prepping for Selection again.

TR:    From what you learned from Goruck Selection in Jacksonville, do you think that you could lay out some benchmarks that anyone would need to be able to complete easily to make sure that they made it through the Fitness Test and the Welcome Party?

JH: You need to do 80 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, run 5 miles in 35 minutes, and ruck 12 miles with 45# dry in under 3 hours.  That will give you a fitness cushion that will ensure that you’ll complete the standards regardless of your state.  I guarantee that you won’t be at 100% when you do the Selection PT test, most likely because of nerves.

Proper form is also vital.  Cadre will no-rep any push-up or sit-up that is not up to standard, so make sure that when you’re hitting those benchmarks, that they are done properly.  I strongly recommend asking GORUCK cadre to review your push-up and sit-up form.  Mark Webb has an excellent write-up on push-ups that can also help.  

I got this tip from Cadre Surfhog after Selection: do the hardest workout imaginable, then do the PT test.  If you can pass the PT test in a fatigued state, you have an excellent chance of passing the Selection PT test.

As for the Welcome Party, it's a non-stop nightmare of ruck PT, so do something like Boot Camp or Crossfit with your ruck.  View the last fifteen minutes of GORUCK Selection (see "1230 Saturday / Shark Attack" in the Selection 015 recap) and do those exercises.  If you have issues with any of those exercises, then you know what you need to work on.

I would also recommend seeing a personal trainer and have him or her review your flexibility.  If you are tight in certain areas, learn the corrective exercises from the trainer and incorporate them into your warm-ups and cool-downs.

TR:  Jonathan, it is an honor to know you.  You are a true inspiration and a great example of someone living his life to its full potential.  I wish you all the best and I know that you will be successful in your quest for Selection and Kokoro.  Can we catch up and do another interview after Kokoro?

JH:  Thanks!  I appreciate the advice you've given me as I prepare for Kokoro.  I will absolutely do another interview after SealFit Kokoro.

Chip Lusk and the Birth of a garage gym

 The men and women of the RRLanta at a Goruck Challenge in Atlanta.  Chip Lusk, front row center

The men and women of the RRLanta at a Goruck Challenge in Atlanta.  Chip Lusk, front row center


This group has made life richer for our family. The garage guys look out for each other’s kids and property, we help each other out with projects, we laugh and argue, we talk religion, sports, politics, family and work, and we hang out at our neighborhood park and pool with our families and each other. Some of us have spent vacations together and shared holiday meals together. I feel lucky to know these guys."

-Chip Lusk on the RRLanta

 


Chip Lusk and the birth of a garage gym

Recently we ran the Ragnar Trail race which is an event that goes on all night.  We have done these events before but on the roads and each team has vans and leap frogs through the 100+ mile course.  The trail event was much different as all teams simply camped in a central area and sent runners out from there.  This format allowed for way more camaraderie and fellowship. 

We were fortunate to camp next to Chip Lusk, RRL alumnus who moved away from Chattanooga for a job opportunity and quickly recreated our setting in Atlanta.  I was very impressed with Chip’s RRLanta group as they were just like ours.  While we all miss seeing Chip, I have to say that I am very impressed and proud that he has been able to build a strong community right out of his garage.  I caught up to Chip to ask him how he did it and learn more about his group.


TR: Hey Chip, great to see you at the Ragnar Trail event!  I loved seeing what you have created from your garage.  Tell us a little about your group.

CL: Hi Tom – RRLanta is similar to the original RRL. I learned from your leadership. I am confident that much of what I say will sound familiar to you.

Our group is mostly a bunch of dads. Their ages range from mid 30s to mid 50s, but I think most of us are in our mid to upper 40s and feeling younger each year. We have lawyers, bankers, business owners, sales brokers, a doctor, and (it is the ATL) some commercial real estate guys.


TR: How long have you been hosting workouts from your Garage?

CL: We moved into our Atlanta home in July 2011. I worked out on my own five days a week until approximately Thanksgiving. That’s when I was joined by a friend who wanted to get back into shape. Within a month, he had lost 25 to 30 pounds. From December to April, it was the two of us. Then, we were joined by two more friends, who also saw immediate results. Next, word of mouth took over. Neighbors saw guys losing weight and getting stronger and wanted to be involved.


TR: Why did you want to set up your own rather than just joining a gym?

CL: The main reason I wanted to set up a garage gym was to develop community. I missed the workout community you developed and I wanted to recreate it in Atlanta.

I welcome anyone. While we have only a few rules, one of them is no ‘a-holes’ allowed – this one has never needed to be enforced, but I’ve joked around about it a couple of times.


TR: Tell us about how it started?  How did you get the first few to start coming regularly?

CL: It started in a bar over a couple of beers in the Fall of 2011. The friend I mentioned before was between relationships and looking for some positive changes in his life. We agreed to meet at 5:30 am Monday through Friday. The results followed and spoke for themselves.

Honestly, the best sales (I use that term loosely) tactic is when our community swimming pool opens each summer. Suddenly, neighbors are noticing that the new ‘garage guys’ have lost their beer bellies and now have abs and upper body strength.


TR: How much does it cost?

CL: I don’t charge anything for the workouts. It is my gift to our community. With that said, good CrossFit equipment is expensive. To get started, I bought the first round of equipment (about $3k) for the garage which arrived on two wooden pallets from Rogue. Since then, the guys usually pass the ‘equipment replenishment fund’ hat every six months to collect money for new equipment. These donations are completely optional and capped at $200 per person.


TR: What time do you workout?

CL: Guys start arriving at the garage between 5:15 and 5:30 am to stretch and warm-up. During the school year, we are done by 6:30 am, so everyone can get home to help get kids ready for school. In the summer, we have been known to go until 7:00 am.


TR: You probably have lots of different athletic abilities at your garage.  How do you create workouts that all of your athletes can do?

CL: We have all different fitness levels. The beauty of CrossFit workouts is that they are easily scalable. I like it when we have eight or more guys because then usually everyone has someone at his level. If we have a new guy, then I always do a form demo, encourage him to scale and tell him what that looks like. It is smart to scale. I often scale workouts myself.


TR: Did you, or do you face any challenges with neighbors/your wife/children/police?

CL: My wife is a tolerant champ. She understands that this community is important to me. These guys hold each other accountable and help each other out. We have become great friends.

My kids think I have an obsessive addiction to CrossFit – they’re probably right, but I see it as a way to stay fit and build a kick-butt community of trustworthy men.

My immediate neighbors are intrigued and (fortunately) good sleepers. I reserve tire flipping, sledge hammer striking and heavy weight dropping workouts for special late workout days.

We live in an active neighborhood. There are bikers, swimmers, runners, speed walkers, and dog walkers. Many regulars pass by the garage to say hello. Overall, the neighborhood has been supportive of the garage/street workouts.


TR: How many people show up on a regular morning now?

CL: We typically have about eight to twelve guys.


TR: How do you determine your training?

CL: Training is determined by what we have on our event calendar. If Ragnar, then we do more running. Our typical week is a CrossFit WoD on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Cardio (run, swim or row) on Tuesday and Thursday. And, a small group long run on the weekend.

Lately, we have been focused on Hero WoDs, but my favorite format is a team WoD.


TR: What events has your group done together?

CL: We did the Atlanta GoRuck Challenge in 2012, the 2013 Tennessee Ragnar, the 2014 Atlanta Ragnar and the 2014 Atlanta Tough Mudder. We do the Peachtree Road Race together each year – it goes right by our neighborhood. We also do family workouts in our neighborhood park several times a year. And, we’ve had lots of parties together to celebrate events and life.


TR: What events are you currently preparing for?

CL: We have a small group planning to do Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon in Fall 2014, so I am adding long(er) runs on the weekends. We have two 12 man teams going to Miami for the 2015 Florida Keys Ragnar. But, our next fun team event is this coming weekend – the Best Butt in Brookwood Hills – it’s a BBQ cooking competition to raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The garage has several four man teams who are each cooking butts, ribs and briskets on our Big Green Eggs. One team is doing an open pit whole hog. We plan to set up an outdoor movie theater and watch classics, like Fletch and Caddy Shack while the BBQ cooks.


TR: What does this group mean to you?

CL: This group has made life richer for our family. The garage guys look out for each other’s kids and property, we help each other out with projects, we laugh and argue, we talk religion, sports, politics, family and work, and we hang out at our neighborhood park and pool with our families and each other. Some of us have spent vacations together and shared holiday meals together. I feel lucky to know these guys.


TR: How big is your garage and what equipment do you have?

CL: I have a normal two car garage, which will still hold one car when no one is working out.

We have two pull up bars, two sets of rings, seven Olympic bars and lots of bumper plates, three pairs of kettlebells, two sets of dumbbells, two plyo boxes, three med balls, a squat rack and bench, two C-2 rowers, one GHD machine, and lots of jump ropes, logs, sand bags and AbMats. I’m sure that there are things that I’m forgetting.


TR: How did you collect equipment?

CL: I am always watching for a good deal on a piece of equipment we can use. Occasionally, I’ll find a good opportunity on Craigslist. Most of my equipment came from Rogue Fitness.


TR: Many people follow our facebook page and this blog that have expressed interest in starting their own RRL-style group.  What advice could you give someone who would like to get a group started?

CL:  Building a RRL-type garage is a good way to develop community and stay in shape. Here’s what worked for our group:
Find resources – find a few go-to websites for workout ideas.
Be consistent – set days and hours that are easy to remember and then rarely deviate.
Communicate – establish a google group email distribution list and then add the guys that have been to the garage. We use the list to organize events, long runs or even to ask who’s going to the pool on a Friday afternoon.
Communicate, more – establish a forum to communicate the daily workout. We use a Facebook page – RRLanta. Guys that miss the workout want to know what it was.
Encourage – it is okay to critique form, but do not criticize performance
Have fun – we bought a 40 cup coffee urn this past winter. Now, we usually have a cup of coffee at the end of the workout. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

 

TR:  Thanks Chip and congratulations to you and your group for creating a rich community!

 

Jordan Does SealFit 20x

Jordan Gallup has been coming to the RRL for over 2 years.  He stays in good shape...good enough to take on the SealFit 20x Challenge at the last minute.  I asked Jordan a few questions about his experience and he was nice enough to share some insight.  If you are considering taking your training and your life to the next level, 20x is a great step.

 Jordan in the mud pit during the last few hours of SealFit 20x

Jordan in the mud pit during the last few hours of SealFit 20x

TR:  Hey Jordan.  I heard you recently did a SealFit 20x Challenge.  What is it?

JG: SealFit 20x Challenge is a 12-14 hour event taught by Former Navy SEALs and SealFit coaches. It's called 20x because it shows you that you can do 20 times more than you think you can.


TR: How did you prepare for it?

JG: I only found out about it a few days before the event and really didn't know what I was getting in to. But I have been doing CrossFit and SealFit workouts for a little over two years now. I also memorized the SEAL Code and Invictus, which saved my team from punishment later.


TR: Were you well prepared?

JG: I think it's impossible to be fully prepared, because when it's 42 degrees out at 6am and smoke grenades, flares, and sirens start going off and you have to fully submerge in an ice bath and go through a muddy trench, it's a lot different from any other CrossFit workout you've ever done.


TR: What did you learn?

JG: I really enjoyed hearing from Coach Brad McLeod during the short classroom session. He went over the SEAL Code and what it means to have a Code for your own life. We also learned the importance of having a "why." Having a "why" helps keep you mentally focused to get through SealFit, but also applies to everyday life to see the bigger picture. "Why" am I doing the 20x Challenge? "Why" am I working at my current job. "Why" am I volunteering at my church? etc.


TR: How did this experience effect you?

JG: It has really helped my normal workouts. I had never worked out for 13+ hours in a row before or anywhere close to that number, so it really puts things into perspective while getting through a tough 45 minute SealFit workout.

 Pushing them out under pressure

Pushing them out under pressure


TR: Any special gear?

JG: I brought all the things that SealFit recommends, such as camo/tactical pants, boots, two white shirts with last name stenciled on front and back, rucksack, etc. I'm on a gluten free diet and was thankful I brought my own snacks for lunch. Apple, orange, banana, and protein bar. I also put on sunscreen at 5:30am because you are not going to be able to do it later.


TR: What advice would you give someone who would like to try a 20x?

JG: "Attention to detail" If they say to stencil your last name in black on the front and back of a white t-shirt, do it. If you are the only one wearing a hat, take it off. Try not to stand out in a bad way.

"Nothing Lasts Forever" Try to make small goals for yourself throughout the day. It's hard not to think about the next 12-14 hours when you first get soaked with ice cold water. You start thinking, "I could get back to the wife and kids before they wake up, have a nice little Saturday, go to Home Depot, maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, if we have time." Instead, start thinking, "just get through this evolution, I can do this part." Stop thinking about yourself and look at the people around you going through the same workout you are.

"Never Quit" One evolution had us find a rock of our choice that we were going to hike with. You didn't want to pick a small rock because of the consequences that might come with it, but you didn't want to pick one up that would be impossible to hike with. We were only told, "do not let your rock ever touch the ground." We'd already been hiking the mountain, with our weapon and 35 lb rucksack for over 5 miles, and had no idea how long this part would be. As the rock became harder and harder to carry, I pictured myself carrying my 11 month old daughter, and how I would do anything to keep holding her. Just changing the uncomfortable heavy rock to something that gave me strength, helped me to push through the pain.

 Jordan with Brad McLeod and Turner Rowland celebrating a successful finish

Jordan with Brad McLeod and Turner Rowland celebrating a successful finish

TR: How would you describe the overall experience?  Fun or not?

JG: The overall experience was great and I highly recommend it. Fun or not? It was a lot of fun, but it took a little while to figure that out. The more the group of individuals started to become a team, the more fun it became for everyone. You need to be able to have a positive attitude throughout and the more you can smile and encourage your teammates, the better experience you will have.

 

TR: What did you take from this experience and apply to your daily life?

JG: ”Do Today What Others Won't, Do Tomorrow What Others Can't"
The SEALs use this phrase to apply to going to war and other missions, but I've also applied it personally to my job and my professional future. Whether you are saving your money to buy your dream house or to take your family to DisneyWorld, whether you are spending money to go to a convention to make professional connections, or whether you are getting up at 4:45am to go workout and be a healthier person, the things you do today will affect the things you do in the future.

HOOYAH!

TR: Thanks Jordan...great job!

Matt Ate Chatt, then became Country Strong

Matt Beach, aka “Country Strong”, is an RRL regular, a social media guru and a hometown, Soddy Daisy boy.  I liked Matt as soon as I met him and I have watched him transform mentally and physically since his first visit to the garage.  Every time he tells a story,  I think I like Matt more.

Matt’s road to fitness has not been all sunshine and rainbows, though.  He has had some of the same challenges that we all do; travel, work and family obligations, but he has also had a serious injury.  Matt recovered from a back injury through surgery and is back to completing really, really tough workouts.  

I sat down with Matt to ask him about his journey.

 


TR:  Tell us about your background and where you were before you started working out with us.
 
MB:  I’m married with two wonderful kids. Hometown is Soddy-Daisy TN. I’m an avid outdoorsman – I’m very passionate about fishing and hunting. Love sports but my favorite was soccer. I started playing when I was 6 and ended when I was 23. During that time I played in several rec leagues, select teams, high school, and college. I weighed 155lbs when I graduated high school and could run like a deer. Mid college I got into weight lifting and was also looking for a way to stop smoking. I quit smoking cold turkey, started eating more which went into lifting more weights and other regiments. When I was 24 I had weighed 225lbs and was in great shape. Was soon married – career took off – tons of travel in the many positions I held – then kids…you could say the stresses of life took its toll on my health and I found myself weighing 265lbs, out of shape, and not feeling good about myself. I had started a blog 2yrs ago that was titled “Matt Eats Chatt” – it was a food blog where I would post all my favorites dishes from restaurants that I had been to within the Chattanooga area – one day I was eating lunch with three of my closest friends. One of those guys I hadn’t seen in a while and he had heard about my food blog. The first words out of his mouth when we met was “Matt Eats Chatt huh…Looks more like Matt Ate Chatt – what happened to you?” I’ve heard that being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones. Literally after that lunch I went home and knew I had to make a change.
 
Side note – whenever I wore a red shirt of any kind my brother-n-law would yell out “Hey Kool-Aid!” if he saw me out.
 
 
TR:  How did you find out about us?
 
MB:  My across the street neighbor and fellow RRL member…Kevin DiStasio (The Colonel) mentioned the group to me. Prior to deciding a change needed to be made, KD nicknamed me “Country Strong” – I told Kev that I was making a big change in my eating habits and wanted to have a great fitness routine and accountability. He said the RRL was the perfect place.
 
 
TR:  Do you remember the first workout you did with us?   The first week?  First month?
 
MB:  Little over 2yrs ago – on a Saturday afternoon – It was me, Kevin, Dougy Fresh, and Wyatt. I don’t remember the exact count or name of workout but I do know it was the first time I had ever done a burpee, thruster, and a wall ball. That first visit was all I needed. I showed back up that following Monday morning and was addicted. I’ll never forget meeting Clay Watson for the first time – after Mondays workout Clay came up to me and said “The hardest part of doing this is getting up in the mornings and showing up.” He was right! Showing up was the hard part – getting thru the workout is easy when you have a group of guys pushing you along the way.


TR:  What results did you see?
 
MB:  The pounds started falling off. I was tracking my calorie intake using an app called MyFitnessPal and not missing one morning (when I wasn’t traveling for work) at the RRL. Even when I traveled I would do one of the many travel workouts that are posted on the Fitness Truth website. By working outside at the RRL – my hotel workouts went outside also. In less than a year I went from being 265lbs to being 215lbs.
 
 
TR:  Why do you think you stuck with coming to the RRL?
 
MB:  The camaraderie  among the men. Everyone always pushing each other to be better…whether it be at the garage our outside of the garage.
 
 
 
TR:  How is what we do different than other stuff you may have tried and not stuck with?
 
MB:  I was trying to do it by myself. Running, lifting weights, Running, and lifting weights in the same route, doing the same range of motions over and over was boring. With the group that we have, the many different styles of workouts, the surprise and anticipation of the Whiteboard (not knowing what the workout is until you show up) makes the RRL great and completely different than anything I have ever done.
 
 
 
TR:  You also had a previous back issue that became a problem.  Tell us about that.
 
MB:  I’ve had several past back problems. I did heavy construction for most of my teen years and into my twenties. Back problems were common. One morning at the RRL I was doing a back squat. It was more weight than I had ever tried and when I went down I broke proper form. When that happen I ended up with a bulging disk in my lower back. Instead of proper rest I kept pushing myself over the next few months….ruck workouts, GORUCK Challenge, a Tough Mudder, and other scheduled workouts and work travel. It came to a point when I couldn’t even sit down for a short period of time without pain.
 
 
 
TR:  What did you do about it?
 
MB:  After several chiropractor visits, yoga, stretching/mobility workouts I finally went and saw a local neurosurgeon. Immediately after seeing the MRI results he requested that I have surgery as soon as possible. A few weeks later I went under the knife and came out with immediate relief.

 

 
TR:  The other day, you told me that it was exactly 1 year ago that you had surgery.   How did the recovery go?  How do you feel about your strength level/ flexibility and overall health now?
 
 
MB:  Recovery was great, but 5 weeks of doing nothing was hard. The majority of the first two weeks was my laying on my back and only getting up to eat and restroom breaks. The remaining 3 weeks I set a goal of being able to walk 3 to 5 miles every other day. The last week I did a total of 14 miles. The last doctor visit I was giving the green light to get back into my normal workout routine, but he wanted me to be a bit cautious and more alert to what I did. I haven’t had any problems. If anything I feel 10x better. But I am cautious. My work travel has picked up a ton and doing hotel workouts seem to be the norm. Since being back I’ve completed a Triple Murph (with ruck), Run-Burpee-Run, and a Tough Mudder with a 30lb ruck (loaded with beer).
 
 
 
 
TR:  How did you overcome this adversity?
 
 
MB:  My family. My wife and even my children are huge supporters and my biggest motivation. Everything I do I do for them. Living a better life mentally, physically, and spiritually so that I can be a better husband and father for them.
 
Also – if you’ve ever had a “Dicky Do”…then you know that you never want to go back to having that.
 


 
 
TR:  How did you return to regular workouts?
 
MB:  Slow and light weight. That and Jody Bankston with his watchful eye. Jody was there for the first few weeks when I returned and made sure that I wasn’t over doing it. I also did a 100 day mobility challenge using YouTube videos from Kelly Starrett Mobility WOD Channel.
 
 
 
 
TR:  What did your Dr say about returning to full activity?
 
MB:  Be cautious for the first couple of months, listen to your body, and if there was the slightest pinch then he wanted me to back off. Other than that he definitely wanted me to get back to where I was before the surgery. I think he even came to the RRL a week later.
 
 


 
TR:  You have done a lot of events with our group but also outside of it.  Which are your favorite?
 
 
MB:  Hands down the GORUCK Challenge. Team building is huge with this event and doing it with 26 of your friends made it even better. Training for the GORUCK was also a blast. Many early mornings starting at 3am or 4am and creating ruck obstacles within down town Chattanooga was very fun and very tough. I’ve done three Tough Mudder events. The first one was with my wife in Kentucky. It was a great experience but even more so doing the event with her. The other two were in Atlanta and my last one was in Charlotte NC. The Charlotte one was a bit tougher as I did it with a ruck sack filled with 28 cans of beer. I was probably the most popular person on the course (due to the beer) but there wasn’t any other rucks that I saw. The only reason I did it with a ruck was due to the GRC and looking at ways to challenge myself even more during the TM event.
 
I’m looking at doing a Spartan Beast either this year or next. Ultimate goal is to do a Death Race.
 


 
TR:  What does your wife think about your workouts?
 
MB:  She loves it! Its something we have in common and it’s an area that’s helped improved our relationship. When I say improved I mean sex. I’ve increased my stamina by at least 30 seconds. She sees me being more active with the kids and having more energy to do with them which is what it’s all about for me. Being a better family man….and better in the bedroom.
 
 
TR:  Are you preparing for an event now?   Is there something you would like to do in the future?
 
 
MB:  Another GORUCK Challenge. I’ve done Chattanooga but I want to do a different city. I’ve been looking at Charlotte, Jersey, NY City, or Philly. The GRC will be done with a few of my coworkers. They’ve heard me talk about it and now they are wanting to do one. It will be the same coworkers that I talked into doing the Tough Mudder. The Spartan Beast is definitely in my sights. There’s one in October in SC but I’m not sure I can with my current travel schedule. We shall see.


 
 
TR:  Anything else you want to tell us about the group, overcoming adversity, losing weight or events that you have done?
 
MB:  If you’re ever in Chattanooga and want to experience a life changing atmosphere then visit the RRL! The mental toughness that we as a group have achieved together trumps anything I’ve ever been part of and I’m looking forward to the future of living a better life.

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Mid-life crisis channeled to Ironman

Mid-life crisis channeled to Ironman

Alan Lebovitz is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We went to Bright School together, played sports and went waterskiing as kids.  Alan has always been a terrific athlete and when I moved back to Chattanooga, Alan became a regular early on at the garage.  This year he has entered his midlife crisis and instead of buying a Porsche, he decided to do an Ironman.  While the garage is simply not the same without his everyday presence, I am very proud of Alan and wish him the very best in his Ironman.  Alan has gone "Lone Wolf" on us and is training for this race alone, sometimes waking up super early to get in long bike rides and still have time for his family. 

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From Couch to Marathons

Dave Porfiri is a good friend who I met through producing the Fitness Truth show.  Dave is a television producer too and we actually shot a Fitness Truth episode on his first few days at the RRL.  (Watch it HERE)  Since then, Dave has taken off and never looked back.  He has run over 35 races including a life goal of a Marathon and a couple of back to back Tough Mudders.  I caught up with Dave to ask him some questions about how it is all going.


Hey Dave,

How many marathons and other races have you run so far?


I'VE RUN SIX MARATHONS AND OVER 30 RACES OF SHORTER DISTANCES.


Impressive!, Tell us about your transformation.  Where were you athletically and how did you make the big change?

TWO YEARS AGO I DECIDED TO GET OFF THE COUCH, LARGELY DUE TO YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT. ALTHOUGH I WAS NOT REALLY OVERWEIGHT AT THAT TIME, MY FITNESS WAS SORELY LACKING. FOR SEVERAL YEARS THE ONLY EXERCISE I HAD DONE WAS BRISK WALKING THREE MORNINGS A WEEK. IN RETROSPECT IT WAS PRETTY LAME, BUT I GUESS IT WAS BETTER THAN NOTHING. GETTING INVOLVED WITH THE RRL AND CROSSFIT WAS A MAJOR LIFE CHANGE FOR ME. I DOVE IN HEAD FIRST TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN AND THE TURNING POINT FOR ME WAS
PARTICIPATING IN MY FIRST ATHLETIC EVENT SINCE MY SCHOOL DAYS. IT WAS A LOCAL OBSTACLE RACE AND CROSSFIT CHALLENGE CALLED THE HELLBENDER. I WAS ON A TEAM WITH TWO OTHER RRL MEMBERS AND I WAS VERY WORRIED ABOUT NOT LETTING THEM DOWN BECAUSE I KNEW THEIR FITNESS WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN MINE. BUT THEY WERE VERY SUPPORTIVE AND WE ENDED UP COMPLETING THE DAY'S EVENTS IN A RESPECTABLE FASHION. THAT GAVE ME TREMENDOUS CONFIDENCE. ABOUT A MONTH LATER, I RAN MY FIRST 5K RACE AND STILL HAD LINGERING WORRIES ABOUT BEING ABLE TO FINISH IT. I FINISHED IN DECENT TIME AND I HAVEN'T LOOKED BACK SINCE. INCLUDING THE SIX MARATHONS, I'VE RUN OVER 35 RACES SINCE THEN - 5K'S, 8K'S 10K'S, 15K'S, HALF MARATHONS AND OBSTACLE RACES. I'M HAPPY TO SAY THAT I'M AT A POINT NOW WITH ALL THE SHORTER RACES THAT I AM PRETTY MUCH SETTING A NEW PERSONAL RECORD EVERY TIME I RACE.


What was your inspiration?

MY INSPIRATION TO GET OFF THE COUCH WAS MULTI-FACETED. IT REALLY STARTED WITH YOU MAKING THE SIMPLE INVITATION TO JOIN THE RRL. YOU NEVER ONCE MADE ME FEEL UNWORTHY BUT TO THE CONTRARY, YOU CONVINCED ME THAT IF I PUT IN THE TIME, I COULD TRANSFORM MY LIFE. I WAS ALSO INSPIRED BY THE FACT THAT I WANT TO REMAIN VERY ACTIVE AS I AGE. I'M 46 AND HAVE TWO PRE-TEEN DAUGHTERS. I WANT TO BE AROUND FOR THEIR WEDDINGS AND FOR ANY GRANDKIDS THAT COME ALONG. I DON'T WANT TO BE SITTING IN A CHAIR WATCHING TV IN MY 70'S AND 80'S. AT THAT AGE, I STILL WANT TO BE RUNNING, HIKING AND OTHERWISE VERY ACTIVE. BUT IT STARTS NOW. I FEEL LIKE RIGHT NOW EVERYTHING I AM DOING IS LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR MY HEALTH AND FITNESS FOR THE LAST THIRD OF MY LIFE.  AS FOR ONE LAST THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT HAS INSPIRED ME, I LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT I AM GOING THROUGH A MID-LIFE CRISIS BUT CHANNELING THE ANXIETY IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION. INSTEAD OF HAVING AN AFFAIR OR CHANGING CAREERS, I AM FOCUSING ON BECOMING A LEGITIMATE ATHLETE.


It is easy to say you are going to make a change, easy to start working toward a goal, but in your case, you have committed and surpassed your goals only to make new ones, even more aggressive ones.  What do you attribute this to?

I'M A VERY GOAL-ORIENTED PERSON. ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I'M HIGHLY MOTIVATED BY SETTING GOALS AND ACHIEVING THEM. I GET BORED VERY EASILY, SO I MUST HAVE GOALS. I STARTED OUT JUST WANTING TO RUN MY FIRST SHORT RACE, BUT OVER TIME THE GOALS EVOLVED INTO WANTING TO RUN FASTER AND TO RUN LONGER RACES. I WILL KEEP DOING WHAT I'M DOING AS LONG AS I KEEP SETTING GOALS AND ACHIEVING THEM. ON THE FLIP SIDE, IT CAN BE VERY DISCOURAGING TO SET A GOAL AND TO FAIL. LUCKILY, THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED A LOT TO ME YET, BUT WHEN IT DOES HAPPEN, I START QUESTIONING MY TRAINING AND MOTIVATION AND I TRY TO ANALYZE WHAT WENT WRONG. IN MOST CASES, I SIMPLY SET A GOAL THAT WAS NOT REALISTIC.


Tell us why you selected a marathon as your goal originally?

I'VE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED WITH THE MARATHON EVERY SINCE I WAS A KID GROWING UP IN MIAMI. IN 1981, MY MOM TOOK ME TO SEE THE ORANGE BOWL MARATHON. I STILL REMEMBER HOW SURREAL IT WAS GETTING UP BEFORE DAWN AND SEEING ALL THESE PEOPLE LINING UP ON THE STARTING LINE. I ACTUALLY MADE A LITTLE SUPER-8 MOVIE ABOUT THE RACE AND MY MOM DROVE ME AROUND TO DIFFERENT VANTAGE POINTS SO WE COULD TRACK THE PROGRESS OF THE WHOLE RACE. AT ONE POINT WE ACTUALLY DROVE ON THE STREET BEHIND THE LEAD RUNNER'S POLICE ESCORT AND I GOT SHOTS HANGING OUT THE WINDOW! ANYWAY, THAT EXPERIENCE WAS ALWAYS IN THE BACK OF MY MIND AND OVER THE YEARS I THOUGHT ONE DAY IT MIGHT BE COOL TO TRY RUNNING A MARATHON BUT I NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED MYSELF WORTHY. AT ONE POINT IN THE MID-90'S WHEN I WAS LIVING IN LOS ANGELES, A FRIEND OF MINE STARTED TRAINING FOR A MARATHON AND INVITED ME TO GO TO SOME OF HIS SPEED WORKOUTS. I TRIED THAT A FEW TIMES BUT I QUICKLY GOT BORED. AT THAT TIME IN MY LIFE I WAS MUCH MORE INTERESTED IN HIKING AND BACKPACKING OUT IN THE WILDERNESS AND THAT ACTUALLY KEPT ME PRETTY FIT. I DIDN'T REALLY HAVE THE TIME TO DEDICATE TO RUNNING. FLASH FORWARD TWENTY YEARS AND I FELT I WAS FINALLY AT A GOOD POINT IN MY LIFE TO MAKE THE KIND OF TIME INVESTMENT REQUIRED FOR PROPER MARATHON TRAINING. I HAVE TO SAY I DIDN'T SET OUT WITH THE MARATHON AS A GOAL INITIALLY BUT RATHER FOCUSED ON SHORTER RACES. ONE BY ONE, AS I RAN THOSE SHORTER RACES, MY CONFIDENCE AND FITNESS INCREASED TO THE POINT THAT I WAS READY TO TACKLE A MARATHON. THE TURNING POINT WAS MEMORIAL DAY OF LAST YEAR WHEN I COMPLETED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON. I WAS ABLE TO FINISH THAT WITHOUT STOPPING AND THAT GAVE ME THE FINAL MOTIVATION I NEEDED TO FOCUS ON A MARATHON.


What additional training did you do while working toward the first marathon?

LOTS OF CROSS FIT AND DEDICATED OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING TRAINING WITH A LOCAL STRENGTH COACH. ON SATURDAYS, I PARTICIPATED IN GROUP RUNS WITH THE LOCAL TRACK CLUB. THERE'S A GUY THERE, BILL BROCK, WHO HAS BEEN VERY ENCOURAGING. HE ALONG WITH YOU AND STEVE FAUER, MY STRENGTH COACH, HAVE SEVERAL THINGS IN COMMON. YOU ARE ALL NON-JUDGMENTAL AND MATTER-OF-FACT ABOUT WHAT I NEED TO DO TO ACHIEVE MY GOALS. ALSO, YOU ARE ALL GOOD AT JUST GIVING LITTLE NODS OF ENCOURAGEMENT ALONG THE WAY. THAT IS THE KEY FOR ME. JUST TO HAVE SOMEONE TELL YOU 'YES, YOU CAN DO IT' IS GREAT MOTIVATION.  I DON'T KNOW IF I WOULD HAVE EVEN ATTEMPTED THE FIRST MARATHON WITHOUT THE CONTINUING ENCOURAGEMENT OF YOU GUYS AND MY FELLOW ATHLETES. LATELY, I'VE ALSO GOTTEN TO KNOW A LOCAL RETIRED HIGH SCHOOL TRACK COACH, VAN TOWNSEND, AND HE TOO HAS BEEN A GREAT INSPIRATION AS I WORK ON IMPROVING MY TIME AND MY RUNNING FORM. WHEN I GO TO HIS SPEED WORKOUTS, I AM DEFINITELY THE SLOWEST PERSON THERE AND MOST OF THE OTHER RUNNERS ARE HALF MY AGE, BUT VAN DOESN'T TREAT ME ANY DIFFERENTLY. IN HIS EYES, I'M AN ATHLETE WORKING ON A PERSONAL GOAL AND I'M NO LESS IMPORTANT THAN THE FASTER PEOPLE THERE,  AND THAT REALLY MEANS A LOT TO ME.


What are your new fitness goals?

RIGHT NOW I AM VERY FOCUSED ON IMPROVING MY MARATHON TIME. THERE ARE GUYS MUCH OLDER THAN ME RUNNING FASTER MARATHONS, SO I KNOW ITS IN MY REACH TO GET THERE. I ALSO LOVE OBSTACLE RACES. I JUST DID TWO TOUGH MUDDERS ON BACK TO BACK WEEKENDS AND I WANT TO TRY ALL THE OTHER ONES OUT THERE. THOSE ARE APPEALING BECAUSE THEY ARE OBVIOUSLY MUCH MORE ABOUT TOTAL BODY FITNESS AND I DON'T WANT TO BECOME TOO ONE DIMENSIONAL. THE STEREOTYPE OF THE DISTANCE RUNNER IS A VERY THIN, ALMOST SICKLY LOOKING PERSON. I DON'T WANT TO BE THAT AND THAT IS WHY I CONTINUE TO BE RELIGIOUS ABOUT WEIGHT TRAINING. LUCKILY, MY STRENGTH COACH IS CUSTOMIZING MY TRAINING SO THAT I CONTINUE TO GAIN POWER, SPEED AND STRENGTH, BUT I DON'T BULK UP TOO MUCH. I LOVE CROSSFIT TOO AND WANT TO CONTINUE WITH THAT BUT IT HAS BECOME A HUGH CHALLENGE FOR ME TO CONTINUE THAT WITH THE SAME INTENSITY I HAD INITIALLY WHILE ALSO RUNNING HIGH MILEAGE WEEKS. I HAVE LEARNED MORE AND MORE THAT REST AND RECOVERY IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL FOR ME. I USED TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT TAKING A DAY OFF, BUT NOW I AM THE OPPOSITE. I'VE BECOME VERY GOOD AT READING MY BODY AND I JUST KNOW WHEN I NEED TO TAKE A DAY OR TWO OFF.  I COME BACK STRONGER AND BETTER THAN BEFORE WHEN I DO THAT. WHEN I DON'T LISTEN TO MY BODY AND PUSH TOO HARD, I SOMETIMES GET SICK OR REALIZE THAT WHAT I'M DOING IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE AND I'M NOT MAKING ANY PROGRESS.


What advice do you have for someone that is in a similar situation to you before you made the transition?

LOOK FOR INSPIRATION AND LATCH ONTO IT. IF IT IS NOT COMING FROM WITHIN, THAN LOOK FOR EXTERNAL INSPIRATION. DO IT FOR YOUR KIDS OR YOUR SPOUSE. KNOW THAT YOUR DAY-TO-DAY QUALITY OF LIFE WILL IMPROVE IMMENSELY IF YOU COMMIT TO FITNESS, NOT TO MENTION THAT YOU WILL GAIN CONFIDENCE. IN AN EVER AND FAST-CHANGING WORLD, CONFIDENCE CAN BE IN SHORT SUPPLY. WE ARE ALL BOMBARDED WITH CHALLENGES IN OUR LIVES AND WE CAN ALL USE ALL THE SELF-CONFIDENCE WE CAN MUSTER TO GET THROUGH THE DAY-TO-DAY GRIND.

ALSO, JUST MAKING A COMMITMENT TO A PARTICULAR RACE IS A GREAT MOTIVATOR. ONCE I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO RUN MY FIRST 5K, I HAD SOMETHING TO TRAIN FOR THAT WAS CONCRETE. FOR ME, TRAINING FOR THE SAKE OF TRAINING IS VERY HARD. WHEN I'M TRAINING, I WANT TO BE THINKING ABOUT WHAT MY NEXT SPECIFIC GOAL IS. IT COULD BE TO TRY SOMETHING NEW, LIKE A NEW OBSTACLE RACE OR TO IMPROVE MY TIME ON MY NEXT 10K.


What have you learned about gear, shoes, pre and post race diet, training…etc?

I'M STILL LEARNING A LOT ABOUT THESE THINGS AND IT IS CLEAR THAT THERE IS NO CONSENSUS. THERE'S A LOT OF MARKETING HYPE OUT THERE AND IT CAN BE VERY FRUSTRATING TO SORT THROUGH ALL THE BS AND FIND OUT WHAT THE TRUE SCIENCE IS. SO, I READ A TON AND TRY TO ARM MYSELF WITH AS MUCH INFORMATION FROM AS MANY DIFFERENT SOURCES AS POSSIBLE. I'M WEARY OF 'DRINKING THE KOOL-AID' OF ONE PARTICULAR PHILOSOPHY TO THE DETRIMENT OF ALL OTHER OPTIONS. I THINK THERE IS SOMETHING POSITIVE YOU CAN TAKE FROM JUST ABOUT ANY DIET OR TRAINING PHILOSOPHY. RIGHT NOW, MY DIET IS CARB-HEAVY BECAUSE OF ALL THE RUNNING I'M DOING. I REALIZE THAT IS A NO-NO IN SOME CIRCLES, BUT IT WORKS FOR ME AND I'VE MANAGED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS. I'M BIG ON POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY DRINKS WITH CARBS AND PROTEIN. I'VE FOUND THAT WHEN I DON'T DO THAT, I'M DEFINITELY MORE SORE THAN USUAL THE NEXT DAY. PRE-RACE AND DURING RACE NUTRITION IS SOMETHING I'M STILL EXPERIMENTING WITH. I DON'T THINK I'VE FOUND THE BEST STRATEGY FOR ME. I HIT THE WALL HARD EVERY TIME IN MY MARATHON RUNNING, EVEN WHEN TAKING GEL PACKS WHILE RUNNING. I HAVE BEEN TRAINING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH ON PURPOSE, EVEN ON MY LONG RUN DAYS. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS TO TRY TO TRAIN MY BODY TO BE MORE EFFICIENT AT BURNING FAT, BUT NOW I'M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT I NEED TO DO THE LONGER RUNS WITH SOME KIND OF PRE-RUN NUTRITION AS WELL AS NUTRITION DURING THE RUN ITSELF. I'VE RECENTLY READ ON SOME BLOGS THAT THE STOMACH WILL SHUT DOWN IN A LONG RUN TO HELP THE BODY FOCUS ON THE RUN ITSELF, MAKING GEL PACKS USELESS. THIS PROBABLY EXPLAINS WHY THEY HAVEN'T REALLY WORKED FOR ME. BUT SUPPOSEDLY, THAT CAN CHANGE BY TRAINING WITH THE GEL PACKS. SO THAT IS SOMETHING I'M PROBABLY GOING TO EXPERIMENT WITH.  FOR ALL THE RACE DISTANCES, I'VE BEEN MAKING GREAT SPEED GAINS LATELY EXCEPT FOR THE MARATHON BECAUSE OF THE GLYCOGEN DEPLETION PROBLEM.

AS FOR GEAR, I'M RUNNING WITH ZERO DROP ALTRA SHOES. INITIALLY, THEY CAUSED ME A LOT OF ANKLE PAIN, BUT THANKFULLY THAT HAS GRADUALLY SUBSIDED. I WORE OUT THE FIRST PAIR AND AM JUST BREAKING IN A NEW PAIR. THEY ARE DEFINITELY NOT CUSHY SOFT SHOES. YOU DEFINITELY FEEL EVERY POUNDING STEP WHEN YOU RUN IN THEM, BUT I BELIEVE THERE IS A LOT OF SOUNDNESS IN THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE SHOES. AS FOR OTHER RUNNING GEAR,  I WAS WEARING COMPRESSION SHORTS BUT STOPPED DOING THAT IN THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS. I'M NOT SURE WHY, BUT I JUST PREFER RUNNING IN STANDARD RUNNING SHORTS AND I DEFINITELY DON'T THINK MY SPEED HAS SUFFERED.


What injuries, if any, have you encountered?

THANKFULLY NONE AND I ATTRIBUTE THAT MAINLY TO THE STRENGTH TRAINING THAT I HAVE BEEN VERY CONSISTENTLY DOING FOR TWO YEARS. YOU CAN'T BEAT THE FLEXIBILITY AND MUSCLE DENSITY THAT YOU DEVELOP IN A WELL-RUN OLYMPIC STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM. ABOUT SIX MONTHS AGO, I  BRUISED MY SHIN ON A FAILED BOX JUMP DURING A CROSSFIT WORKOUT. I WENT TO THE ER BECAUSE I FEARED THAT I MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN A STRESS FRACTURE. WHEN THEY X-RAYED ME, THE ER DOC TOLD ME THAT HE WAS AMAZED AT MY BONE DENSITY AND THAT HE HAD NEVER SEEN ANYONE MY AGE WITH SUCH STRONG BONES. TO ME, THAT WAS A BIG ENDORSEMENT TO CONTINUE WITH THE WEIGHT TRAINING.

I THINK IT WOULD BE VERY DISCOURAGING IF I GOT HURT. I'VE BEEN SICK A FEW TIMES (USUALLY WHEN I'VE STRAINED MY IMMUNE SYSTEM TO ITS LIMITS BY OVER-DOING IT) AND THAT WAS BAD ENOUGH. THERE'S NOTHING MORE FRUSTRATING FOR ME THAN TO BE CONSTRAINED FROM WORKING OUT FOR LONGER THAN TWO DAYS. WHEN I HAVE TO WAIT A WEEK OR MORE TO RECOVER FROM AN ILLNESS, IT IS AGONY FOR ME.


How did you overcome these injuries?

BOUNCING BACK FROM ILLNESS IS ALWAYS A BUMMER BECAUSE I DEFINITELY LOSE CARDIO FITNESS AND HAVE TO WORK REALLY HARD TO GET IT BACK. NOT SO BAD WITH STRENGTH FITNESS THOUGH.


What advice do you give someone getting ready to run their first marathon?

RUN A TRIAL MARATHON FIRST. IF YOUR GOAL IS A JANUARY MARATHON, RUN ONE IN OCTOBER AS A TEST. I THINK THERE IS A LOT OF VALUE TO DEMYSTIFYING THE MARATHON. THERE IS A LOT OF SPECTACLE WITH ALL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED AND IT CAN REALLY CONTRIBUTE TO PRE-RACE JITTERS. IF YOU DO A TRIAL MARATHON BEFORE YOUR "REAL" ONE, YOU CAN ELIMINATE A LOT OF THOSE QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT WHAT THE RACE WILL BE LIKE.  YOU DON'T HAVE TO FINISH IT. JUST RUN ONE TO SEE HOW YOU DO IN RACE DAY CONDITIONS. IF YOU FINISH IT, SO MUCH THE BETTER. THAT IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT I DID. I HAD THE GOAL OF A JANUARY RACE AND DECIDED ON A WHIM TO RUN ONE IN OCTOBER JUST TO SEE HOW I WAS PROGRESSING IN MY TRAINING. AT THAT POINT, MY LONGEST RUN HAD ONLY BEEN 18 MILES.  I WOULD HAVE BEEN HAPPY TO HAVE RUN AS FAR AS I COULD DURING THE RACE AND DROP OUT, BUT I JUST KEPT GRINDING AWAY AND I WAS ABLE TO FINISH IT. IT WAS A SLOW TIME TO BE SURE, BUT IT GAVE ME A TREMENDOUS CONFIDENCE BOOST, SO MUCH SO THAT I DECIDED TO RUN ANOTHER RACE THE NEXT MONTH AND IN THAT ONE, I WAS ABLE TO IMPROVE MY TIME BY TEN MINUTES. THE THIRD ONE I RAN WAS THE "REAL" ONE I HAD BEEN TRAINING FOR ALL ALONG AND I WAS ABLE TO IMPROVE MY TIME BY ANOTHER 30 MINUTES! SO, IT WAS DEFINITELY NOT A CONVENTIONAL MARATHON TRAINING STRATEGY, BUT FOR ME, IT WORKED.


Have you done any other events recently?
What did you think about it?


I JUST FINISHED TWO TOUGH MUDDERS IN EIGHT DAYS - NOT SOMETHING I RECOMMEND FOR ANYONE. I'M REALLY SORE RIGHT NOW AND HAVE SCRAPES AND BRUISERS EVERYWHERE, BUT IT WAS FUN AND CRAZY. THE RUNNING PART OF THE MUDDER IS PROBABLY THE EASIEST THING FOR ME OBVIOUSLY - ITS TEN MILES. THE BIGGER CHALLENGE WERE THE THINGS THAT REQUIRE UPPER BODY STRENGTH - THE MONKEY BARS, THE WALL CLIMBS, HAND WALKS, ETC. I WAS ABLE TO CONQUER EVERY OBSTACLE HOWEVER, THANKS AGAIN TO MY CONTINUING OLYMPIC STRENGTH TRAINING. TWO YEARS AGO, I NEVER COULD HAVE ATTEMPTED ANYTHING LIKE A TOUGH MUDDER.  NOW HONESTLY, IT WASN'T THAT PHYSICALLY CHALLENGING - MORE OF A MENTAL CHALLENGE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. WHEN YOU HAVE TO DO OBSTACLES CALLED "THE ARCTIC ENEMA," "ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY," AND "FIRE IN YOUR HOLE," IT CAN BE A LITTLE INTIMIDATING. BUT IN RETROSPECT, NO OFFENSE TO MUDDERS OUT THERE, A MARATHON IS A LOT HARDER.


What are you training for now?

AFTER I REST A FEW DAYS, I'LL GET BACK INTO THE GRIND OF MY TWENTY WEEK MARATHON TRAINING PROGRAM THAT I'M CURRENTLY DOING. MY NEXT MARATHON WILL BE IN OCTOBER AND I HAVE A SPECIFIC TIME GOAL. BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, I'M GOING TO CONTINUE TO RUN AS MANY SHORTER RACES I CAN. I'LL PROBABLY END UP RUNNING 3-4 5K'S, A COUPLE OF 10K'S, MAYBE ONE HALF AND AN OBSTACLE RACE.


Thanks Dave!  Great story!

Goruck Selection? SealFit Kokoro?

I received this email today and thought that others might have the same question



Tom:
 
Love your website, check it every day and incorporate a part of your daily wod to add to my daily wod each morning. What is the “Selection” that you keep referencing? I am 43 and will 44 in September, I am wrestling mentally with attempting the Sealfit 20X challenge in September. Haven’t signed up for it yet but am moving closer every day. What is your experience with it?
 
Layne


and his follow up:

Thanks, and yes. On the other issue, I have been doing crossfit for over a year, am respectable in my performance at the box (not going to become master qualified at this point) but want to push myself a bit. Is the 20X challenge that opportunity? Have you completed it or Kokoro?
 
LCJ


 My son, Turner 16, during his SealFit 20x

My son, Turner 16, during his SealFit 20x

SealFit Kokoro?  SealFit 20x?  Goruck Selection?  Goruck HCL? Death Race? Leadville? Tough Mudder?  Spartan Beast?  What the hell are you talking about?

I guess this world of events that try to kill you may not be in everyone's vocabulary.  I had no idea what any of these things were just over two years ago.  So when I talk about these events on this blog, some people may not know what in the world I am talking about.

Layne's email was a reminder of this and I hope that others who are interested but don't understand something I talk about here will simply send an email.  I will do my best to explain.

As for Layne, he is 44 and doing well in CrossFit but looking for a bigger challenge to celebrate his birthday.  Well, there are some great challenges out there.  Here are some explanations and suggestions of things that are currently on my radar:


 Log PT in the surf at SealFit Kokoro 30

Log PT in the surf at SealFit Kokoro 30

SealFit

SealFit is run by CEO and founder, Mark Divine, former Navy Seal.  He has created an amazing training program that incorporates the 5 mountains of development (Physical, Mental, Emotional, Awareness, Kokoro) and is the finest all around program I have ever seen.  He has a training center in Encinitas, CA and runs academies and events from there as well as in remote locations.

Academies: SealFit offers 3 Academies


SEALFIT Fundamental Academy

This is a 3-day SEALFIT Academy that focuses on the fundamentals of the SEALFIT physical training model and Unbeatable Mind principles. The event is available only as a live-in option at SEALFIT HQ. One can attend as an individual by enrolling in a public event through the SEALFIT.com web site, or you can contact us to customize a private event for your corporate team. There are no physical pre- requisites for this event. Read More

SEALFIT Comprehensive

Not for the faint of heart, the Comprehensive Academy stretches you far beyond your current levels of performance and success. This is deep, immersive training into SEAL philosophy and 20x principle, helping you tap into deep inner power that can forever transform your life. Read More

SEALFIT Immersion

The 3 Week SOF Immersion Academy could be just what you’re looking for. Based on THE original program Coach Divine designed for Special Operations candidates in 2007, it is the longest, most in-depth SEAL program currently offered to civilian trainees.

http://sealfit.com/sealfit-academies/ 


SealFit also trains the mind with Unbeatable Mind

http://sealfit.com/unbeatable-mind-events/

The Unbeatable Mind program is fantastic.  I am an Unbeatable Mind Member and work on it every day.


SealFit also offers 2 signature events

20x is designed to teach you that you are capable of 20x more than you currently believe.  It works...trust me.

http://sealfit.com/sealfit-events/20x-challenge/

Then, there is Kokoro, a 50 hour event.

From Sealfit.com

SEALFIT Kokoro Camp is, quite simply, the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness, modeled after the US Navy SEAL Hell Week. Yes, it is brutal. No, it’s not for everyone. You may not qualify, or make it through the training. Yet, if you’re ready for this challenge… - See more at: http://sealfit.com/sealfit-events/sealfit-kokoro-camp/#sthash.XcmOalkG.dpuf


I am a proud graduate of SealFit Kokoro class 30.  I highly recommend this and all other events SealFIt offers, but I do not suggest that you take Kokoro lightly.  Train for it specifically and plan no less than 4 months on top of your lifetime best physical fitness level to be ready for this.  Repeat...no joke.

Further, I recommend the SealFit program and Unbeatable Mind for everyday training and a way of life.  They are far more than just a challenging event.  Mark Divine and the elite staff can show you how to challenge yourself and grow daily in all 5 areas of focus.


 Our Team in Goruck class 404

Our Team in Goruck class 404

Goruck is an organization founded and run by Green Beret Jason McCarthy.  I love Goruck events!  They have several events that stair-step in difficulty culminating in the ultimate, 48 hour Goruck Selection.

These descriptions come directly from the Goruck.com website


Goruck Light is an introduction to the team-based training found in Special Operations. It is also much less grueling than our original event, the GORUCK Challenge. Your class will consist of up to 30 participants (aka members of your new GORUCK family). One Cadre, an experienced member of Special Operations, will teach leadership as your class overcomes adversity to become a team. Team being a very important word. GORUCK Light is a team event, never a race. 

4-5 Hours, 7-10 Miles
Average Pass Rate: 99%


Goruck Challenge is a team event, never a race. Think of it as a slice of Special Operations training where - from start to finish -- a Special Operations Cadre challenges, teaches, and inspires your small team to do more than you ever thought possible. Leadership is taught and teamwork is demanded on missions spanning the best of your city. The hardest part? Signing up.

8-10 Hours, 15-20 Miles
Average Pass Rate: 94%


The intent of the Goruck Heavy is to build better Americans, 24 hours at a time. Through the GORUCK Heavy, participants learn a different side of themselves from lessons learned from the Cadre. These lessons learned are either from the different backgrounds each Cadre has in their respective military or civilian careers and sharing experiences from overseas conducting kinetic and non-kinetic operations. These lessons learned are then applied in a 24 or more hour class through different events in a practical setting through shared misery, pushing each participant past their perceived mental, physical, and psychological breaking points.

The GORUCK Heavy is designed around six key objectives:

  1. GR Heavy will be the ultimate team event.
  2. Conduct leadership under very stressful conditions.
  3. Theme is built around AMERICA and why we are the greatest country in the world.
  4. This is a GORUCK Selection prep course.
  5. Earn your “individual” patch.
  6. Heighten each participant’s sense of accomplishment.

24+ Hours, 40+ Miles
Average Pass Rate: 50%

Goruck HCL There is not an official page for this but HCL stands for Heavy, Challenge, Light.  Yes, people sign up for all 3 and do them consecutively.  Seem like the hardest thing ever?  Well they have another...


Goruck Selection

48+ Hours. Selection is an individual event. Our Cadre will enforce a standard adopted from our roots in Special Forces Assessment and Selection. Those participants who do not meet the standard at any point will be performance dropped at our discretion. Selection begins with a gear inspection and PT test.

Is This For You?

Probably not. Selection is not for everyone.

48+ Hours, 80+ Miles
Average Pass Rate: < 10%

Here is another 3rd party article about Selection.  http://alldayruckoff.com/training/goruck/selection/


Death Race

(description from the Death Race website)

The Death Race is the ultimate challenge, designed to present you with the unexpected and the completely insane! Nothing else on earth will challenge you like The Death Race, both mentally and physically.

Every Death Race is it’s own uniquely brutal challenge, no two races are alike. The race, created by Ultra athletes Joe Desena and Andy Weinberg, was developed as a way for athletes to test themselves both mentally and physically. The Death Races take place in the unexpectedly challenging terrain of the Green Mountains in and around Pittsfield, Vermont and have lasted over 70 hours. We provide no support. We don’t tell you when it starts. We don’t tell you when it ends. We don’t tell you what it will entail. We want you to fail and encourage you to quit at any time.


As if one Death Race wasn't enough, they now have several to choose from:

Summer

Winter

Team

Mexico


They also have training camps which look fun in some sort of demented way

Training Camp

The Death Race has an affiliation with Spartan Race which offer a difficult but far less intense series of races called Spartan races.  They are obstacle races that range between 3-12 miles.


As you can see there are plenty of challenges out there.  These are, of course, in addition to an ultra marathon, Ironman, Obstacle Races or something like the Western States 100, or worse...the Leadville 100.  If you want a challenge, they are out there...just don't kill yourself.


My take on all of these things

I am all for them if they help you to grow as a person.  Of the events listed, I have only done the SealFit Kokoro camp, Goruck Challenge and am currently a SealFit and Unbeatable Mind member.  The entire philosophy of SeaFit is to grow and to reach new levels of performance both mentally and physically.  It is an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Goruck is also an overwhelmingly positive experience designed to build better Americans and teach you about leadership and team work.  I love these aspects about both Goruck and SealFit.  Selection, however, is a different animal altogether.  It is not a team event and they seem rather proud of the 10% pass rate.  We will see how that one goes.  That is what I am currently training for.

I don't know enough about the others to have an opinion.  I can tell you that I am drawn to the challenge and I think that doing Kokoro, Selection and a Death Race would put me in a pretty elite little group.  I am getting WAY ahead of myself...only 1/3 the way there and Selection is not something that you look past...or really even anything that you look forward to.

I like it that there are goals out there beyond where I am currently and I am sure that there are other events that i don't even know about that are equally as challenging as some of these.  If you know of any, put them in the comments.

So, to answer your question, Layne, I strongly encourage you to do the 20x.  I watched my 16 year old son go through it and it is no joke either.  He was transformed into a man in 12 hours.  The effect was not fleeting, but permanent.  Every 16 year old should be required to do a 20x.  You will grow, you will develop and they will challenge you.  Sign up, make sure you are in shape and can exceed the standards easily and be prepared to give it your absolute best throughout the entire event and you will do just fine. 

Anyone out there preparing for any of these events?  Alumni of any?