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.




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



Run 600 @ 2:39

rest 2:00


rest 5:00

Run 300 @ 1:15

Rest 2:00

x 2

Rest 5:00

Run 500 @ 2:09

Rest 2:00


Rest 5 min

Run 200 @ :47

Rest 2 min




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

March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018

Patrick St Charles was in Class 015 of Goruck Selection with me.  We trained with 3 other guys from my garage and another, Jonathan Hurtado, online.  

The first class went pretty well for me.  I made it roughly 19 hours and learned all the lessons I needed from this event.  Jonathan and Patrick did not do as well and the failure in 015 left them both very hungry for another try.  They both ended up in quite a bit different situation in the second attempt.

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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.






30 and 60 days out from SealFit Kokoro

I came across this great video from the guys at SealFit.  All of these guys and ladies are Kokoro graduates and offer some outstanding advice.  If you are considering Kokoro, please watch this video and pay attention to the details.  Below, I will give you what I did and where I think you should be 30 and 60 days out for Kokoro.


I agree with their advice and I can offer a little more from the perspective of an older athlete going into this event.  At 60 days out you should feel pretty confident in everything.  Use the published standards as a guide and then add 30-40 reps on top of the published standard as a minimum guide to progress.  At 60 days out, you should be increasing your weekly mileage of running considerably while avoiding injury.  Every day, you should be training in the boots and pants you will use at the event.  I was doing Opwods 3-4 days a week, running focused work 2 days and rucking one day...long.

30 days out, your gear should be dialed, your feet should be hard and you should be prepared for extreme workloads of 2-3 hour constant workouts. I did the 5 miles/1000 Burpee workout, Triple Murph and lots of other challenges before the event.  You should feel comfortable with a 10 minute, no movement plank and be able to do Murph weighted at any time.

At 30 days out, you should have all the work done that you need to survive the event.  It is important at this time to try to heal up any injuries that you have and show up to the event healthy.  Showing up healthy is of major importance to all athletes, but to the older athlete, like me, showing up compromised is not at all what you want to do.  Show up healthy, strong and plan far enough ahead that you are not in a panic 30 days out, rather you are starting your taper.

Good luck.

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

I started this blog to document my training toward the most difficult event of my life (so far), Goruck Selection 015.  Shortly after posting a few training days, another 015 prospect started leaving a comment or two and posting his training.  I connected with him and through the miracle of the internet became cyber-friends with Jonathan Hurtado.  It turned out that he was just as crazy as we were and we continued to train together or at least tell each other about our training through this blog and email.  Jonathan had done quite a few Goruck events and was training hard for 015.  We met at Selection and ate together before and after our time in 015.

I told Jonathan about my experience and graduation from SealFit Kokoro 30.  He was interested and we have kept in touch since the event.  Jonathan has had some challenges getting to Kokoro, but he finally did it and here is the interview shortly after he returned home.  Enjoy...

TR: Congratulations on being secured in Kokoro 41!  I am so excited to hear how it went for you.  Before we get started, give the readers a little of your background. 

I'm in my late thirties and I've been working as a programmer in the video game industry for about five years.  I live near San Francisco, but I grew up in New Jersey and worked in New York City before moving west.  My journey to endurance events started with a Tough Mudder in 2012.  Always looking to challenge myself, I've since done two more Tough Mudders, several Spartan Races (including a Trifecta), and fifteen GORUCK events, including an HCL (Heavy, Challenge, Light) and a Double Heavy.  I also attempted GORUCK Selection 15 back in 2014.


TR: You and I met through this training blog when we were both preparing for Goruck Selection 15.  We trained together virtually and then finally met in person at the event.

Before Selection, I had completed Kokoro 30 and talked with you about it. I am so excited that you did it.  As I remember, you encountered some difficulty after Selection and while training up for Kokoro.  Tell me about the process.  Was 41 the first camp you trained for or was there another?

I had originally signed up for Kokoro 36 (February 2015) to help me prepare for Selection 17 in Bozeman, MT. However, I did a poor job of creating a sensible training plan, and I overtrained to the point where I tore my calf during a six mile run. The injury derailed my Kokoro and Selection plans for 2015.  I was able to transfer to a later Kokoro class, but 2015 wasn't an option because I needed time for my calf to heal and I was committed to doing the first ever GORUCK Triple Heavy in October. I ultimately ended up transferring to Kokoro 41, which was a year after my original Kokoro class.

TR: So many people in the Goruck community are interested in Kokoro and the same for SealFit people being interested in Goruck events. As one of the few who have done multiple Gorucks and been a part of Selection as well as completing Kokoro, how would you compare/contrast Kokoro from Selection?

Although both events will push your physical and mental limits, they do so in drastically different ways. For GORUCK Selection, the cadre are actively trying to make you quit through brutal smoke sessions and extensive taunting.  You're pretty much alone out there because you are forbidden to interact with the other participants and you cannot talk unless spoken to by the cadre.

In Kokoro, the coaches can be as tough as the Selection cadre (especially during the grinder sessions), but their primary goal is not to make you quit.  They want you to succeed and make it to the end, provided that you give your best effort all the time.  I didn't have to deal with fending off negative energy in Kokoro like I did in Selection.  The other big difference between Kokoro and Selection is that teamwork is actually expected at a Kokoro camp.  There will be times when Kokoro will be very difficult, and you'll either reach out to a teammate and ask for help or assist a teammate if he or she is struggling.  That type of team camaraderie is not allowed in Selection.

TR: How about Kokoro vs other Goruck events that you have done

The big overlap between Kokoro and the GORUCK events that aren't Selection is looking out for the person to your left and right.  Working as a team and caring for one another are some of the most important lessons you can learn from Kokoro and GORUCK.  The big difference between Kokoro and the other GORUCK events is that there's a lot more running in Kokoro and it lasts much longer than most GORUCK events.

TR: How did you train for Kokoro 41?

Training for the GORUCK Triple Heavy (HHH) in October 2015 left me in good shape, but I still needed to work on push-ups, pull-ups, and running for Kokoro.  After recuperating for about a month after the HHH, I started my Kokoro training.  On the advice of another Kokoro finisher, Troy Angrignon, I picked up Stew Smith's Complete Guide to Navy Seal Fitness to get stronger on my push-ups, pull-ups, and runs. I took cold showers to mentally prepare for cold water immersion.  I did sandbag shoulder-to-shoulder presses and 45# plate overhead holds to strengthen my shoulders.  I already had a strong rucking ability due to my Triple Heavy training, so I only rucked once a week.


TR: How did you feel you were prepared?

The push-up and pull-up volume work in Stew Smith's book helped me prepare for the PT and Murph tests.  However, I wish I got the book earlier because I was only able to do eight weeks of training instead of the full twelve.  I regret not running more, specifically doing sprint runs.  My legs were feeling heavy after the first day of Kokoro and I was one of the slowest runners in the class.  I did well in strength tasks such as the log carry and log PT.  I also did fine in the mountain rucks, although I should have done more mountain rucks in my training.

TR: How did the training for Kokoro differ from Selection or other Goruck events?

I did a lot less rucking and a lot more running in my Kokoro training, although I wished I did more sprint runs.  I primarily focused on improving my PST scores.

TR: One of the worst parts of Kokoro 30 for me was getting to SealFit headquarters and waiting around.  I was intimidated, nervous and the waiting was killing me.  Walk me through your morning before the event.  What time did you wake up, did you eat?  How did you prepare that morning?  Give me your recollection of showing up to the event and expectations.,  Tell me about the collection of athletes that showed up for 41.

I slept early the night before so that I could wake up at around 5:40am (start time for the event was 8:00am).  It gave me enough time to check out of my hotel and drive to a nearby Denny's for breakfast.  I ordered a pepper jack steak omelette.  I wanted to give myself enough time to eat breakfast and arrive at the Vail Lake Resort at 7am.  Thank god I did, because I had a brief scare where I showed up at the GPS coordinates from a Kokoro email and the attendant had no idea what Kokoro was.  Turned out that I went to Vail Lake Resort's RV park and the actual Kokoro start location was two miles further down the road.  Despite the slight detour, I still made it to camp early.

I was the second person to arrive and was told by the coaches to wait near a tree.  There were nine of us total in our class, including two GRTs (GORUCK Tough folks who completed a GORUCK event) and three who had signed Navy SEALs contracts.  While we were waiting, we talked about where we were from and why we were doing the event.  The low number of participants made it easy for us to bond quickly.  Six of us would ultimately finish the class.

Waiting for the event to start didn't bother me.  Troy mentioned that it was a deliberate ploy to mess with your head, so I didn't let it stress me.  I anticipated and correctly guessed that we would start with a brief welcome party (boot camp exercises), then have the PST test, and then suffer through a Grinder session.  I didn't have any more expectations besides this, and was determined that I was only going to concentrate on the present and not worry about what was coming next.

TR: What is the one thing you brought to the event that you were really glad you had?

Knee pads that I bought from REI.  They protected my knees during the first day, but I had to take them off for a wardrobe change and never had the opportunity to put them back on later.  My knees were roughed up a bit during the second day, but it wasn't too bad.

TR: What is one thing that you wish you brought?

Better energy bars.  I made the mistake of bringing Hammer Nutrition Chocolate Coconut Almond bars without trying them before the event.  Someone recommended the brand in their Kokoro AAR, so I bought a few in blind faith.    They didn't taste great, and I realized that it's not a good idea to eat chocolate because the energy spike from the chocolate would eventually wear out.  It wasn't catastrophic, but I really should have tried the bars beforehand.  This is what I get for waiting until the week of the event to finalize my nutrition supplies.


TR: What was the most difficult part of Kokoro 41 for you?

Running, specifically the "pays to be a winner" races.  I was okay with running during the first day (even ran about 6:40 during the PST mile run), but those races were taking a toll on me, especially since I wasn't the faster runner in the group.  It was getting harder to run as the event progressed, and I quickly realized that as much as I ran during my Kokoro training, it wasn't enough.

TR: Things were really bad near the end of the event.  I got sick and it was really hard for me to take full breaths.  I wasn't moving as fast as I would have liked, but I knew I was close to the end of the event, so I was determined to continue no matter what.

TR: What did you think you were most prepared for and why?

Anything that involved strength, so the log carries and the log PT.  I was already in good shape from the Triple Heavy, so the Kokoro training just built on top of that base strength.  The first mountain ruck went well because of my extensive ruck training.  The second mountain ruck was a little harder because of the steeper elevation change.  I wished I had done a few more mountain rucks to mitigate that.  I also was running on empty at one point during the second ruck, but I started feeling better after we took a break and I ate an MRE.

TR: What lessons will you take back to your everyday life from Kokoro 41?

With the right team and the right attitude, you can accomplish just about anything.  Finishing Kokoro proved that, and I'll be carrying that for the rest of my life.  There was also an exercise in Kokoro that helped me address several negative emotions that have been hiding in my mind for a long time.  I didn't know how to deal with them, and being able to finally let them go is an amazing feeling.  Furthermore, most things in life don't seem so hard anymore after enduring Kokoro.  That's an awesome confidence builder.


TR: Would you recommend Kokoro to the Goruck community?  

Kokoro is very expensive, but I felt I got my money's worth from the experience. I would definitely recommend it to the GORUCK community, with the caveat that you really need to have a strong reason for doing the event.  When Kokoro gets really hard, whether you succeed or fail will depend on how good and convincing your "why" is.  If your "why" is weak or selfish, you will not finish.  

TR: What type of athlete do you feel is ready for Kokoro?

You must exceed the minimum standards of Kokoro's initial PST. Be strong in the ability to crank out push-ups and pull-ups (especially when you are tired), as that will help you in Murph.

You must be able to finish Murph in under 70 minutes AFTER you do a workout that smokes you.  Doing Murph after 24 hours is a lot different than doing it fresh.

You need a good running base because you'll be doing a lot of running.  Be great at suicide sprints (especially on sand) because it pays to be a winner.

Do several mountain rucks (no more than 12 miles) so that you are used to rucking with elevation change.

Being able to do proper overhead squats will help immensely.

Doing a GORUCK Heavy or an HTL will help you deal with endurance and sleep deprivation, but it is not required.  Most of the guys who finished Kokoro with me never did a GORUCK event.

Be mentally tough. The above steps will get you physically prepared, but your mind also has to be strong enough to resist the urge to quit when things get tough.  Mental toughness is a skill you can learn, and books like Mark Devine's Unbeatable Mind provide those lessons.

TR: Can you give us a brief description of the workload in Kokoro?

You have Grinder sessions (fast-paced boot camp exercises), running, mountain rucking, log carries, log PT, beach PT, and surf torture.  There's other stuff in Kokoro, but those are the main things you'll encounter during camp.

TR: How did this compare to the workload of Selection?

I can only talk about the first hour of Selection's Welcome Party as that as far as I got in Selection 15.  I remember it being the most intense thing I have ever done.  Kokoro's Grinder sessions were very difficult, but its intensity wasn't as brutal as Selection's.  The attitude from the Selection cadre is different from the Kokoro coaches, so that probably played into my perception of Selection's workload.

TR: What is next for you?

I've signed up for several GORUCK events and I'll be leading a team to run their first Spartan Sprint.  I'll also be doing the GORUCK Triple Light in August, and then attempt once again to finish the GORUCK Triple Heavy in late September.  I'll be taking a big break after that one.

TR: Man, thanks so much for talking to me about this event. Kokoro 30 was one of the most powerful, meaningful moments of my life.  I have heard so many Kokoro graduates say that they have thought about the event every single day since graduating.  I cant say that I have thought about it every day, but certainly every week.  It made me mentally and physically tougher and I brought back many lessons to my life and I have become a better person because of it.  I am so glad that you enjoyed your experience.  Welcome to the Kokoro family!  Hooyah!


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


 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

Quote of the day

Why do we train so hard, every day?


Mark Divine writes about this often as it is an integral part of the SealFit philosophy:


Humans need their bodies to operate at peak capacity. It affects everything else in our lives. When we are physically strong, we are “healthy” inside, we are mentally alert and more connected spiritually. In essence we are happier people and more useful to others. We are productive and don’t expect to be taken care of. We contribute more than we take. We serve and love. Everyone seeks this at some level, but most are held down by a system that encourages and rewards mediocrity. Disciplined physical training can set us free from this downward spiral. We don’t need to be an elite athlete or Navy SEAL. No we just need the right attitude and to sharpen our sword daily. We must train for life.

Outstanding!  If you dont know the Unbeatable Mind Program, seek it out and find it.  Some of the best stuff I have ever read.

Kokoro Prep

AJ Hickey or 037 doing overhead work in Selection.  037 was one of the most badass people I have ever met in my life.  He was the strongest candidate but was medically dropped as one of only 2 remaining.  037 suffered serious kidney issues but has since recovered.

AJ Hickey or 037 doing overhead work in Selection.  037 was one of the most badass people I have ever met in my life.  He was the strongest candidate but was medically dropped as one of only 2 remaining.  037 suffered serious kidney issues but has since recovered.

Matt Lawson is headed to Kokoro in Oct so I thought I would design a little prep workout for him today.  One of the worst things I encountered in both Selection and Kokoro were overhead ruck or sandbag holds. They are tough and can break you when simply standing with the bag overhead, but they are made far worse when asked to maintain an overhead hold in a deep squat.

Our workout was really very simple but looked more complicated on the board:

Run 400 round 1, 800 round 2, and 400 round 3

After running, Complete:

16 Burpees

8 kettlebell swings at 70 pounds

4 straight bar muscle ups

2 Turkish Getups at 70 pounds

1 double rope climb with no legs (this is a 15 foot climb with one rope in each hand)

x3 rounds

"Rest" exactly 2 minutes between rounds by maintaining a 45 pound sandbag in the overhead position on round 1, in full squat on round 2 and in overhead position on round 3.

Many, including myself, found it to be difficult to maintain the overhead position for the whole 2 minutes so we did an accumulated 2 minute hold, counting only the time the bag was held in an overhead position with arms locked out.

For Matt Lawson, he incurred an additional 10 burpee penalty for every time the bag touched his head.  Ouch.

At one time, I rated workouts in the summer with a sweat index.  I cant remember exactly what the standards were, but a 10 was completely soaking shoes and socks, like we had jumped in a pool and a 1 was a small ring around the collar.  I give this one about a 7.  Pretty good, completely covered, all clothes soaked but shoes and socks not completely drenched and I could not ring out my shirt.

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.

Frogman's Christmas/Frogman's New Year

We have done this workout as both Frogman's Christmas and Frogman's New Year.  I think you can probably find it titled both across the internet, however the workout stays the same.

Frogman's Christmas/Frogman's New Year

100 Dead Hang Pull ups

250 Pushups

500 Situps

Run 3 miles

For time

On Dec 26 2012, we did this same workout and my time was 66 minutes and change.  Today, I completed this in 57:10 which is a great improvement for me.  I credit it to all of the pushups and situps we did to get ready for Goruck Selection.  Despite doing much better, I was still smoked by Rusty Gray (on his anniversary) who ran about 400 m farther than he was supposed to and still beat me by about 45 seconds.

We had a great turnout today with Kim Ray, Matt Greenwell, Kyle Haren, Kevin Distasio, Rusty Gray and even Will Hunt dropped by to drink a beverage while cheering us on.  It is great to have such camaraderie at the garage. 

I am continually impressed that I can write something like this on the board and get zero complaints from any of the guys. They just step up and do it.  This, in turn, makes me step up and do it better than before.

Thank you to everyone who is a part of the RRL. 

SealFit Kokoro Decision

SealFit Kokoro Decision


Looking through the old blog, I came across this post.  Recently, I have received many emails regarding SealFit Kokoro from people who are either considering doing it or are already signed up.  For that reason, I am going to publish this post again on this newer blog.  There is nothing all that special about it except that it captures the excitement and nervousness that I had when I decided to sign up, alone, for SealFit Kokoro. This decision turned out to be an excellent choice for me.

Maybe this post will help others who are struggling with making a choice to challenge themselves. My advice: DO IT!

Originally published in July 2013

SealFit has had my interest for around 3 years. Over that time, I have considered going to the Kokoro camp and also tried to arrange a 20x challenge in Chattanooga for me and all my friends. For lots of reasons and conflicts, I have not been able to make this happen.

On Thursday, I was talking to my wife about our fall break plans. Our 3 children go to 2 different schools and their fall breaks overlap but are not the same. While discussing the plans I noticed that there was also a gap where nothing was scheduled on Oct 26-27. These were the camp dates.

I asked my wife if it would be ok if I went and she said yes, my kids thought it would be cool and all of the sudden I had the green light to go do something that had been a dream of mine.

Excitement, motivation and fear all were experienced at once as I completed the online application and hit the submit button. I was in now, no turning back.

The website has alot of good information. I reviewed the gear list and then the minimum physical standards which are listed here:

“We have published updated Kokoro Camp Standards to help you understand just what you are getting into when you start your training for Kokoro. We don’t want there to be any confusion as to what we are doing here. This is not a “SEAL experience” alone…it is an event unlike any other that will test you to your core. We want to prevent injuries as well as people holding their team back. The work-load at Kokoro camp was described by an Iron Man athlete as “3 back to back Iron Men races, without rest.” Prepare well.

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

50 push ups (40 for women) in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes and 50 air squats in 2 minutes, with 2 minutes rest in between each.
10 dead hang pullups for men, 6 women
1 mile run in boots and utility pants on road in 9:30
Body Armor (aka Murph) with 20# pack (15# for women): 1 hour and 10 minutes minimum
Endurance standards to guide your preparation (not tested for performance, but completion):

10 mile run in less than 1:20
20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours

Two event failure (PFT/Murph) will result in drop from course and refusal to perform any event will be considered a non verbal drop. Note we highly recommend that you ramp up your endurance and stamina training. A standard CrossFit or SOF Prep training regimen will not suffice. You should run a marathon or half Iron Man and spend considerable time rucking with load. Please contact us if you are not clear about the physical demands of this program. Should you fail to meet the standards and are rolled you will receive a certification of attendance, not a Certificate of Graduation with accompanying SEALFIT Black Shirt. You will be invited to train with your new knowledge and come back to challenge Kokoro Camp again in the future.

Black Shirt graduates have the potential to pursue intern positions and the SEALFIT Mastery program, as outlined on our web site.

Good luck! – Coach Divine”

I am capable of all the physical standards at present, but I know I have ALOT of work to do before Oct 26, particularly in the rucking area. I felt as though I did not prepare enough for the Goruck and told myself that I would spend ALOT more time under load preparing for the next event. My running is not up to par either and I need to increase my mileage greatly and be confident running 12-15 miles without problem.

My plan is to continue my morning workouts with the guys 5 days a week, but also throw in additional work in the day of 10 mile rucks, 10 mile runs, lots of plank work, weighted dead hang pullups, sled pulls, hill sprints and lots of walking lunges. I plan to do all of this in boots and tactical pants to break in both and get used to moving in pants and boots.

I signed up through a link of Brad Mcleod’s www.sealgrinderpt.com site which included free coaching from Brad up to the event. I need all the help I can get, so I immediately sent Brad an email to which he responded right away. Brad suggested that I send him my benchmarks and also my time from a 1 mile sled pull.

I will track my training here and on the facebook page, but since I am just now catching up, here is what I have done since making this decision:
Determined that I could do this and got green light from my family

Jerry workout in pants and boots
5×10 pullups deadhang
Reviewed and completed pushup, pullup, squat standards
Made the decision and signed up online

Friday morning
Hotshot 19 workout in pants and boots 39:24
9 mile ruck with 30 pound pack 3:00:00
10 set of 10 weighted pullups
50 pushups in 1 minute x 3

Sled pull 1 mile afap with Rogue Dog Sled and 1 45 pound plate 16:02
3×10 weighted deadhang pullups 30 pounds
3×10 deadhang pullups unweighted
Swimming and breath holding practice with my kids in the pool

Work, Work, More work

Traveling lately and filming the remaining episodes of Saltwater Experience. 

I had 2 of the best days of my fishing and filming career earlier this week as I filmed 2 shows with my boys and one with my daughter.  Doing shows with the kids is the absolute highlight of my year and career.  I love it so much and enjoy spending time with them with or without the cameras.

This time, the weather cooperated and we had outstanding fishing!

Here are some shots from the trip:

Hayden caught this BEAUTIFUL Permit and my BEAUTIFUL wife got a picture of me, Turner, Hayden and Hanna with it!

Hayden caught this BEAUTIFUL Permit and my BEAUTIFUL wife got a picture of me, Turner, Hayden and Hanna with it!

Hanna with her first ever bonefish!!

Hanna with her first ever bonefish!!

We did a snorkel segment on the show.  Hanna and Dad on a beautiful day!

We did a snorkel segment on the show.  Hanna and Dad on a beautiful day!

Turner gets a HUGE Bull Shark

Turner gets a HUGE Bull Shark

Careful!  These guys bite

Careful!  These guys bite

Hayden gets a HUGE Goliath Grouper!

Hayden gets a HUGE Goliath Grouper!

Good thing that Hayden has been lifting weights

Good thing that Hayden has been lifting weights

Then, Redfish and Snook for Turner and Hayden

Then, Redfish and Snook for Turner and Hayden

The ride home with Hayden

The ride home with Hayden

Slick Calm and flying in the Yellowfin 24

Slick Calm and flying in the Yellowfin 24

These will be some of my favorite shows.  We have filmed more than 100 shows now and the ones with my kids are always my favorite.

As for Training:

Since Selection, I have been taking some well deserved rest, however, I cant completely rest.  I have been hitting some of my favorite travel workouts while on the road.

Deck of cards






Row 1000 (There is a rowing machine at Hawks Cay)

50 Thrusters @ 45 lbs

30 Pullups

Magic 50

5 Dumbbell Swings per arm

5 Dumbbell Snatches per arm

10 burpees

x 5 rounds for time

Use a 50 lb dumbbell if you want a great workout.  I did this one today in 6:57

LSD Run.  5 miles

Train hard, work hard, enjoy life.

Setting goals

One of the major things that I learned by doing Goruck Selection is to be very careful in how and where you set your goals.

When I first began to prepare for Selection, I set a goal that i wanted to be top 10 in the class.  At 46 years old, being top 10 is outstanding and I felt like that goal stretched me, challenged me and pushed me to train harder than just to have a goal of finishing.

I used Unbeatable Mind techniques of breathing and visualization daily to put me in that top 10.  Through research on forums like Professional Soldier, I set my goals for the PT test at numbers that I thought would get me to the top 10 in the class.  Soon, I began to meet those numbers and even exceed them.  On test day, I set PR’s for both the pushups and sit-ups and was among the top few in the class.  The run went well and I smashed the ruck, well under the time hack and in the top 10.

The goal of top ten seemed out of reach at first.  So far out of reach that I just kind of assumed that if I was top ten, I would easily be able to finish the event because top ten seemed to be an even greater goal.

Where we set our goals is where we end up.  SealFit visualization is very powerful, so powerful that you have to really watch what you set your mind on because you will attain it and it might not be what you really wanted.

As I was alone, in the dark, depleted, cramping and struggling to finish carrying my 60 pound pack and 80 pound sandbag the entire length of the unknown distance, a Cadre walked up to me and quietly started talking.  If he had yelled at me, I probably would have picked up the bag and continued, but this guy was smooth and an expert in mind manipulation.  Instead of yelling, he reassured me, complimented me on making it so far and told me it was fine to stop now before I ended up in the hospital.  This was powerful.

He told me that he recognized that I had trained my ass off, but I just didn't train properly for this event.  He was right.  No food for 18 hours of exercise had me dizzy, lightheaded, cramping and physically at the very bottom of the fuel tank.  I had trained without food, but not to this extent.  I succumbed to the realization and withdrew.

On the walk out he was even nicer.  He told me that I should be extremely proud of myself because...I was top ten in Selection.

BOOM.  I wanted to dig a hole and crawl in it.  At that moment I realized that I had been visualizing and training for exactly where I was and that WAS NOT going to get me to my original goal of finishing this event. I had accomplished my goal exactly, but in doing so I had sabotaged my original goal of finishing.  Your mind is a good soldier…it does what it is told.  No more, no less.  Here I was disappointed because I had reached the exact goal I had set for myself.

Dumbfounded, I sat down in the parking lot and wondered how things might have been different if I had set my goal differently.  Yep, I made it to the top ten, but I still did not accomplish my original goal.

Had I set a goal not to be top ten in the class but to be in the top 10% OF THE FINISHERS, things might have been vastly different.




Those goals don't seem all that different from one another to many people, but they are.  In fact, there are galaxies of difference between the two goals.  One says that success is being top 10.  While a good thing to be, you are still not a finisher.  The other says that first you will be a FINISHER (your original goal) and second, that you will exceed that by crushing the event and ending up finishing AND being in the top 10% .

In many events, or in school, being top ten is good...really good and will probably get you into the college you want to go to or win an age group medal.  In other events, being top 10 may not get you anything at all, except failure.  Selection is an example but other examples may include the Olympic Trials, BUDs, SFAS, The CrossFit Regionals, The Regional wrestling tournament.  Each of these things requires you to be top 3 or to graduate, to move on.  You could accomplish your goal of setting a world record, but if you finish 4th place…you don’t get to go to the Olympics.  Maybe all 4 of you set a world record, but you will not go to the big show, your original goal.

Be careful how you set your goals.  First set goals to absolutely reach the original mission plan- Go to the Olympics, Graduate BUDs, Finish Selection, Make it to the CrossFit Games.  Set a second goal to exceed that first goal- Go to the Olympics and earn a gold medal in the trials and set a new world record in my event, Graduate BUDs and become a SEAL, Make it to the CrossFit Games and win my Region, Finish Selection and be top 10% of the finishers.

Visualization is powerful and if you are not already using it in your training and daily life, I encourage you to research it and use visualization techniques to reach your goals in fitness, business or life in general.  If you need a source, try www.SealFit.com.

Just be careful where you set your goals because you will probably achieve them and it may not be what you originally wanted.

So many people experience failure but never realize that they are only doing so because they are setting goals improperly…just like I did.  Be specific, be exact and make sure that those goals match the end result that you want.

Rest and recovery

Huge amounts of calories have been consumed and lots of stretching.  I am feeling pretty good and have returned to normal hydration levels.

After Kokoro I was back in the gym right away.  I think I am going to take about a week off this time and return to some slow movements...slowly.

My right ankle is jacked up a bit so I am working on mobility there, hips, and lower back for now.

Tons of yoga and water while working to build a stronger team with my wife, first and foremost, Children, my business and friends.

Thank you to SO MANY people who have text, emailed, called or otherwise wished me the best.  I appreciate your support.

Lessons Learned-Goruck Selection 015 AAR

Lessons Learned-Goruck Selection 015 AAR

Today is Saturday, Oct 11 and it is the morning after Goruck Selection 015.

Out of 278 people who signed up, 162 RSVP'd to show up...out of those, only 82 actually did show up.  There are various reasons for that, namely that the training for an event like this is really hard and injuries do happen.  (Out of our group of 5, only 2 of us showed up injury free to the start) ...

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Taper continued

The weekend was dedicated to rest.  I did almost nothing physical and took a few naps.

I dont feel as good as if I had worked out hard all weekend but I am hoping that it will pay off.

This morning:

2 min pushups- 75 moved slow and deliberate intentionally

2 min situps- 71 moved about as fast as I could, but that is a long way from the 82 I hit last week.  Not sure why that happened today, but I still feel confident in the ability to hit 65 any time

1 mile hill ruck with 60 lbs- 9:44 felt good.  The hill is steep so I was not able to run the whole thing, but did finish pretty quickly.



KB Swing @53 lbs

I bowed out of this one and stretched instead.  Trevor finished this in 3:21.  Pretty strong!

12 minute visualization on Selection

Good day

McCallie Baylor

We have one of the biggest rivalries in High School sports in my hometown.  McCallie, the school I went to, and Baylor the rival have been bitter rivals for 100 years (I don't really know how long but a long time).

McCallie is an all boys school, 6-12, that is an outstanding school.  Baylor, also an outstanding school, is a former all boys school that went Co-Ed about the time I graduated.  I think that the Co-ed change may have actually made the rivalry more intense because instead of splitting the all girls school also in the area, they kind of became a sister school to McCallie.  Now it is really, McCallie/GPS vs Baylor.

To make things more intense this year, both schools have exceptional teams.  In fact, McCallie just defeated 4 time State Champs, Ensworth (Nashville) 62-34 last weekend to become the number 1 ranked team in Tennessee.  Baylor, also on a roll is number 2.  This is the first time in history that McCallie/Baylor is a 1 v 2 matchup.

Things go crazy this week...literally.  Signs are hanging all over, vandalism of said signs and even campuses also exists, pranks, and more, but the underlying theme of all of this is that there is tremendous school spirit and both sides are proud to be a part of this history. 

Almost every boy with a pickup truck makes a giant flag from a bed sheet and puts it on the trailer hitch of the truck.  Baylor does it too, but not like McCallie.  Sometimes, the kids make the flag with a giant M from a black bedsheet with a giant blue M.  This year, a highly concerned resident posted on facebook that she saw a truck with a flag like this and thought is was a splinter cell of ISIS.  Now that is funny. 

The rivalry extends to every workplace, talk radio, golf courses, bowling alleys, bars, restaurants and yes...even to the garage.

In our group we have a number of Baylor alumni and parents but maybe a slightly higher number of McCallie alumni and parents.  Today, I put together a workout to polish for Selection and also have some fun. 

With a front from Canada to Mexico on top of us, we experienced heavy rain this morning which was kind of fun.  The workout was:

Run 400 m

55 Pushups

Run 400 m

65 situps

x 3 rounds for time

I felt great!  No ruck, no boots, no pants.  I flew through the runs and made sure my nose was to the floor on the pushups and that my situps were solid.  We took the top 3 times for each team and decided a winner. 

This time it was McCallie by a landslide!  Lets hope that the game will have the same outcome. 

Oh, by the way, this thing goes in long streaks of winning or losing.  McCallie had a 10 year run before Baylor beat us and then continued their streak for the last 7 years.  This year, the game returns to McCallie for the first time in 25 years or so...needless to say, it is a big, big deal around here. 

Good luck to both teams and I hope that no one is injured.  With such an emotional game, it could go either way.