I finished my second Goruck challenge on International Goruck Challenge Day.
Yup, you heard me right, International Goruck Challenge Day.
The Board of Supervisors in the City and County of San Francisco declared March 9th, 2013 (see the picture below) as International Goruck Challenge Day.
What a fitting day to do my second challenge!
A Twisted Way to Start
Our night of Good Livin’ kicked off on Lombard and Hyde with Cadre Beaux and Cadre Michael. For those of you who don’t know where that is, you can click here.
Lombard is the famed “Crookedest Street in the World”. Thankfully, we did not have to bear crawl down it or anything like that. I think they picked it for the fantastic views or maybe just to mess with our minds.
Welcome to Embracing the Suck Again
I don’t think I’ll ever get comfortable with the Goruck welcoming PT. It’s a shock to the system that you hope to get used to but never seems to feel right with.
Cadre Michel (Bravo team) put us through the paces with some truly miserable PT. Push-ups, bodybuilders, jumping jack and squats (and a bunch I choose to forget). Of course, this is all done in mid-shin deep San Francisco Bay water (aquatic park to be precise).
The welcome party is a gut check.
It gets the blood flowing and breaks down any illusion that this is going to be easy.
A Goruck Challenge is never easy and I don’t think they will get any easier. Even the additional training I did (mostly running, weights, rucking and some crossfit) does not fully prepare you for the challenge of doing all those things with 6 bricks on your back.
Even training with weight does not fully prepare you for what might happen. Sure, it helps but after two challenges, you really can’t predict what kind of PT you will be doing except for maybe push-ups and flutter kicks in cold, sandy water.
Sage Advice From Lieutenant Dan
I’m sure most of your remember the movie Forrest Gump. If not, definitely go check it out.
Lieutenant Dan’s advice to Forrest and Bubba rings true for any challenge — Take Care of Your Feet.
Anytime you have the chance to put dry socks on, remove sand, massage them or just let them dry out, do it. Your feet (along with other body parts) will take a beating but sore feet is just miserable and will make embracing the suck a lot harder.
My friend Dan found that out at Selection when he had to drop because his feet were really torn up. If you are having foot problems, let the Cadre or your fellow team mates know. I know that someone will either have extra socks or something that will help you out. Thankfully, mine held up okay but there were times when I was glad I toughen them up.
Some Simple Ways to Toughen Your Feet
Tough feet will make finishing a Goruck challenge a lot easier. My regime is a little bit odd but it works for me.
I’m an avid Roman Style runner (Teva Hurricane XLT is my preferred sandel). I have also done barefoot running (with Vibram’s 5 fingers) and routinely wear minimalist shoes as much as I can (I do my challenges in Merrell Trail Gloves. Doing this helps me toughen my feet so that they can handle the punishment.
Some of the other things I do to strengthen and take care of my feet include:
Proper toe nail care: It’s critical that you take care of your toe nails and make sure they are trimmed and not digging into your other toes. Believe me when I tell you, you don’t want any part of them removed for being ingrown.
Be barefoot as much as possible: Walking barefoot will allow you to toughen your feet but it also helps you understand how you walk.
Compete with what you train with: Always compete with what you train with. Break in new shoes or boots at least a month before you use them. New shoes or boots will be murder on your feet during a challenge.
Figure out your swelling factor: Feet swell during long endurance events. Once they swell, they will tend to rub more on shoes and boots. If you know your swell factor you can get a half size or bigger shoes and use socks to make them fit when not swelled.
Use glove type socks: Glove type socks really help keep your toes from rubbing against each other.
Duct tape works great for blisters: If you do get a blister, try some duct tape to prevent more rubbing.
Pop those blisters: Make sure to pop those blisters when they appear or it will just get worst and worst.
Zen and the Art of Carrying Logs
No Goruck challenge is complete without dealing with some sort of large log. This challenge was no exception.
Cadre Michael initially picked a real massive one that we could not even hoist to hip level. Thankfully, we settled on one that was a little more manageable — albeit still a monster.
Carrying logs is usually the de facto team building experience since a massive piece of wood cannot ever be lifted individually — it takes a coordinated team effort.
One thing that’s always challenging about log carrying is that the shape makes a huge difference. Odd shaped logs, with branches, curves, breaks and the like, pose an interesting dilemma – where to position people.
Team Bravo’s log had a fat end, a dip, several branches and was waterlogged. That made it just miserable to carry and to figure out positioning. Several attempts at “thinking about it” just led to failure after failure after failure.
With logs, the best method seems to be to just do it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t try to make it any easier. Just assess the situation and go for it.
Of course, this is easier said than done when you are tired and cold but overthinking did not help us one bit.
Another valuable lesson is to coordinate putting the log down. It’s vital to not abandon your log station no matter how much it hurts until the command is given. It’s really dangerous and can injury your fellow teammates. One of our teammates,Nick, got a chunk of log to his head. Thankfully, he was not hurt (he has a pretty hard head).
As I talked about in my last challenge report, upper body strength was my big performance gap. For this challenge, I decided to focus more on Cross-fit style exercises and just long runs since my next event is the Diablo Trails 50k.
It worked out pretty well but I’m still deficient in upper and lower body strength (those 50 bodybuilders in Aquatic park just about broke me).
I’m going to up my weight training and do more cross fit to get make myself stronger. I will say that having more strength did help out a lot
Everyone’s Challenge Will Be Different
When you show up to a challenge, you have no idea who will be there with you. Each and every person that shows up is doing it for one reason or another.
What’s clear is that everyone that does show up wants to learn something about themselves.
A Goruck Challenge is going to push you beyond what you think you can endure. Even if you never carry a log, you will have to carry someone elses ruck, the team weight, maybe food or literally someone (usually a sniper or Zombie causality).
What’s fascinating about the types of people that show up is that they bring with them skills that they don’t know they have. Team leadership, endurance, encouraging others, navigation or just a positive attitude. Whatever it is, everyone’s challenge will be different and unique.
Everyone in class 449 made it and their unique experience will follow them forever. Congratulations Class 449!
If you are interested in doing your own Goruck Challenge, check out the site here. Ten dollars from the entry fee goes to The Green Beret Foundation to help our wounded, ill and injured special forces soldiers. Here’s to Good Livin’!