March 26, 2019

Goruck Challenge Class 449 Event Report — March 9th 2013


Photo Credit: April Palugod Cioni

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).

Challenge Assessment

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’!

Goruck Challenge SF: Nov 3rd, 2012 Class 306 Report



Class 306 after the Challenge. Photo Courtesy of Johan Beisser

It never fails. The days before an event, I start to get nervous.

It starts out simple enough. A few checks on my equipment, maybe review the course a 1,000 times or double check my race packet. Whatever it is, it feels like I have to do something to double, triple or quadruple check that I have everything ready. All those checks and balances make me feel better but it can make the people around me mental.

The Goruck Challenge amplified my nervousness because there is no race packet or course map — only a time and a place to show up and get going.

Nerves, War Stories and Free Beer

The best way for me to deal with nerves is to be around other people that are nervous. I know, it sounds kinda crazy but the shared experience of being nervous actually makes me calmer.

It also makes me feel a lot better that 1) I’m not the only one and 2) there are people more nervous than me.

That’s why I really enjoyed the War Stories and Free Beer event before the challenge. It was a great way to not only meet up with the team but to also hear some incredible stories of how war effects our brave solders.

I’m sure some of you may be thinking that telling war stories glorifies war. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t.

These stories are an incredibly powerful testament to the ability of our solders to endure a tremendous amount of physical and mental stress. A soldiers war story punctuates the real human cost of war from those that have experienced it first hand.

Thanks to All Who Serve

I’m extremely thankful that our soldiers put themselves in harms way to protect our country even when they may not agree with why they were sent in the first place. That’s my definition of a true patriot.

To everyone who serves or has served in the military, thanks for enduring the struggles, hardships and sorrows to protect our nations freedom and it’s people. Cheers!

An Unorganized Bunch

Class 306 started out as an unorganized bunch of people most of whom I did not know. Most of the guys I trained with were in class 305.

It’s an amazing site to watch the transformation from rag tag bunch of Gorucktards to a team that can actually perform pretty amazing tasks.

Our Cadre, Chris, was always at the ready with some sharp remark, snarky comment, war story or physical challenge to push our personal and team limits.

The challenges and shared experiences are really what the Goruck Challenge is all about. It’s an imperative that the team gel quickly or the night is going to be miserable.

Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

I think the best advice I got about this sort of event was from my friend Dan.

Dan’s an ex-marine who has been to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Dan’s advice was simple — you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

All of the games we played during the night were meant to put us in stressful situations where the dynamics are always changes, there is no rhythm, you don’t know where you are going and the physical challenges just makes it that much harder to concentrate.

It was this notion that whatever is thrown at us, we just have to deal with and get it done is what builds a team. No need to bitch. No need to ask why. Just do what the Cadre says and complete the mission.

When the Switch Flips

There is something strange that happens to people under physical and mental duress. At some point, the switch either flips or it does not (Thanks again Dan for the great metaphor).

What’s the switch?

The switch is when you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s the point where you stop caring how much pain you are in, how uncomfortable you are, how cold it is, why the hell you are doing this or even how heavy the load is. When the switch flips, you and the team are in the zone. You just focus on the task at hand and you don’t worry about anything else.

Getting the switch to flip takes training, dedication and mental toughness. Those that can’t flip the switch are the ones that quit when the going gets tough. Thankfully, everyone in class 306 flipped the switch!

Pushing Through to the End

As the day wore on, it’s inevitable that I was thinking about the end. Our trek across the Golden Gate Bride was both the high and low point for me. My shoulders and back really started to hurt while I was leading the charge across the bridge as flag bearer. Frankly, it got kinda emotional as I usually get when runners high sets in or I feel the fatigue start to break me down. I really had to did deep to make it across.

This challenge was a lot different than Vineman where if you wanted to stop and sort yourself out you could. They even have these things called rest stops where nice people give you food and drinks. It’s downright civil :)!

Pushing through to the end came down to wanting it more than letting myself or the team down. Even though everything hurt, the pain was manageable when I got in the right frame of mind and just focused on the task at hand.

Challenge Assessment

Finishing a Goruck challenge combined every single element that I have talked about over the last 6 posts:

  • Adapt to the situation you are in.

  • Consistently put out your best effort

  • Pace yourself and your team to have a sense of urgency but not panic.

  • Confidence in your abilities even when things look bleak.

  • Endure through the suck by not focusing on the pain but rather on the task at hand.

  • Teamwork is the only way to complete the challenge.

Specific things the challenge taught me and I need to work on include:

  • Upper body strength: I have the endurance but my upper body strength is lacking. It’s really time to hit the gym.

  • More quality time with the bricks: The weight of the ruck just sucks. I don’t think it will ever be comfortable but it can be a lot more comfortable if I practice with it more.

  • Practice all the PT: The PT is what kicked my ass the most. PT with the ruck on downright sucks.

  • More practice with a group: The group practices were a lot of fun and really helped me prepare me for the challenge. I need to do that more.

  • Wrap the bricks better: I need to wrap the bricks in a cut up yoga mat like Dave does. I think that will make it a lot easier to load in and adjust if required.

The True Meaning of Good Livin’

It’s kinda crazy to subject yourself to a grueling endurance event but I now totally get why people do it — for the camaraderie.

Most endurance events are based on solo performance. You rarely get to work as a team and feel that esprit de corps that binds people together.

All of us strive for that human connection which is hard to find in our digital age where social media completely “connects us” but only superficially. We tend to spend tons of time on-line but don’t spend a lot of time truly connecting with others. That connection is what a Goruck Challenge provides and no social media platform will even come close.

Thanks to all those guys and gals of class 306 and 305 that endured the struggles, injuries and challenges with me. All of us made it through as a team to become Goruck Tough!

If you missed any of the training posts leading up to the challenge, you can check them out below:

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’!

Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #6 — Teamwork

This week I’m nursing a back injury so training has been light and not as jarring as in the past. No quality time with the ruck like I wanted to but that’s just part of training — eventually you’re going to get hurt and will need to deal with it.

Looking at the NorCal Goruck Facebook page, it looks like several of my gorucktards are nursing injuries as well. Tory even canceled the training session this week because not enough people could go.

Saturday was also such a beautiful day. I really wanted to get out their and get training. The posts by Nick and Gary didn’t help either. Man, those guys kicked some butt and all I’m doing is resting, eating cake and pie and getting fat. Can someone pass me the Cortisone so I can get back in the fight?

The Ties That Bind

This weeks brick is teamwork.

Reading the comments on the NorCal Goruck Facebook page is a cornucopia of insults, training tips, gear recommendations and ribbing that can only be described as a lovingly swift kick in the nuts. It’s amazing how a common cause or event can bond a group of people together — some of whom have never met.

Teamwork will be a vital part of the challenge since it’s going to be you and 29 of your soon to be closest friends that need to navigate whatever challenge is thrown at us. It’s comforting to know that at least some of the guys have done this before and know what to expect. That’s always a vital part of a teams success — having some team members that have been there, done that and can help others get past the mental and physical struggles.

It’s amazing how quickly an esprit de corps can be formed even online. I think it has to do with a common focus and a shared experience, even virtually, that makes it easy to relate and feel part of a tribe.

These tribes, both real and virtual, are an essential part of our human experience.

Injuries Suck

I tweaked my back last week and it’s still giving me problems. I’m not even sure how I did it but it’s annoying as hell. It sneaks up on me sometimes when I least expect it. Hoisting a ruck is agony. The good news, is that it’s getting better.

I have to force myself to rest and that’s hard since I don’t want to lose my fitness. Unfortunately, rest is the only way to recover from injuries. No amount of balms, elixirs, massage, voodoo or pushing through the pain will make an injury get better faster than letting your body rest and heal itself.

This Weeks Assessment

  • It’s been a light week due to injury so all the work outs have been low stress and focused on maintaining my cardo fitness. Lots of swimming and stationary biking.

  • I bought some carabiners for my ruck and they work well as a nice finger hold when carrying it without the straps. I stole that ide from someone but I forgot who.

  • This next week is all about getting better and staying healthy so that I’m ready for the challenge. I’m considering it a taper week.

This post is the sixth in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total). If you missed the first five, you can check them out below:

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’!


Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #5 — Endurance

I’m really starting to hate sand. The stuff is everywhere in my apartment. I can’t vacuum enough to get rid of it all. I’m definitely losing the sand management fight — it’s more like an invasion. Can I get an airstrike over here? Sometimes, I think sand has more endurance than I’ll ever have. Argh!

Another Brick in the Ruck

This weeks brick is endurance.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that I have to talk about endurance. I mean, come on, it’s in the site’s name.

Endurance is all about finishing when finishing seems impossible. This challenge will require a tremendous amount of endurance to finish. It’s going to be one major mental and physical challenge after another.

The best part about a group challenge is that everyone is in it together. That reinforces a esprit de corps that transcends the individual and allows us to endure more than we can alone.

Although endurance, at times, is an individual thing, there is a certain comfort in knowing that each and every one on the team needs to endure just as much as I do. It’s also motivating to know that the team depends on you to pull your own weight.

Went it Alone Today

Today, I got up early and went hiking by myself, with my ruck, up Twin Peaks with a brief stop at Corona Heights for some PT (push-ups mixed with carrying my ruck, strap-less, up and down to the Corona Heights summit).

On the Twin Peaks summit, the fog was blowing so hard that it nearly knocked me over. At one point, it was almost a white out.

This is the most time I have had the weight on my back and it just beats me down. I need to find a way to stop focusing on the pain and put one foot in front of the other. Hills don’t help this feeling at all. Up or down, it doesn’t matter — it all sucks.

This Weeks Assessment

  • I need to spend more quality time with weight on my back. That’s going to be the hardest to endure.

  • I miss the esprit de corps of a group training session. Having others around pushes me to suck it up and get through my physical and mental barriers.

  • Staying healthy and injury free is a priority. I should keep up the intensity but maybe reduce the stress on my joints. I can really feel how the weight is putting stress on them.

This post is the fifth in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total). If you missed the first four, you can check them out below:

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’!


Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #4 — Confidence

Modern civilization owes it’s existence to beer.

Without beer, the pyramids would not have been built, vast oceans would not have been charted and we would still be stuck in the dark ages.

This training session Dan and Jon, two fellow gorucktards (Brilliant name. Someone needs to tell me the story about that), added yet another reason civilization owes a debt to beer — it’s the perfect endurance fuel. Both these guys make the hash house harriers look like teetotalers. 🙂

I’m telling you right now, beer and exercise don’t mix well with me. I have a hard enough time working out hungover (BTW, it’s good practice for endurance events — at least I keep telling myself that).

Dan expounded the health benefits of beer saying that it’s the perfect endurance food. I fact checked him (I could not resist) and he’s actually half right.

One can of beer (%DV) has Riboflavin (5%), Niacin (9%), Vitamin B6 (8%) and Protein (3%). It has zero fat and contains Magnesium (5%), Phosphorus (5%), Potassium (3%) and Sodium (1%).

It’s not a super food like Chia (Fair is fair Robert, I had to check) which in an ounce packs 137 calories (an ounce of beer only contains 12 calories). Weight for weight, Chia is much better but clearly not as much fun or as entertaining as a couple of drunk gorucktards (Someone needs to copyright that).

Confidence Not Cockiness

The next brick is confidence because this training session was a big confidence boost for me. It was grueling and totally different than last week (thanks Esme and Nick for putting us through the paces) but it gave me a better sense of how I handle the different types of stresses that a challenge will put me through.

I’m confidence in that I have a good shot at finishing but not cocky that I can slack off. I still need to put the training in and specifically work on my upper body strength (Jon was doing pull-up’s where he would switch grips after each one, all while drunk. Esme did pull-ups while wearing two rucks. Man, I felt like such a pussy watching them).

Confidence is also important so that I don’t second guess my abilities. This event is so much different than any triathlon or anything I have done before. I can’t get discouraged when I come in last place on those stupid crab crawls. Man, I really hate those things. They should be banned under the Geneva convention as cruel and unusual punishment.

This Weeks Assessment

  • The wet suit rash guard was a stroke of genius. Thanks Troy for the inspiration.

  • Water was not an issue this week. I need to experiment with Dave’s advice on Pedialyte. I’ll look into that this week.

  • My bear crawls were much better but my crabs still suck. I might get some wrist supports like Nick. It should help to stabilize them.

  • I’m glad I have a ruck with a sternum strap and a waist belt. I switched rucks with my battle buddy for the day Jai and you can feel the difference. I was impressed that Jai sprinted to catch the lead guys with my 6 brick ruck.

This post is the forth in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total). If you missed the first three, you can check them out below:

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’!

Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #3 — Pace

I gave in and bought some Merrell Trail Gloves to replace my Teva’s. They’re barefoot style trail running shoes.

I’m glad I did.

The first dip in the ocean, my shoes came untied. With Teva’s, they would have probably come off.

What I did not appreciate till today was that form fitted shoes are a Godsend. They won’t rub as much as Teva’s and will stay nice and snug on my foot. It’s probably also better for sand management.

Take Your Time But Hurry Up

Today’s brick is pace. Pace is an important part of a Goruck and something I need to work on.

As David put it, the young guys will charge ahead and wear out while the older, wiser guys will set a consistent pace. That’s solid advice since I guess I’m one of those old guys — forty-one is the new twenty-one right :)!

The thing about a group challenge is that you can’t get behind the rest of the team. The GRC vet’s were telling us stories about when the team leaves someone behind and it’s no fun. It’s going to be interesting to see how the entire team deals with this.

Today, my pace was slower than the rest and I need to step it up to keep up with the hard chargers. I’ll be working on that more this week (see below).

Sand Management

Every crack, crevasse, orifice, nook, cranny, body opening and piece of clothing was covered with sand. There is sand where I can’t even feel it, see it, shake it off or wash it off.

There is no way you can prevent this. Every time you go in the water, sand will consume you and permeate every square nanometer of your body. Combine that with the salt and you get the perfect sand cement. It’s like the stuff is magnetic and I’m a chuck of Iron.

Managing the sand is going to be a challenge (Hat tip to Troy for the Sand Management line) but thankfully, that the least of my problems.

Things to Work On

This is nothing like an Ironman so I need to adjust my training schedule and spend more time with the ruck on my back. Revelations today include:

  • I suck at the crab and bear crawl thing. Those really, really suck.

  • I drained my water bladder after like 2 hours. Not good at all (I dehydrate easy).

  • Tighter fitting shirt is a must. Maybe I’ll use my wetsuit rash guard.

This post is the third in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total). If you missed them, the updates that are done so far are listed below:

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’!

Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #2 — Consistency

Bubble wrap is not going to work.

Today, I tried filling the bottom of my ruck with bubble wrap to get the bricks (two today) a little higher so that they would not hit my butt when I run.

It worked OK but over time, the bricks start to move down.

When I opened my ruck, the filler bubble wrap was at the top and the bricks were on the bottom (thankfully, I also wrapped the bricks in bubble wrap. That I will probably continue to do).

It looks like I’ll need some sort of solid form core that’s not as malleable (That’s what Leo recommended as well but I wanted to see if I could reduce the weight) to keep everything in place. Sports Basement here I come!

Indigenous Peoples Summer

San Francisco is the oddest place on earth.

It’s not just the fact that I live in the Haight but the weather is the worst in the summer (remember the Mark Twain quote that he really did not say) and fantastic right now (October).

This makes training consistently easy. Let’s hope the weather stays that way.

Another Brick in the Ruck

Today’s brick is consistency. Consistency is important for a whole host of reasons.

I have built up a pretty good base of fitness due to my Ironman training. It’s important to be consistent since you can lose your conditioning pretty quick (in some cases, in as little as three days).

Another important thing to be consistent about is your gear.

I’m a little worried about my gear since I train in Teva Sandals — Men’s Hurricane XLT’s to be precise. I’m not sure that will be the best foot wear for this (not to mention the ridicule. I can already hear it).

The bad thing about switching gear is that you have to get used to it and this takes time.

David Goggins had that problem when he attempted to break the world record in pull-ups.

The reason he had to stop was because he tore a muscle in his wrist. In David’s own words, it was probably due to the pull-up bar he used. It was different than the one he trained with and swayed a lot when he did his pull-ups.

I’m sure David will try again and this time his equipment will be consistent with what he trained with.

I don’t have much time to get consistent in my gear. I guess I’ll see how this weekend’s training goes.

This post is the second in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total).

If you missed the last update, you can check it out here

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’!


Goruck Challenge SF: Training Update #1 — Adapt

Today I learned what “Embrace the suck” is all about.

This morning was my first run with 1) a backpack and 2) One brick (named Adapt, see below). To put that in perspective, I have five more bricks I need to add. Ugh (I don’t think it helped that I had a few too many drinks last night)!

Training for the Goruck Challenge is a lot different than an training for an Ironman. For starters, you have to carry a Goruck containing 6 bricks (plus food and water) everywhere you go. That’s at least 55 pounds.

Carrying a load while running is awkward. I needed to adapt my running style and gate. Even where I put the single brick was important.

At first, I just wrapped it in a plastic bag, taped it up and put it in the bottom of my pack. A brief test showed that it was going to move around too much and hit my back.

The solution I came up with was to wrap it in a towel. That worked much better but it’s not perfect. I think I’ll grab some bubble wrap from work and try that. It will be lighter and provide some more cushioning.

Training Plan

The biggest difference between an Ironman and training for a Goruck is strength. I didn’t do much strength training for my Ironman (read none) but for the Goruck, it’s going to be a lot more physical (e.g. Push-ups, carrying things, etc.). That’s going to require not just cardo but muscle endurance.

I read a great article by Leo Babauta about his Goruck experience and training plan. With that in mind, I came up with mine (which I have been doing for the last 4 weeks):

  • Monday: Swim (Masters workout)

  • Tuesday: Run (5 miles or so)

  • Wednesday: 5 x 5 (5 sets of 5 different exercises)

  • Thursday: Run (5 miles)

  • Friday: Swim (Masters workout)

  • Saturday: Run (Longer 7+ miles)

  • Sunday: 5 x 5 (5 sets of 5 different exercises) or rest

I eliminated the biking because that’s mostly for building up cardo endurance — something I don’t need as much as muscle endurance.

My 5×5’s

There are a lot of 5×5 type workouts to choose from. I wanted one that would challenge my body to adapt to different movements. The exercises that I have been picking from include:

  • Jumping rope

  • Lat pull-downs

  • Bench press

  • Push-ups

  • Cable cross

  • Military press

  • Burpee

  • Pull-ups

  • Bicep curls

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Flutter kicks

The 5×5 is a great overall work out. I typically rest 2 minutes between each 5×5 and try to rapidly go from exercise to exercise without any rest.

This post is the first in the series about my training for the Goruck Challenge on November 3rd 2012 in San Francisco. Each time I add a brick to my pack, I’ll name it and post a training update (there’s 6 total).

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’!


My Next Impossible Goal — A Goruck Challenge

A lot of people have asked me, how do you top finishing an Ironman?

I asked myself that same question and barring signing up for another one (I’m working on that), I decided to try something completely different — a Goruck Challenge!

Good Livin’

I first got turned on to the Goruck Challenge by Joel Runyon over at Impossible HQ.

Basically, a Goruck Challenge is a group endurance event where about 30 of your soon to be closest friends get assigned a mission. Over a 12 hour period, you push your limits of physical and mental endurance to complete it. It’s modeled after special forces training with a Cadre that leads the group.

It’s their idea of Good Livin’.

Pushing Your Limits In a Different Way

The exciting and scary part about a Goruck Challenge is that it’s a group event. I’m mostly used to doing my own thing (triathlon’s are you against you) so this will be the chance to see how I can endure with a group of people that are counting on you to pull your own weight.

Helps You, Helps Them

Part of the attraction of the Goruck Challenge for me is that it pushes you in ways that solo sports just can do. By being a part of a team, you not only have to pull your own weight but you have to help your fellow team mates as well. This esprit de corps has a magic to it that’s hard to explain.

Another great thing about the Goruck Challenge is that they donate a portion of your entrance fee goes to The Green Beret Foundation. These brave soldiers are an essential part of our ability to have a thriving democracy.

Can’t Wait To Get It Done

The Goruck Challenge I signed up for is in San Francisco on Nov 3rd, 2012 at 1:00am. It should be a beautiful night.

One resource I have found particularly helpful in terms of training advice was this post by Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits.

It’s got a lot of great training tips and a suggestion on a minimalist trail shoe (since I run in sandals. Probably not a good idea for the challenge).

To say I’m not just a little freaked out about this would be to lie. I’m downright scared but really excited to give it a go. I’ll post some additional training tips and a challenge report. Wish me luck!

Full Vineman 2012 Race Report

The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.

An Ironman distance triathlon is not exactly combat but that quote reinforces the point that proper training is the best way to complete any goal. That was the secret to me getting across the Vineman finish line — I sweated a lot in training. Another thing that go me through the race was remembering the Endurance Athletes Creed. Endurance athletes are probably the best people on the planet and their encouragement and support is what fueled me to succeed.


I started training seriously for Vineman in January of 2012 (30 weeks before the race). Thankfully, I had a pretty good base to start with so it made getting into the training grove easier. Some of the key aspects of my training plan included:

  • Biked lots of hills: Hills are great for building your leg muscles and endurance. If you don’t have hills in your area, try and build your own by putting your bike or treadmill on an incline.

  • Did lots of bricks: Bricks are doing the tri events back to back. Swim then bike. Bike then run. Swim then run. This is an important part of training because it gets your body used to transitioning between the different events.

  • Practiced eating: I know, this sounds stupid but eating the the 4th tri discipline. You need fuel to keep you going over the 12+ hours you will be racing. I know this sounds even weirder but you will not want to eat or drink during a race. That’s why practice is essential.

  • Made sure to rest: Rest days are essential. They give your body the time to absorb all the training and recover. Usually, one is the norm but if you feel really tired, then two is okay. I rested one day a week (on Mondays).

  • Gradually build up and tapered down: My training plan had a gradual build up and taper down. This gave my body the needed time to adjust to the intensity of training. I’m glad I did not jump right in and hammer it like I wanted too.

  • Didn’t overtrain: Overtraining can be a real problem since it will wear you out before the race. The desire to train harder and harder is tempting but I stuck to my plan and that’s the reason I finished.


I always get nervous the first 15 minutes before a race. I’m not exactly sure why but it gets pretty bad. So bad that I want to blaze a trail to bleed off the nervous energy. Thankfully, I realized this a while back and started to apply the techniques below to ease my nerves and finish strong:

  • Start slow: I decided to warmup into each discipline so that I did not feel the panic of “getting going.”

  • Eat at regular intervals: I tried to eat and drink every 30 minutes on the bike and every rest stop on the run (it was getting kinda hot by then). This proved to be the best thing I did. Fuel and hydration are essential to finishing an Ironman.

  • Take breaks: There is no harm in taking a break to collect yourself. I took several breaks along the course (especially on the bike and the run) to settle myself and prevent bonking.

  • Encourage others: I found that the day went by so much faster when I chatted and encouraged other racers. It just felt so good to help someone succeed.

  • Find Allies: One important aspect of racing is allies that can help you achieve your goals. I found one in Michael whom I met on the run. The importance of allies is that they help you get past the tough spots and you push each other to succeed. Without someone like Michael, the run would have been pure torture.

  • Stop and walk if you have too: My run strategy was walk/run. I would run to the aid stations (about a mile) and then walk through them (and sometimes a little more :)). This allowed me to conserve energy and properly hydrate and fuel.

  • Take supplements: I dehydrate and cramp easy so I have to take supplements to replace essential vitamins and minerals. I use three Hammer supplements: Race Caps Supreme, Anti-fatigue caps and Endurolytes


My recovery started the moment I finished the race. I made sure to stretch, drink plenty of fluids and popped a couple of Ibuprofen for good measure (that stuff is magic!).

The one thing I regret not doing was getting a massage. That’s something I would do next time. What I actually did is listed below:

  • Eat right after the race: This will be a struggle but eat when you finish. I really did not want to suck down a chicken burger but I’m so glad I did. Real food tasted great and gives you the calories you need to rebuild your muscles.

  • Drink plenty of fluids: You can never drink too much after a race. Take as much in as you can and monitor your urine. When it’s clear, you drank enough.

  • Take a couple of days off: I took 3 days off to recover. It was hard to sit idle after such an amazing race but it proved to be what my body needed.

  • Ease back into it: My first workout was an easy swim. It was actually hard to get through but it felt great to stretch out.

  • Plan your next race: The high of finishing an Ironman lasts a while but then you start to crash. Before the crash, take some time to plan your next race. It does not have to be an Ironman but it should be something challenging yet fun. I plan on doing an ultra-marathon or a Goruck.

Lessons Learned

I had a blast racing at Vineman. It was a rush to be a part of so many peoples lives even for a day.

There are several things I learned and would do different. They include:

  • Kick more during the swim: One of the reasons I cramped during the swim was because my legs were cold. The reason they were cold was because I just don’t kick enough (my swim coach yells at me constantly about this). Once I started to kick, my cramp went away.

  • Bring Bandaids: I cut myself setting up T1 and it just never stopped bleeding. I wish I brought a couple of Bandaids to stop the bleeding.

  • Don’t carry so much: I’m a pack mule. I tend to carry all sorts of stuff I don’t need. Extra food, wallet, keys, warmers, etc. I guess I’m just used to biking without support.

  • Lift Weights: I could feel the fatigue and soreness in my joints due to over use. If I would have strengthen my muscles around my joints, I would have felt a lot better.

What’s Next?

I’m looking for my next challenge. Maybe an Ultra-marathon or a Goruck. The most important thing for me is to set another goal. Without such goals, my training is undirected and my motivation wanes. I can even feel myself starting to slip — someone pass me a Gu packet!

Do you have any fitness goals? Feel free to share them in the comments.