May 26, 2017

Conquering Kokoro: The Journey Forward

t-shirts

Kokoro 32 was a life changing event that pushed me and the team to our failure points. Without the help of my team, I would not have made it across the chasm. As with any endurance event, it takes a few days for the lessons to sink it. As I sit in the the Kokoro wing over at Days Inn Encinitas, I can’t help but get emotional as I recall what the last 50+ hours has taught me. Some of those lessons I have attempted to capture below.

Mastery First, Service Second

Coach Divine would stress that it’s important that we develop mastery before we serve others. The reason for this is simple — if you cannot take care of yourself or have the stills to help, then you might not be helping. This may appear selfish but I feel it’s more selfless since it’s important to be prepared to help yourself first and then help others.

Serve Your Team & Your Team Serves You

A recurring theme throughout Kokoro is to be a team player and do what’s right for the team. If you put out for your team, then your team will put out for you. It’s always those that give the most that get the most.

It Can Always Be Worst

There was a few times when I had to tell myself this because I was at the end of my proverbial rope. This mantra is a great way to stop feeling sorry for yourself and focus on the task at hand. Without this mind set, fear, uncertainty and doubt will set in.

Have a Sense of Humor

Humor is a wonderful thing. When used in the right circumstances, it can lift your spirits and the spirits of your team. Finding the humor in a stressful situation also makes the situation that much more tolerable. Humor is also a powerful friend when you are starting to get into a negative mindset.

Stay Focused and Feed the Courage Wolf

Focus is another important aspect that I learned at Kokoro. It’s vital to stay in the moment and not worry about what’s going to happen next. Feeding the courage wolf is another way of saying that you need to maintain a positive attitude even when things might be going south. A positive attitude is difficult in stressful situations. The best thing to do is pause, take a breath and get your head back in the fight.

Thoughts on Kokoro Training & Finishing

In addition to the life lessons above, below are a few thoughts on training and finishing Kokoro based on what worked and what didn’t work for me:

  • Get a Trainer: This was the best thing I did. Brad McLeod over at Seal Grinder PT did a fantastic job formulating a training plan that prepared me for Kokoro.
  • Know Your Why: I cannot stress this enough. Know WHY you want to do Kokoro. Without a solid WHY, you will have a hard time of it.
  • Exceed the Minimums: My biggest training mistake was not shooting to exceed the minimums. I think that my experience would have been more enjoyable if I had.
  • Ruck with Weight: Rucking is a vital part of Kokoro. You can’t just do Crossfit and get through Kokoro. Ruck with weight often.
  • Break In Your Boots: Make sure that your boots fit right and are broken in. My boots were broken in but the fit was not great. That led me to lose my entire left big toenail.
  • Practice Eating Food: Eating is an important part of Kokoro and you must practice eating real food even if you are Paleo. Note that they don’t have Paleo food available.
  • Get Wet & Sandy with Sandbags: I was glad that my GORUCK training has a lot of Cold, Wet and Sandy workouts since you’ll be in the water a lot at Kokoro.
  • Practice Nose Breathing: Coach Divine stressed the practice of nose breathing since it’s the best way to breath. Practice that often because it will help calm you down.
  • Be Present & Smile: Don’t get too ahead of yourself or the evolutions. Remember to smile and enjoy the experience.
  • Bring and Use the Right Equipment: You can never have enough t-shirts or socks. Make sure to change often. I actually brought too much food, which I really did not use. Don’t worry about food — they will feed you plenty.
  • Always Check Your Feet: My biggest mistake was that I did not check my feet often enough. This lead to damaged big toenails on each foot. If I had tightened up my boots more often, I might have prevented my toes from slamming into my shoes on the hike down the hill. Lesson learned.

What’s Next?

I think it’s going to be a while before I subject myself to another beat down as intense as Kokoro. I do want to continue to push myself to get better and my next challenge will be to hit double the Kokoro minimums. I did okay meeting the standards and with some more training, I’m confident I could achieve that goal. It’s vital to continue to push yourself to do better.

If you want to check out some of the photos from Kokoro 32, Bloomberg did a write up.


This post is the final in the series (there are 4 total) about my training and experiences at Kokoro 32 on June 20th – 22nd, 2014. Kokoro Camp is a 48+ hour team endurance event put on by SEALFIT. If you’re interested in taking on the challenge, then you can check it out here.

The first post was Conquering Kokoro: The Courage to Start

The second post was Conquering Kokoro: Front Sight Focus

The third post was Conquering Kokoro: Focus on the Task at Hand