April 27, 2017

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’!