It’s pretty obvious by now that I am hooked on endurance challenges. Something about the pain and suffering seems to awaken something inside the soul every time. It also clears the mind from all the bullshit too.
It is almost a year since my first Goruck Challenge. Originally intended as a way of training for the Death Race, these have taken over my leisure time in a way I couldn’t expect. As part of the prep for the Death Race, I recognized that a single 12 hour-ish event wasn’t enough so for St Patrick’s day last year I did my first back to back challenge.
At the time this had only been completed by a few others. The idea is you do the 1am challenge on a Saturday morning and then go back out again at 10pm for a second challenge. If you have done a single challenge you will know how sore, tired, chafed, inflamed you can be. Going right out again for a second isn’t nothing especially when it is important to put out fully. You can’t sandbag a back to back and complete it with pride. So for each half of a back to back you have to give it your all.
The hardest part of doing the second challenge is showing up, but there are ways you can make it easier. You may be stiff or sore, but once you are an hour or so into it you will have loosened up. Just trust that will happen, suck up the pain and you will be good to go. The welcome party will be tough. Much tougher than the first time around, so again suck up the pain and give it your all.
This past weekend I completed my 4th back-to-back challenge. It was supposed to be my 5th but for NYC my feet were in bad enough shape from blisters and maceration that I knew I’d have dragged the team back for the second challenge and therefore decided (selflessly of course) to go drinking with my GRT family instead.
The experience of doing multiple back-to-back challenges has given me the following tools to make the transition into the second challenge go more smoothly.
- After the first challenge, join the class for a beer or two and REAL food. I usually go for a tuna/swordfish steak, vegetables and sweet potato. Do not carb up on junk – your body is craving fuel, give it what it needs. Low glycemic index is the goal. The beer will help with recovery and also to nap. Don’t forget though to have plenty of water as well.
- Get a nap. Two to three hours is probably all you will get and it is plenty.
- An hour or two before the second challenge, have another meal of real food. Here I usually get a sandwich. Panera is always a good choice, but again try to concentrate on quality. Wheat bread and fresh ingredients. You don’t want to be too full though so don’t eat TOO much. Again, drink plenty of water.
- An hour before the second challenge take an 800mg of ibuprofen. This isn’t really necessary unless you have injuries that are playing up, but I find it makes the stiffness go away enough to actually enjoy the welcome party a little more.
- Show up with a smile and the right attitude.
That’s it. Treat your hydration and nutrition properly and have a “always give 100%” attitude and your back to back challenge will be a blast.
On final tip. The longer you are on your feet (especially if wet) the more likely it is to have blisters or maceration. Be really vigilant about foot care. I make sure to tape my trouble spots ahead of time to reduce the change of blister formation and also VERY quickly wring out the socks during the first break after a water evolution to keep them tip top.
Back-to-back challenges are tough but rewarding. If you give it a shot, good luck and let me know how it went.
This closing photo is at the end of my first ever back to back GRC: