Goruck Selection is one of the hardest challenges I have endeavored. At 53 hrs and with little sleep (45min was allowed – I got about 3-5 minutes total), insane amounts of PT, constant running and rucking with wet feet along with the Florida humidity and heat Goruck Selection was both brutally challenging, mentally demanding and yet exhilarating.
It was an incredible experience that changed me in a number of positive ways and I will definitely repeat it at some point. I am proud to be part of the group of 8 that finished- all 7 of my brothers are phenomenal people.
The structure of Selection isn’t really that complicated, and boils down to
- PT test
- Beat down
- Carry heavy shit
- Move distances
- Repeat last 3 randomly
- Long walk
Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
Unlike a Good Livin’ event, cadre are not your friends. Expect more of a military drill sergeant experience. Lots of derogatory comments and stories that reaffirm how much of a pussy you are. This will at times decrease the will to continue unless you are strong of mind. To those that didn’t make it, they are still phenomenal athletes but my understanding was their “quit” came about for one of three reasons.
1. Old injuries. These we highly amplified by the sheer beating your body gets. If you are familiar with a normal GRC welcome party, for example, multiply that by 10. While you ruck with 45lbs a lot of times it will be heavier. Waterlogged and with sand seeping inside over hours of in-surf PT can up the weight significantly.
Also, in your mind know that foot issues that develop along the way do not count as injuries. Every step was agony for me for the last 20-30hrs. I was able to (somehow) to trick my mind that the blisters, jungle foot and maceration were just normal foot soreness from long distance walking. This and changing my gait by shuffling or running slightly differently helped get me through – and fortunately for me didn’t cause other injuries in the hip or knees.
2. Hydration. The heat at 000 was brutal. We ran out of water twice. Prepare for that. I never had an issue with hydration (even when I was out of water for an hour or so) due to my hydration strategy and October on FL isn’t as bad as July, but its still worth keeping on top of.
3. The mind-fuck. If you are not 100% excited to get started, have bad things going on elsewhere in life causing general unhappiness then you won’t make it. Compartmentalize as best you can and show up completely mentally prepared and you won’t suffer problems. Picture only the now. The past and the future are in your imagination only.
Here are my notes on what I think are most useful for surviving Goruck Selection.
These are in order of priority.
#1. Organize your shit
Use 3-4 dry bags (double layered when you absolutely need the items to remain dry). Put food and medicine (medicine in a separate ziploc) in one. Put dry socks in another. Put extra clothes in a 3rd. Put spare shoes, tevas in a 4th.
When packing the GORUCK GR2 (for example), put the least required dry bags in the bottom of the ruck (spare clothes for example). If it helps you, buy different colors or label them clearly with a Sharpie. Time is critical, breaks are rare and short.
Buy Nalgene holders that attach to the side MOLLE. These can easily be extracted on the move by your battle buddy for additional hydration.
#2. Prioritize breaks
In order of importance are
- fix your feet
- refill hydration
- eat (if allowed)
Be quick with your foot care. Rapidly take off one shoe and sock only. Thoroughly wring out sock. If you sense enough time apply foot powder – keep handy for brevity. If you have a blister, use a lancing needle to drain it. The foot care kit from GORUCK is ideal here. Take out insole, squeeze and drain shoe, replace inside and put on sock and shoe. Socks will get repeatedly wet, so changing them will make little difference overall.
If you are told to move out, don’t worry about the other foot. Take care of it first next time. If time repeat with other foot immediately and again quickly.
For the most part you will probably not be allowed food, so don’t expect that eating is an option. If you are given a chance, make sure you pack something that is low glycemic, STUFFED with calories, and high in fat with plenty of electrolytes (salt) too. My food of choice will likely be a wrap with a hefty chunk of coconut oil, almond butter and chia seeds. This will provide long term sustained energy, rather than a rush of sugars.
Grab your food and start eating slowly. Small bites are better than gulping down food too quickly.
#3. Take care of your feet.
I could go into detail here, but its best instead that you read my post targeted on foot care.
#4. Have a good hydration and energy policy
You aren’t allowed to embellish your water with sugars, chia or other products. Thats good, because over time they can cause nausea, increase dehydration and cause digestion issues. Additionally I recommend doing your training with minimal sugars and calories. You want to train your body to quickly convert fat stores to energy. Constantly training with high glycemic food (Gu’s, gels, etc) will be counter-productive there. Become fat adapted (Google that shit)
Being two Nalgenes (especially hot weather selection) in addition to your hydration bladder.
Again, I recommend getting used to a low carb diet to better adapt your body to utilize fat stores more readily in the absence of food calories.
#5. Enjoy the suck
Don’t just embrace it, love it. Laugh at everything thrown at you. Enjoy the pain as a pleasure not a burden. Picture things from the cadre perspective and smile. These mental tricks reduce the pain and the likelihood of thinking of the word “quit”.
There are a lot of other mental tricks you can employ. I highly recommend the book “The Champions Mind” (hardback or Kindle) for some great mental tips that can help you get through something like Selection.
#6. Do NOT overtrain
You don’t want to come into this with injuries. I would stop heavily training 2-4 weeks ahead of time. Go to a physical therapist for any issues you have – fix any potential problems as they WILL amplify. My plan for the last week would be some light running and yoga ONLY.
Its possible you have buildup muscular imbalances over time, or have tightness that should be resolved. Get a quality evaluation and a program to fix this issues as well. Start doing this well ahead of time. Again, you will not avoid pain but you do want to mitigate its chances as much as is possible.
#7. Practice your PT tests
Your PT tests should not be a surprise to you. It is well known that you have 2 minutes to achieve 55 push-ups, then 2 minutes to achieve 65 sit-ups, 40 minutes to run 5 miles (without ruck) and 3.5 hrs to ruck 12 miles (with ruck)
I will make some future posts that give advice on the PT test portion. This should be something you easily complete and frankly is the easiest part of Selection by far. Watch this space.
Above all, GOOD LUCK!