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The GoRuck Challenge – Training

20 June 2011 4 Comments
The GoRuck Challenge – Training

In April I participated in my first Tough Mudder (LINK). I have never been one to “participate” in things like this but I have to admit the sense of accomplishment was pretty overwhelming. We also raised $3,000+ for Colon Cancer (LINK) which only added to the experience. Almost immediately afterwards I started looking for the next challenge. Another TM would be fun but 7,000 people completed the TM course (out of 10,000 entrants), I felt maybe I could find something a bit more “exclusive”.

In researching TM I’d heard of the GoRuck Challenge [LINK] – 15-20 MILES. 8-10 HOURS. GOOD LIVIN’.

“Inspired by the most elite training offered to Special Forces soldiers and led by Green Berets, the GORUCK Challenge is a team event and never a race. Challenge cadre build each class into a team through collective conditions of mental and physical exhaustion. Classes are small, camaraderie is high, smiles are plentiful, and teamwork is paramount.

You and your fellow Challenge takers all wear GORUCK backpacks throughout the Challenge. Yes, your bags will be weighted down with bricks, but if the Challenge were easy you wouldn’t sign up. In fact, the greatest hurdle is signing up. We are proud that the pass rate is over 98%.

You won’t know the route but it showcases the best of every city. Think of it as a guided tour. The miles don’t disappear on their own, and 8 to 10 hours can feel like a lifetime. Welcome to our version of good livin’. “

The next event in NYC will be on 9/9 at 19:00 and I’ll be running with a Radio Ruck and 4 bricks. The weekend will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sept 11th and we aim to start and finish at a Brooklyn firehouse so it should be a rare experience. I’ll be running with memories of my friend and co-worker Steve Weinstein who died in Tower 1 whilst working for Marsh and McLennan [LINK]. I only knew Steve a few years but we had some great conversations and he was someone I looked up to and respected a great deal.

After that long lead-in I must now share some notes from my first training run *with bricks* which happened yesterday. I typically will run 6-7 miles two to three times a week as a means of relaxation. I run slow, about 8:30/9mins pace. I’ll visit the gym twice on a good week, sometimes 3 times and sometimes miss it altogether. The past month I’ve been focusing on pushups and chinups. I attempted my first “Murph” WOD last Friday and did not finish. I bonked on the chinups managing only 40 out of a required hundred.

On Sunday I took three bricks from the back yard and taped them together. I then wrapped that in a towel, taped that and threw it in a backpack. I also threw in 32oz of water and weighed the whole ensemble. I was expecting the scale to ring up a big number as this felt really heavy but no, only 20lbs total. So I warmed up w/pushups/chins and squats then I set off.

Within 100 yards I realized this additional weight and the way it is distributed (flopping about on your back) really messes with your gait. I live in a VERY hilly neighborhood so it took me a while to figure out how to run with the pack. I also will normally run with a predominantly fore-foot strike, very little heel. With the backpack I found a heel strike is really almost essential.

After about a mile I was into a rhythm and got over the initial embarrassment of running with a backpack. Let’s face it, you look like a complete maniac running down the road with a 20lbs ruck on your back.

After 2 miles I had to pull over and grab the water out of the pack. I was starting to gas and the water was sloshing like crazy. I carried that for the rest of the way. Not having the water in the pack helped a lot and I got back in a rhythm. The terrain was fairly hilly so this was a tough-ish run even without the pack. It was also 85 degrees so I was feeling the #goodLivin.

After about mile 3 I was into a decent rhythm and tried distracting myself mentally. This worked and for a while I went into a running “trance” and almost forgot about the pack. By this time the pack was starting to cut into my collar bones but I’d expected this and just kept on going. It actually wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. I was feeling good and even de-toured about 1 mile to check out an open house along the way.

I Last 800 feet is a solid 400 foot vertical climb which I have done many times, the pack didn’t effect this as much as I thought it might. Overall about a 6mile run and I survived. It took about 70 minutes. This was hard. Not something I’d do every day. I think I’ll try this every two weeks or so and slowly work up to 4 bricks.

On the plus side my GoRuck class has organized itself on email and Facebook and all seem like really good people who’re really supportive and encouraging so I’m definitely looking forward to September.


  • catherine said:

    You are one tough mudder of a brother. The bricks is a step too far, although I get what you’re trying to do. Go for it. YOu’ll fly through it come September, thats a long way away.
    Me I’m doing intervals up a certain hill near my house. Nothing technical just run like a lunatic to the top of the hill, and jog slowly down it’s very hard but should be effective.

  • Bob Ross said:

    Awesome job! I did my first GoRuck Challenge over Memorial Day in Nashville and loved it. Getting comfortable running with a fully loaded pack is key, however the pace was not as fast as I thought it would be. As they say on the website, Its all mental! My training sounds very similar to yours, I did a ruck run every other week for a total of about 4, along with weighted workouts consisting of lunges, pushups, squat jumps etc.

    Funny you mention the Murph, just started *attempting* that with my ruck a few weeks ago. I break it down to 10 sets of 10 pull ups, 20 pushups, 30 air squats, but have only managed 6 rounds of that! It’s tough!

    Good luck with your Challenge, the NY one will be awesome. I may hit up Savannah in October. Good Livin’!

  • Le Tate said:

    The GoRuck Challenge is a great event. I participated in Nashville along with Bob Ross. I would offer two tips: work on your shoulders as they will get punished as much as the legs and attempt to water proof the bricks as that will save you some weight after you get wet.

    I am hoping to make it to NYC that weekend as well to give a better performance. It will be a great way to comemerate the 10 year anniversary.

  • Aaron said:

    bob do you have a GR1, I am trying to find someone in Nashville with GR1/GR2 to look at in person… to make sure I get the right size pack.

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