I was completely glued to Facebook Live this past weekend, watching the completion of the latest GORUCK Selection event. Have you heard of it? Probably not, so here it is in 20 words or less: GORUCK Selection is a 48-hour endurance event modeled after the US Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course. That was exactly 20 words, I killed it. Want more? GORUCK Selection is a brutal, unforgiving test of your physical and mental stamina. As with many other crazy endurance events, you need to train hard in order to even be in the field of people that can show up, but it’s the shell that you build around your mind that does not let the instructors’ damaging verbal attacks in that will pull you through to the finish line.
Why am I talking about this on our blog today? In about 1 month we have the next installment of the Eastern Shore Affiliate Challenge. A bunch of you have signed up, but many more haven’t, and I understand — competing in CrossFit is not what everyone gets excited about. But everyone does get excited about something. And I’m talking about fitness — get your mind out of the gutter, people! Whatever your dream fitness accomplishment looks like, this blog is for you.
There were 36 guys and girls that started GORUCK Selection this year (they do it annually), and one finished. A dude named Alex. Alex was obviously physically prepared, but so was everyone else that eventually quit. So what was the edge that he had that made him the cream of the crop? During the event, there was a clue. As I mentioned, this event was being broadcast on Facebook Live, so they would check in with the competitors every once in a while and ask how they were doing. We would hear, “My legs really hurt,” and “it’s so hot” a lot – the event was held in Jacksonville, FL. But when Alex got in front of the camera, he was very stoic and would simply say, “mentally, I’m a 10 out of 10.” We all knew that he was hurting, as they were rucking with 60 pounds on their back, low-crawling through the mud and sand, carrying and throwing sandbags all over the place, and being harrassed by the cadre of instructors every minute of their event. But he did not show it, and thus the instructors had nothing to work with. Imagine you are a Special Forces veteran instructor, and one candidate says, “I’m really hurting,” and the other says, “I feel fine.” Which guy are you going to focus on to see if they are going to quit?
At the end of the event, once it ended at GORUCK HQ in Jax Beach, they asked Alex his secret. Consistent with his previous man-of-few-words character, he answered, “Pick something, F&@#ing train your ass off, and then WIN.” Super-simple, but yet powerful advice for all of us that are looking to compete and win at something in our future.
As mentioned earlier, some of you already have, with the ESAC. Awesome!! Some of you haven’t yet figured out what you are training for, and this is a crucial first step so I encourage you all to find it. What are you training for? Your CrossFit workouts are going to be that much more motivated and powerful if you can figure that out. Maybe it’s a race, or other event. Maybe it’s a weight-loss goal. Maybe it’s a skill you want to develop, like a Muscle-up, or a lift you want to PR – a 200-lb Clean & Jerk. Whatever it is, you need to pick one thing, and focus on it during every training session.
Train Your Ass Off
If you’re reading this, you’re already coming to the gym and doing CrossFit, and that’s awesome! But we all need to remain focused on that one thing that we are training for, and use it as motivation when the body is tired and sore. Remember why you are coming to the gym, or putting in those miles on the road, and use those training sessions when you really don’t feel like starting to create that mental toughness that you will need when the going gets real tough as you are competing towards your goal.
Once you have picked a goal, this is also the point where you need to identify parts of your life that need to change outside of the gym that will propel you toward that goal. Invariably, that will mean taking a hard look at your diet and committing to some sacrifices that are hard in the short-term, but will pay long-term dividends. Cutting out booze and sugar is a great step. Whenever you want to eat that cookie, bring your focus back to your training and your goal. Do you value that snack more than you value your training? Every good decision you make will strengthen your willpower, and over time you will feel sharp and ready to attack that event.
Create a positive, energizing mantra that can motivate you during tough training sessions or moments of sacrifice. One that I used during my SEALFIT Kokoro training was, “Tough, Focused, Resilient, Impossible to Stop.” On a long training run I would recite that mantra in my head when I felt that tug to stop or slow down. Whatever your mantra is, make sure it is meaningful to you, and get in the habit of bringing it to the forefront of your mind on a regular basis.
Your training is complete, and it’s time to win. If you’ve stuck to your plan, and strengthened your willpower by sacrificing things that you know will not help you, this part is simple, but certainly not easy.
During the event, or your attempt at a big skill or max lift, you need to be aggressive and absolutely focused on that end goal. You have put in the hard work, and now it’s time to perform. Be confident in your preparation and shut out any negative influences, which could include instructors shouting at you or your own negative self-talk. Now it’s time to get it done, and there is nothing that will prevent you from achieving your goal. Use your mantra to remind yourself of your training and that you are not going to stop. And then WIN.
And let’s not forget, WINNING does not mean just finishing or not quitting. During the event, give your absolute best effort during the entire event, and if you are competing against other people, beat them! Your mindset needs to be that they did not train as hard as you, they did not sacrifice like you did, and you showed up to win. So DO IT!
These are three simple steps toward achieving your athletic goal, and although like most things in life that are “simple,” they are not easy. However, if you follow this process, I am confident that you will succeed!