Training Recommendations for Kokoro
In my previous post I gave an overview of Kokoro Camp 25. In this post I’ll review what I did to train and offer some ideas for anyone considering Kokoro.
Personal Fitness Standards
Coach Divine recently updated the fitness standards for Kokoro and they are the following:
- Minimum 50 push ups (40 for women), 50 sit-ups and 50 air squats in 2 minutes each.
- 10 dead hang pullups for men, 6 women
- 1 mile run in boots and utility pants on road in 9:30
- Body Armor (aka Murph) with 20# pack (15# for women): 1 hour and 10 minutes minimum
- 10 mile run in less than 1:20 (recommended)
- 20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours (recommended)
This is me speculating, but I think because of the growing popularity of Kokoro Camp, Coach Divine is putting a renewed emphasis on the basic skills of running, rucking, and body weight PT to make sure attendees have those skills.
One tidbit I’ll reveal. One of the first evolutions we did was the personal fitness test in boots and pants. I passed all the standards (run time was ~8:39…note, this included running with a pack w/o sandbag) but I still got ripped for performance. Lots of the participants did too. The instructors used this as ammunition throughout the camp and I personally got extra ice tub torture because of my numbers. My advice is to train specifically for the PFT and put yourself in a position to absolutely kill it.
Here’s my training broken down into bullet points:
- CrossFit four days per week until three months prior to Kokoro.
- Olympic lifting class with a strength training component twice a week until about two months before Kokoro.
- One SealFit workout on Saturday morning prior to the the normal CrossFit WOD. We’d do both WODs back-to-back, with the express purpose of doing up to three hours of work at a shot.
- Added several runs per week 3 months before Kokoro. I would have added running in earlier but I was recovering from achilles tendonitis.
- Running included a solid stair running workout every Thursday.
- Occasional rucking with weight. I also did the occasional run in boots.
- I did a GoRuck Challenge in May that was helpful for mental preparation and heavy rucking.
- Junior and I experimented with a body weight training plan that was heavy on pushups, situps, and pullups on top of everything else.
My evaluation after thinking about it long and hard was the training worked decently, but needed to be much heavier on the running and rucking. I’ll talk about that more below. Performance-wise, I was no better than mid-pack and closer to lower middle pack. I definitely had some highlights (the Muscle Beach Evolution comes to mind), but I had some lowlights where I totally sucked. I was pretty good at grinder PT and doing zillions of pushups. I was decent on the log PT and beach PT. I was bad on weighted Murph. I was terrible on the ascending on the Palomar hike and awesome on the descents.
The strength gains I made this year were useful for things like pushups, log PT, and sandbag PT, but they also took away some of my foot speed and endurance. I have an endurance training background from years of rowing and running and I think that kicked in on the back half of the camp.
For running, I suggest getting on an intermediate half-marathon training plan where some of the runs are boot runs and the occasional run is a moderate weight ruck. This plan from the Hal Higdon Training website would work fine.
Build your rucking up so you can crank out 4-6 miles easily at a brisk pace. What would be even better is if you can do some rucking on a mountain. If you can squeeze in any ruck hikes between 10 – 20 miles, even if it’s just once or twice, that will give you a tremendous amount of confidence on Palomar.
In addition to a run training plan, I suggest doing CrossFit 2-3 times per week for the strength gains. That will help get your shoulders, hips, and back in the right shape for all the PT. Your shoulders will take a pounding from the log and the shitty ruck sack, but having strong shoulders helps. If you wanted to really step it up, you could do either SealFit WODs or SealgrinderPT workouts instead of CrossFit.
I said this in my earlier post, just doing CrossFit will not get you ready. You want to be a runner and a workhorse. Don’t even think about showing up at US CrossFit without a bunch of running miles under your belt.
If you can run a 7:30 mile in boots, you’ll kick ass at Kokoro Camp.
Your Body Will Do Some Weird Stuff
Consider taking a Saturday and working out all day long, for like 12 hours straight, just to see how your body reacts. Avoid injury, but do work. You want to know how to handle the hydration and nutrition demands for such a long time period. You also want to see if anything weird happens, like muscle cramps in strange places. I had terrible calf cramps in both legs after about five hours and that plagued me for the remainder of the camp. I think it was a combination of electrolyte loss and rucking on sand and it’s something I wish I had known about beforehand, because I think it could have been prevented.
If you have any kind of lingering injury, like a bum shoulder or knee, you can guarantee that injury will re-surface. Get it fixed before you arrive. You want to be 100% healthy rolling into this thing. Fifty straight hours of work will find the chinks in your armor and slay you.
One thing I did well was wearing knee supports on the Palomar hike and the next couple of Evolutions on Sunday. I’ve had knee problems in the past from long hikes to the point where I could barely walk afterwards. Wearing knee supports reduced the pounding and keep me in the game for the rest for the camp.