One year ago I attended Kokoro Camp 25 at US CrossFit. I blogged the following posts about it:
I think about the Kokoro experience daily. The tools I’ve gained from the camp I use every day in life and in training. I thought I would write a followup on how the experience has affected me one year later. If you know nothing about Kokoro, it’s a 50-hour military-style camp held at US CrossFit in Encinitas, California, a couple of times a year. The instructors are ex-Navy Seals and the program is designed by Commander Mark Divine.
Last week I did a leg of the Ruck Across America (RAA), the grassroots fundraiser organized by alumni of the GoRuck Challenge. The pack started it’s journey on June 22 in Coronado, went north to Seattle, traveled across the country to Maine, then all the way down the east coast until it finally reached South Florida. By the time it reached me it was very stinky and filled with various knick knacks from around the country. There was a beanie baby reindeer and a bottle of Fireball. Despite the stink, it was a pleasure to carry.
What I liked about the RAA was the chance to spend a day hiking a section of the coast I had never visited. The most I’ve ever hiked in a single day is 20 miles, if you don’t count the GoRuck Challenge as a hike, which you shouldn’t. My crew opted to walk at a brisk pace, about 17′ miles. Leisurely compared to the GRC, but still aggressive enough that it was tiring. I thought the RAA backpack weighed about 20 pounds, but I wasn’t sure. It felt light but it burdens you just enough to wear you out, especially by the end.
Having the right gear and nutrition strategy is critical for success at Kokoro. I’ll review what I did and offer some suggestions.
I bought regular white t-shirts from a drug store for like $10 for a pack. You don’t need anything better than that. You want at least 8 shirts at Kokoro…change your shirt every single chance you get so you’re dry. Having a dry shirt also gives you a little morale boost.
For pants, I rocked ripstop TDU pants from 5.11 Tactical. These pants are frigging awesome and I highly recommend them if you can afford it. They’re comfortable, durable, and performed decently despite not being the ideal pant for working out. They’re chock full of features like having cool pockets-within-pockets and a snug-fitting but flexible waistband that is critical for the amount of movement you’re doing. I only brought two pairs, which worked okay, but I recommend having three pairs.
If Kokoro 25 was the capstone to my sports year–scratch that, the capstone to my athletic career–then Megatransect 2012 aka “Mega X” was the after party. I went up with about 20 of my friends from CrossFire Firebase and we had a spectacularly good time. Traversing the 26 mile course was fun and difficult, every bit as kickass as last year. Having done two Megas, I fully plan on going back in 2013. It’s still that good. Below I’ll tell why.
What I Liked
The way I think about Mega the race, I think of a great fighter who humbles me when I finally show up for the battle. I get a good long beatdown and a tremendous learning experience. It is good to be humbled as an athlete, because it gives you perspective on your physical self. It’s healthy for the spirit. Every climb at Mega is a cathartic experience and every descent is a victory. Simply finishing the race is an accomplishment. If you’re a serious athlete, you have to put yourself through these grand experiences or else you’ll never grow. That’s something I figured out last year and something I’ll continue to schedule yearly as long as I’m healthy. Mega is the perfect grand experience.
It’s kind of useless to describe Kokoro to people who don’t know about things like SealFit or BUD/S or Q-Course. What I usually say is, Kokoro is a military-style adventure event where you work out for 50+ straight hours and it involves team building and mental toughness challenges. The reality is it’s a two-day beatdown that involves finding your Warrior Spirit and pushing yourself to do 20X more than you thought possible. There are a lot of pushups, a lot of rucking, a lot of chaffing, a lot of yelling, no sleep, and it costs nearly $1300 for the privilege of embracing the suck. Coaches are former Navy Seals.
I’ll try to answer the question of why to do Kokoro, or at least why I did it, because it’s a legit question. This will be the first in a 3-part series of posts on Kokoro. I’ll address training and gear in the second and third posts:
I haven’t blogged about this, but my buddy Junior and I have been training for months to participate in Kokoro Camp. The date is finally here…we’re leaving for California tomorrow morning and will be at SealFit HQ by Friday at noon. If you haven’t heard of it, Kokoro Camp is a 50+ hour military-style camp modeled after the infamous BUD/S program that Navy Seals go through. I’m anticipating an extremely high reading on the Suck-o-meter with lots of me getting my ass kicked.
From the SealFit website:
As the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness, an Unbeatable Mind and a warrior’s spirit, the camp is an intense crucible experience modeled off of the famous Navy SEAL Hell Week. The difference is that Kokoro is built to teach through experience, rather than try to make you into a quitter.
In its second year, Beast Mode Battle (BMB) is hosted by CrossFit Militia of Lauderhill, Florida. BMB boasted 334 competitors, making it one of the biggest regional events of the year. As usual, the men’s side of the house was well represented, with 199 male competitors between the Rx, Masters, and Scaled divisions.
The BMB claim-to-fame is a unique format where all events are back-to-back and completed in exactly 60’. I’ll explain below.
The setting was the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. I’ve never competed in a rodeo stadium…scratch that, I’ve never been in a rodeo stadium, so this was a cool experience. There was ample space for spectating and the roof with huge fans made it reasonably cool. The competition floor was packed dirt. The dirt made the shuttle runs, walking lunges and burpees a little more challenging.
I did my third GoRuck Challenge over the weekend, Class 172 in Orlando. Originally I wasn’t going to participate because my left achilles is still jacked up, but I had a handful of friends register and they inspired me to jump in.
The starting point was the amphitheater at Lake Eola, a short walk from my house. One of my favorite parts of the whole deal was limping back home with my pals after it was done and soaking in the glory of the day and bitching about the experience.
I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon about GoRuck. While they’re happening, they completely suck and I swear I’ll never do another one. Shortly afterwards, I remember the event with extreme fondness and the memory of the experience grows and grows. Just a few days later, I’m thinking about when to do the next one. It’s like Inception where you can’t tell reality from the dream. By Thursday, I was telling everyone what a blast it was and everyone should sign up.
I am rapidly approaching the three year anniversary of my relationship with CrossFit. Admittedly, CrossFit has been one of my best girlfriends, except for the part where I don’t get laid and it makes me pass out occasionally. Like with any girlfriend, it has its up and downs. Here are some insights and observations from three years.
* I approach CrossFit as a sport rather than a fitness tool. That’s another way of saying I want to dominate WODs.
* I don’t usually dominate WODs. That’s not an insight, just an observation.
* For the first two years I used CrossFit as a training tool to supplement rowing, my primary sport at the time. CrossFit is superior to all other cross training I’ve done in rowing, including some sophisticated programs at Division I colleges. If I was coaching a crew team right now, I’d replace our land training with CrossFit and a strength training plan wholesale.
I picked up the Reebok Oly Lifters about three weeks ago and have been using them on a daily basis since purchase. I’ve probably clocked 20 workouts in the them, including several of the CrossFit Open WOD’s. These things kick ass. Here’s my review.
The Oly Lifters weigh 13.4 ounces per shoe, which is less than the hiking shoes I own. Yes, they are heavier than a typical pair of Inov-8’s, but they weigh less than every weightlifting shoe on the market. Heel-to-toe drop is a solid 3/4 of an inch. The heel is constructed of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) that feels solid as a rock and completely stable. The shoe from mid-foot through the toebox is flexible and light, which gives you a lot of flexibility for most movements during a WOD. I can comfortably do things like box jumps at any height and drop down from a bar without any problem. No, I wouldn’t run a mile in them, but I can dash from one station to the next without any problems. Rope climbing also works great.