Selection 000: After Action Review (AAR)
Cadre: Lou, Patrick, Jason, Chris Don’t Call Him Donnie He Hates That
Post Author: Mark Webb, one of eight finishers
GORUCK Selection is one of the hardest challenges I have endeavored. At 53 hrs and with little sleep (45min at best- 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. I am proud to be part of the group of 8 that finished- all 7 are phenomenal people.
Unlike a GRC (GORUCK Challenge), 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 at 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.
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 put of water for an hour or so due to my hydration strategy.
3. The mind-f**k. 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.
Here are my notes on what I think are most useful for surviving GORUCK Selection.
These are in order of priority.
#1. Organize your sh!t
Use 3-4 dry bags. 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 GR2, put the least required dry bags in the bottom of the ruck. The food bag should be accessible with only a small unzip at the top of the bag. 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
1- fix your feet
My recommendation is as follows
Take a protein bar (or your low glycemic food of choice) and some electrolyte pills out of food bag and repackage that bag. Don’t eat.
Then quickly take off one shoe and sock. Thoroughly wring out sock. If you sense enough time apply foot powder – keep that with the food bag for brevity. 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 quickly.
Grab food and start eating slowly. Small bites while moving are better than gulping down food too quickly.
#3. Have a good hydration policy
Dont embellish all your water with sugars or other products. Over time they can cause nausea, increase dehydration and cause digestion issues. Camelbak is for plain water only. Instead of Nuun use separate electrolyte capsules. 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. Adding sugar to your drinks does the same thing. You need that energy a lot less than you think.
Being two Nalgenes (especially hot weather selection)
Use one for plain water and another for embellished water. I use Chia seeds – I recommend adding Gatorade etc. Personally I go low glycemic all the way for prolonged energy as mentioned above. Chia seed and water make the best hydration strategy. They absorb 9 times their volume in water and release that slowly into the body. Plain water can flush through too quickly.
(Although not really hydration, I recommend getting used to a low carb diet to better adapt your body to utilize fat stores more readily)
#4. 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. This mental trick reduces the pain and the likelihood of thinking of the word “quit”
#5. 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.