The Long Walk
By Cadre Jerad
Perhaps that’s not the right word, considering you’ve only just made it to the hardest part. Maybe “welcome” is more appropriate. Welcome to the most painful, trying, difficult, devastating, enduring, sweetest, fulfilling walk of your life: The Long Walk.
This event will measure the strength and endurance of the leg, back, shoulder, arms, core, total body, and especially the mind muscles. The time and distance for this event are unknown, but it will end when you complete it or if you fail to meet either of those standards. What you will find at the end is unknown. Do you still wish to continue?
This isn’t a piece on the secrets to passing Selection; that information is already out there, written by those who’ve accomplished the “impossible” and have lived to tell the tale. This isn’t even my advice on overcoming the odds and telling your mind to shut the hell up when it’s been screaming at you for the last 8 hours to stop this nonsense. Instead this is an appeal to those who are willing to listen to all the noise and tune out everything that doesn’t deserve to be heard, and focus on everything that is worth their attention. Before I leave you with a little something that explains what goes on in the mind of a Cadre from time to time, let me offer my own humble advice:
1. Pay attention to everything, all the time. You never know what to expect or when to expect it. Whether it’s your body, the weather, or the path in front of you, you must learn to focus on the small things if you hope to succeed.
2. Walk with care. This isn’t a race. You don’t know where the finish line is, therefore every step you take must be planned and not in haste. Whether it’s the hundredth step or the ten thousandth, an injury will ruin you.
3. Have a plan. If you have food, ration it. Never run out of water, ever. Know how fast you’re moving. Pay attention to the time and the weather. Take care of your feet.
4. Look up. Too much rucking will create a habit of looking down at the ground. Look around you. What is going on around you? When was the last time you stopped to take a deep breath? The value of keeping your head up, literally and figuratively, can never be overstated.
5. Fight. Fight your body. Fight the pain. Fight your mind, especially. You will hit a wall at some point. Know it when it happens and be prepared to fight.
You have it within yourself to complete this final task. You need only overcome every barrier your mind can put in your way. Easy day, all day, right?
My last bit of advice can be summed up in a few words: don’t get involved in the hype of the event. What’s the one thing all selection finishers have in common? They didn’t show up for the fanfare. They don’t brag about their accomplishment, or look down on anyone for not doing what they’ve done. They don’t need congratulations.
Do what you came to do and get it done.
Cadre Jerad is Active Duty within Army Special Operations and has 18 deployments to 12 different countries post 9/11.