My First Steps Towards GORUCK

To prepare for the GORUCK Heavy in May, I recently completed the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to get a baseline of my current fitness level. I welcomed 2015 by doing this test at a local high school track in Seattle, alongside Jie’s brother Lex.

The APFT consists of: 1) as many pushups as you can do in 2 minutes 2) as many situps as you can in 2 minutes and 3) a timed 2 mile run. Between each event there is a 2 minute rest.

I must confess that when I first saw this, I thought to myself, this can’t be too hard. Sure that’s a long time to be doing pushups and situps but I frequently run much longer than 2 miles. At most, this would take less than 25 minutes and be a good warmup.

Boy, was I wrong!

To start with, since arriving in Seattle on New Year’s Eve, it has been freezing, with daytime temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (yes I have become spoiled since moving to the West Coast). To compensate for the cold, I wore multiple layers, including a hat and glove.

After a few laps to warm up, Lex and I were ready to start. With Jie manning the stopwatch and the rest of her family cheering us on, we started with the pushups. I felt really good for the first minute before fatigue started to settle in. However, I knew that as long as I came close to 80 pushups that I would hit the maximum score for that category (each category is scored on a 0-100 scale with 60 being a passing score). I finished with 87 pushups.

After our rest, I was ready to attack the situps. This was a similar experience as the pushups; I came out strong for the first minute or so before hitting a wall, literally. My stomach started to tense up and spasm throughout the second minute. I pushed myself to finish and ended up with 71 situps. But, the spasms wouldn’t go away, which obviously concerned me for the two mile run. How could I do it with muscle spasms?

Thankfully, once I started to run, the muscle pain went away. I ran the first lap fast however, as I hit the 400 meter mark, the cumulative fatigue from the pushups and situps hit me quite suddenly.

As I rounded the corner for my second lap I thought, either I will have to stop running soon and walk the rest of the course, or I may not make it.

I opted to slow it down on the second lap but kept jogging. I told myself, just get through the next lap, just get to the 1 mile mark. I completed the first mile in 6:53. I knew that my second mile would not be as fast but at least I was in range of a decent time.

Laps 5-7 were agonizing. I tried to visualize completing the next 100 meters ahead of me. There was always time to rest once I was finished.

By the time I reached the final lap, I knew I was almost home. I did my best to sprint the final 200 meters. When I finally crossed the finish line, I headed to the nearest place that I could find and collapsed, sprawled out on the ground. I finished in 14:40, a time that I could easily eclipse if all I had to was run, but that day felt like I had run back to back 4 minute miles.

Lex was also feeling it as he finished. He had powered through the situps and pushups but was pushed to the limit by the run, just like me.

Finally, I got up off the ground. My throat was throbbing and the back of my head pounded. I felt completely exhausted. Jie’s parents were concerned about me, saying that I had no color in my face. The next few hours felt like a daze. I had no appetite and no energy. I rested intermittently.

I managed to eat dinner before passing out at 10pm, sleeping a much needed 9 hours. When I woke up, I felt refreshed except for the soreness in my obliques from running so hard.

Clearly, if I am going to succeed in May, I need to ramp up my training considerably. Even though I scored 273 out of the 300 on the test (you can find a APFT calculator here), I have considerable room to improve on both my situps and 2 mile run. If anything, I am happy that I experienced this now, more than four and a half months before the race. It will give me added motivation to keep pushing.

 

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2 Responses to My First Steps Towards GORUCK

  1. danberstein says:

    Reading about Jie’s family concern for you, as well as your own internal monologue, It sounds like you were in bad shape after pushing yourself hard to boost your score to 273. Since the GORUCK looks to be a prolonged event might it be helpful to monitor your score of what you can accomplish at a sustainable pace that doesn’t leave you in a three-hour no-appetite no-energy daze?

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