Don’t judge a Ruck by its cover. You may have heard the stories. You may have seen the pictures, but do you really understand what it means to Ruck? I’ve heard some mumble chatter both good and bad regarding a GoRuck event. Therefore, I want to share my personal experience and shed some true light on what it’s like to train and experience a GoRuck event. I’m not here to convert people to the “dark side”, but personally, I want to silence some of the negative things I have heard and highlight the positive lessons I learned. I want to show how a GoRuck experience could positively impact your life both physically and mentally. And, how it could strengthen the meaning of FiA Strong.
First, this is my disclaimer, I don’t pretend to be a phenomenal writer. In fact, I’m sure I have already made a thousand errors that would set the AP Stylebook in flames, but I am writing from my heart. So, please be patient with my writing and grammar because this is my true Ruck story…
When I first heard about the F3/FiA GoRuck Custom Light I had no idea what I was getting myself into. From the little things I heard it sounded a lot like military basic training. Since my brother, father, father-in-law and uncles are/were in the military I have always had an interest in experiencing their training to some degree. Plus, I wanted to show respect to our entire military by getting a glimpse of their training. So, I signed up. Never in a million years did I ever think my simple Hard Commit (HC) would turn into one of the best experiences of my life.
You see a GoRuck is more than what you have heard. Sure, I was stepped on by a Navy SEAL for not doing an exercise properly and was even punished for not performing the one job I had as an Assistant Team Lead, but in between those moments I learned so much more. Even just thinking about the event brings up so many great memories. See, a GoRuck event is more than just getting yelled at by Cadre Geoff or getting PT orders by Cadre Danny. I learned the importance of teamwork and attention to detail. I learned that an experience like this can create strong bonds with complete strangers. I learned I can push myself to limits I never thought possible.
I am not going to lie, Cadre Geoff was hard on us. He did not mince words and he had little tolerance for slacking off. In spite of his harshness, I never once felt degraded and I want to make that very clear. In his hard way he showed me and my teammates how to work through the pain and pay attention to detail. It was under his watch that I learned the importance of teamwork and how one person’s actions can impact an entire team. In Cadre Geoff’s real life experience, if one of his SEAL teammates didn’t pay attention someone paid the ultimate price of death. Fortunately, in our GoRuck experience we didn’t have to make that sacrifice, but his message was loud and clear and we respected it. His lesson is so important and applicable to my family and work life. If I have a bad attitude…my kids and husband will have a bad attitude. If I slack off at work…my coworkers and employees will slack off. If we don’t support our “family team” or our “work team” we all suffer and the goals we set out to accomplish as family/work teams fail. This failure results in long-term consequences.
Also, we learned strength. During training, simulations and the actual GoRuck we did exercises I never imagined doing. Carry a Ruck with bricks doesn’t seem hard, but trying walking with it on your back while carrying a freaking telephone pole with two other ladies for what seems like an eternity. Try doing push-ups with it on your back, wall sits with it over your head or lunge walks with it overhead. Or, if you are feeling really crazy throw it on your back and reverse Bear Crawl up the Finlay Park stairs. It all hurts. I’m telling you I felt muscles I’ve never knew I had, but it felt good. I felt so strong and empowered. Did I want to quit? Heck ya. Even during the first ten minutes of our Ruck simulation led by No Help I wanted to quit. Also, during the first 10 minutes of the Ruck Welcome Party I felt smoked and felt like crying, but I didn’t. I found strength from within. I knew I could handle it because I knew my teammates were experiencing the same pain, the same doubts and the same fear. Now, when I encounter physical and mental challenges I am better equipped because my experience with GoRuck taught me I can get through it.
Although a GoRuck event is very much about the team experience you also learn about individual leadership. The cadre assigns Team Leads (TL) and Assistant Team Leads (ATL). For me, this was an intimidating task. My daily job requires me to lead/manage people and projects. However, leading a group of F3 and FiA teammates I barely knew under the watchful eye of an Army Ranger well, it struck fear in me, but I did it. Even in training I hesitated stepping up to the plate for this job. It wasn’t until Full House and Neck Brace forced me out of my comfort zone did I take on this task.
Quickly, you learn what it’s like to be on a team with a strong leader vs. one who needs improvement. As a leader of a GoRuck team you need to watch out for everyone on your team, make sure they are rotating on and off the heavy coupons (weights), you need to make time/distance goals, you need to make sure everyone is watching out for each other and you need to make sure your team is motivated and doesn’t quit. As a TL an ATL, you have to avoid distraction and take time to count your team, look out for “dangers” and make sure your team is headed in the right direction. It can be extremely stressful and my teammates know I made some mistakes as ATL and TL. I made one major mistake that was detrimental to my TL, Full House, who also happens to be one of my dearest friends. I let her down big time and I felt awful, but I learned a good lesson. As an ATL and TL, I learned how to avoid panic, how to have confidence in your team and (most importantly for me) even as a leader it’s okay to ask for help. At the end of the day, we are all leaders in one way or another. Whether we lead/co-lead our household, work environment, run groups, church groups, Scout groups, FiA/F3 workouts, etc. we all lead at one time or another. A GoRuck experience makes you a better leader, but also a patient team member. This lesson translates so well into real life.
Finally, I learned friendship. For a long time I only felt comfortable working out and challenging myself solo, but I am so grateful my teammates brought me out of that “solo zone”. One of the hardest parts of doing a Ruck is when it’s over. I miss my team. Some of my teammates I knew better than others, but we created lifetime bonds that will last forever. If any one of my teammates from the GoRuck Light called on me for help I would be there in a heartbeat and I know they would do the same for me.
With all of that said I only have one regret. I regret that I didn’t hear about GoRuck earlier in life. It has taught me so much as an individual, wife, mother, employee, manager, coworker and human. If I could get my family, friends and coworkers to try it out I would. I think everyone could benefit from this experience. That is why an all FiA GoRuck is so important. The experience will only make us stronger as individuals, regions and FiAs as a whole.
A GoRuck experience is not about the angry cadre who yells at you, the insane physical challenges or the heavy Ruck on your back…it’s so much more. So, I encourage you to stop judging a Ruck by its cover. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and give it a try in October.
Thank you for letting me share my Ruck story.