It’s time to hit on a topic that is a real challenge for most of us in advance of a GORUCK event: anxiety. Even if you don’t associate the feeling with anxiety, I’m sure there are doubts in the back of your mind that need to be addressed. You know. Easy stuff like:
- Can I survive the Welcome Party? Or, what the hell is the Welcome Party?
- I’m not good at push-ups, but I know we are going to have to do a ton of them.
- What are my buddies going to think if I throw up?
- How long is this thing actually going to last?
- I have some nagging soreness in my back/arms/legs – should I pull out now?
- What type of food do I need to pack?
Some of us might wake up in the middle of the night worrying. These doubts and concerns can creep into your psyche at awkward times. You can have a quiet laugh to yourself if the latter is true. Particularly if it was really embarrassing timing.
Here are a few points that I use to help me cope with pre-event doubts and anxieties:
- Embrace the suck. GORUCK Challenges suck. There is no need to sugar coat it. The cadre will push us beyond our physical and mental barriers. It happened to me in both Challenges I completed. Your body hurts. Your feet are blistered. Worth is annoying you with his motivational style. You don’t know what time it is or how much longer you have to go. BUT, at some point when you are at your lowest, you achieve an almost Zen-like state of acceptance. You realize that the Challenge is not going to beat you. And you become stronger from that point forward because you have officially embraced the suck and made the conscious decision to press on.
- Work toward the anxiety. Push-ups are stressing me out this year. Last year it was overheads. If you are concerned about a specific concentration, work to address the problem area. I’m doing more push-ups with heavier weight than I have in previous years. You can’t be prepared for everything, but you can plan for and work toward your anxiety areas through preparation. All of us have our weaknesses. And, those will be exhibited at some point in the event. The goal is to push through those low points as best you can and come out of the valley intact.
- Know you are not alone. The NCR Squad decided to organize Custom Challenges because we like and trust one another. One of the best antidotes for anxiety surrounding the event is to realize that you are not alone. We are a team and will start and finish the event as a team. We are fortunate to have a high number of GRTs on our team. If you are concerned about the Welcome Party, talk to a team member who has completed a GORUCK event. Same with food and hydration. Each of us are unique and plan differently for these areas. We have experimented with different options and can offer advice. For example, I pack tortillas with me. Good sodium. Filling. And, not too heavy in the stomach. The point is to talk to your teammates. We are in this together and everybody will finish together.
- Get out of your head. This one is typed a lot easier than executed. We all have doubts heading into the event, but you have to get out of your own head. We have an idea about how long the event will last and the length it will run, but we won’t know for sure until it is over. Doubts about certain weaknesses will creep into your mind. Beat them back through preparation and knowledge in the fact that we are at the will of the Cadre. Since we are not in his head, we can’t know how the Welcome Party will run or what other fun he has in store for us along the way. We will know soon enough.
While the above help me, each of us have our own strategies to deal with event anxiety as we head toward the final weeks of training. I know I’ll have butterflies in the parking lot as we gather for the Welcome Party. It happens to me before every athletic event (whether it be a marathon, triathlon or 5-K) and has become a good friend. I have learned to embrace it; and, hopefully you have or will learn to as well.
Finally, for the new people, stop watching videos of previous GORUCK Challenges. That doesn’t help with the “Get out of your head” bullet.
See you in Yorktown!