Jeff Carouth

Web and mobile developer. Agile apprentice.

A Personal Fitness Challenge

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This is normally something people do on January 1, or at least on “next Monday,” but I am choosing to release this right now because there is no point in waiting. For years of my life I was an athlete. I trained hard, put in many hours, miles, repetitions. I played basketball, soccer, baseball, ran a few races, rode a road bike up mountains, across cities, and even to Edge, TX. Somewhere I lost my focus and stopped.

Endurance Athletics

When I started college in 2003 I had come off of a year of not playing organized sports for the first time since I was eight years old or so. It showed. I was out of shape. So I made a choice and picked up running. I had never been into long distance running; I prefered to run the 84-94 foot length of a basketball court repeatedly for an hour and a half because someone was late to study hall. (Okay, not really but somehow that made more sense to me than putting on shoes and running for a couple hours.)

I changed my mind. I started out with an easy two mile run. I had no idea how to pace myself. I was used to going all out knowing I had a break coming in a few seconds. But, I learned. I worked my way up until I was able to run 4-5 miles every morning with a longer run at least once a week. I got into great runner’s shape. But I wanted something else.

So I bought a road bike. My flexibility from running came in handy and I quickly built up more power. I was riding my bike almost every day. I’d set out routinely on a Saturday morning and ride for 80 to 120 miles with some friends, sometimes pushing the boundaries of what my body could handle. But I felt free.

I don’t know why I parked my bicycle and stopped running. I just did one day and never really got back into it.

The Fall

After I quit I had a slight problem. I didn’t know how to eat as a normal mortal. I only knew that I had to work hard to shovel enough food into my face to give me the energy I needed to ride and run as much as I was. That translated into some weight gain. That led to more and more and before I really knew it I was buying new clothes and saying I was going to get it all together starting next Monday.

I’m sure this is a common pattern a lot of people fall into. And it sucks. It really does.

The Hill

I decided I was going to do something about it. I signed up for a half marathon in 2011 and trained for it. I didn’t train as hard as I could but I did complete the event in 02:27:07. I was disappointed in my time a little bit but I was happy to have finished.

Training for that race was good for me and it reminded me of better times in my athletic life. I was ready to keep going. But the days after the event I had some pain in my ankle that I just couldn’t shake. I did what any responsible person would do and went and saw a doctor with some knowledge of sports injuries. I had tedonities of my achilies tendon and the doctor told me to stay off of it for two weeks. Two weeks turned into a very long time.

I bought some new shoes and tried to get back into it but the pain came back. So that turned into longer. And more body weight. And feeling defeated.

Inspiration

I’ve been looking for something to really inspire me to get out there and train. To work hard. The social leader boards of different apps don’t really do it for me. The pressure of watching other people do things doesn’t either, until I’m at a level where I can compete.

It sounds crazy now that I’m thinking of how to write it but I found the inspiration I need while searching for a new travel backpack. (It’s pure lunacy now that I’m actually writing it.) I came across a bag that had some pretty good comments from several people: the GORUCK GR1. At first I balked at the price. That was a little more than what I was looking to spend on a backpack to throw my clothes in for a 5-day trip.

Then I got curious. What are people paying for? Economics is a funny thing and if you can convince people that you have something that is in high demand by way of fueled marketing you can get away with some shocking pricing. I’m not saying that GORUCK’s packs are not priced well. I don’t have one so I can’t comment on that. But I am glad I started looking into it.

I found the GORUCK events tab and saw what hell people would willingly put themselves through. “Embrace the suck,” was a message I saw in various places where people talked about their experiences with the GORUCK events. That reminded of me my first run back in 2003. I was sure it was going to suck, but I embraced the suck and it turned into something very positive for me.

I knew at that moment I had to do this for myself. I don’t know what caused it but I really felt motivated to complete a GORUCK Challenge. Running a 5K, a 10K, a Half Marathon, etc. is hard work; riding a century (100 miles) called the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is impressive; but rucking 15-20 miles and doing PT over 8-10 hours while wearing a rucksack filled with 35-50 pounds seems like an inspiring challenge.

The Challenge

So, I have challenged myself to complete a GORUCK Challenge event in 2015. I don’t know when or where I will do it, but I will complete it in 2015.

I’m doing what I am calling a Couch to GORUCK challenge and I effectively started last week. I only ended up walking a total of 16 miles last week because I developed a really nasty blister on a 6-mile walk on Thursday. Friday was spent with me walking on the side of my left foot to avoid the pain of the blister.

I purchased some new shoes to replace the Minimus shoes I was wearning for my walks. I think those shoes are great for up to 3 miles but at present they don’t fit well enough to go much futher than that. That should hopefully get me out of blister hell, but part of this training plan is to learn about the gear, so we’ll see how that turns out.

The plan is actually simple. I am going to log a lot of miles walking, running, and rucking. I am supplementing with some weight training in a more crossfit-inspired manner as opposed to a traditional weight training plan. The main thing I want to do is increase strength while minimizing muscle gain. The more muscle you have the harder it is to ruck for 18 miles. That’s my theory anyway.

My diet is going to lean on the low-carb side, but I’m not embracing any particular “diet” like Paleo or Primal or Atkins. I am eating things that I know my body handles well that are lower in carbs and contain higher levels of protein and fat. Call it ketogenic if you must, but this type of dieting has worked for me in the past quite successfully.

Commitment

I wanted to write this blog post as a way to really put myself out there and have a chance for someone to read this and ask me how it’s going in a few months from now. If not, that’s okay too. But it’s out there now so I have to do it, right?

I told several people close to me about this already. I got a few “you are a crazy person,” and “why would you want to do that?” responses, but for the most part people seem to be excited for me. I won’t let them down. I won’t let myself down either.

One of the themes of the GORUCK events is “Don’t Fucking Quit” and I won’t.