Ruck BEAST Squad features interviews with members of the community to highlight their lives, training, gear, and insight. Hopefully as you read through this you’ll be able to take away advice that will help you train better and perform better that upcoming events. In this issue of Ruck BEAST Squad we get to know Jill Bates.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself to get us started.
A: My name is Jill Bates. I’m a 38 year old mom of an eleven year old daughter living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
Q: Where did your GORUCK journey start? What was your first event? What stands out from that event?
A: My first event was a “Light” back in 2013 in Oklahoma City. I had never heard of GORUCK but had some buddies that I ran races with suggest we sign up for this thing. Back then there was little to be found on GORUCK events so you signed up pretty unsure of what was going to happen. I registered, but my buddies never did. I wasn’t NOT going to go, so I drove to OKC by myself. Besides making the rookie mistake of taking my phone and having it destroyed, that event stands out because 1) I quickly learned how unprepared I really was and 2) that group of people were some of the best I have ever done an event with. We were bonded for a long time after that event; I can’t look at the duck pond at the Myriad botanical garden without thinking of them.
Q: What was your most recent event or events. What would you like to tell us about it / them?
A: My last event was a Heavy in Tulsa the summer of 2018. Tulsa in the summer is miserable; think sweaty hot armpit. I originally planned to do the full HTL since it was the first time my city had a HTL but the heat just kicked my ass. It was 100 degrees at midnight on the first night and was cooking during the day. I got dehydrated, my feet blistered and I was done after finishing the Heavy. Definitely not my favorite event for various reasons. I’m sure I could have trudged through 2 more events but I want to finish contributing to the group versus expecting them to carry me to the end. Sometimes you have to accept that it’s just not your time. Failing is a helluva lesson (I say that like Rick James).
I also did a 12 mile Star Course in April 2019 in OKC – had a friend ask me to do it so I signed up. It was nice to do an event and not be beat down broken afterwards. It was only 12 miles so for me, it was just a nice stroll around OKC with friends sightseeing.
Q: Favorite Ruck?
A: I started off using a Marine Corps issued ruck (my ex-husband was a Marine) for my first 10 events. I was gifted a GR0 (now called the GR1 21L) and used that with the unpadded hip belt for pretty much everything (poor thing has some heavy wear and needs to go to SCARS). Only recently have started using my GR1 American. I hate to dirty it up but it was made to be used and not be a museum piece that sits in my closet.
Q: Proudest accomplishment as a GRT?
A: Gosh, anytime I finish something I’m proud. I’m honestly still surprised at what I’ve accomplished. Finishing the Triple Tough was cool, I was relieved to be done when I finished both my HTLs, and surviving a Geoff Reeves Challenge was painful. I had a GRT come up to me after a double Tough (I think it was still a Challenge then) to tell me that I did a hell of a job and that he was impressed. G was a badass and to have him notice that I was keeping up with the boys was pretty awesome and something I’m proud of.
Q: How many events have you done? What’s your favorite event or type of event? Why?
A: I have an Excel spreadsheet of all my events actually (organized dork) – it has dates, event, and Cadre on it. I think I’m sitting at 38; I thought it was more, actually. My favorite events are the hard ones. I want to tell the stories of shared suffering and pain. Those events seem to be the ones where you bond with people the most.
Q: Why do you continue to do events? What keeps you coming back?
A: I haven’t done an event in a while due to my single mom income, but for there was a time I felt like doing events was an addiction. It was a chance to see friends and an excuse to travel somewhere. Over the years, friends retired and stopped doing events and so things didn’t seem to have the same bonding experience. I think I had a few events where there didn’t seem to be any thought put into the event by the Cadre. To me that was a sign that I needed a break because I’m sure my attitude was salty AF and that’s bad for the team. I have been getting the itch to do things again, though. The Heavy Drop community has reminded me of the good parts of events.
Q: How do you train for events?
A: Training is my favorite. I have been doing Heavy Drop Training for a full year (I’m currently on my 8th round). Prior to Heavy Drop Training, I had been powerlifting for 3 years exclusively and ended 2018 with new PRs across the board. But in January 2019 I had strained my hip while bench pressing, of all things. I kept trying to lift but I was only making my injury worse. I eventually invested in my garage setup (FB marketplace, Craigslist and lots of negotiating to pull it all together) and started working out at home. I was still nursing my injury and was getting fluffy because my workouts were watered down so much while I healed. I took a leap to try something new and joined a cult by registering for Heavy Drop Training. I am so glad I did. The community is great, and the programming has brought me back from an injury to being strong again. At the beginning of 2020, I was doing Heavy Drop Training, Pathfinder Horizon, and Ruck Strong at the same time. I knew I needed more miles on my feet and everyone talked about Pathfinder for years. I was curious at my strength and lifting post injury and Ruck Strong was hitting my Facebook newsfeed. So I signed up for them all. It takes a lot of planning, but I got all 3 programs done. I also did all the programming; I didn’t use Heavy Drop workouts for Pathfinder, etc. I figured I was paying for their program so I was going to use it fully. Right now, I’m doing Heavy Drop and Pathfinder Advanced. I routinely throw in my own stuff on top of these programs. I generally work out twice a day up to a total of 4-5 hours per day. Part of the reason I like following other’s training programs is my worry that, I will kill myself under my own sadistic programming. I have been doing more AMRAPs and doing a lot of hero WODS to work on cardio crap. One thing I like to do, is find something I’m weak at and then focus on getting better at it. I almost get excited when I feel like I am bad at something because I see it as an opportunity to improve myself. Now, there is cussing during the suck, but afterwards, my rational thought returns along with air in my lungs and I start plotting how to improve.
Q: Best Rucking and / or GORUCK event advice you have gotten?
A: DFQ. Plain and simple.
Q: Other than packing list items, what is a must have in your ruck for events?
A: Food. Most people aren’t carrying around vegetarian/vegan granola bars and candy so I have to make sure to have a good stash for myself. One of the funniest things on my last Heavy, Cadre Chad took our food away and put it in sack. Losing food sucks for me because I get HANGRY! When we were finally were given a chance to eat, everyone dived in like zombies in a frenzy grabbing and taking whatever was there. I eventually came across a granola bar I packed, it was opened and a bite taken out and someone had put it back in the sack! I thought it was delicious but apparently a starving non-vegetarian couldn’t choke it down. I also really like to have a 5-hour energy shot in my ruck for low points. They taste horrible and probably don’t help, but my mind thinks they do, and that’s all that matters.
Q: What other hobbies do you have?
A: I foster kittens for an area rescue group. It’s a very rewarding and heartbreaking thing to do. You have to sometimes bring babies back from being on death’s door but some don’t make it, and then you have to give up the babies that you love to be adopted. You give love knowing you will have to say goodbye. I learned a lot about my strength through fostering.
Q: What’s the best purchase under $100 you’ve made in the past 12 months.
A: Besides protein powder (I’m a gluten-free dairy-free vegetarian athlete that tracks macros, and protein supplementation is important), I would say Heavy Drop Training continues to be the best purchase I’ve made (Sup HDT’ers). It’s 6 weeks of work, but you can get a lot out of it. Your improvements are tracked and they speak for themselves. Do the work, and you’ll improve. I love seeing people post their proud accomplishments in the Heavy Drop community. This world is big enough for lots of strong people, so let’s celebrate that shit instead of being competitive. Use someone’s success as motivation. I want to surround myself with people that are better than me; they drive me to be better. I fight to catch up to them and do it cheering them on to get better themselves.
Q: How has rucking changed or improved your life?
A: It brought a lot of good people to my life. I will forever be grateful for friendships. Rucking has also opened me to a totally different and unconventional way of training that I really enjoy.
Q: How do you recruit new people to ruck, or do events with you?
A: I used to pester and eventually break people down to sign up. I was pretty good at rallying the troops. Nowadays, I just do the work. People will naturally follow you if you lead.
Q: Best Beer to drink after a ruck?
A: I actually don’t drink. There are a few of us non-drinker sober folks in the community (Sup Team Banana). I gave up booze back in 2011 when I was taking control of my life and working to become healthier. I was at my heaviest in 2010, sitting around 280# in a size 22. I had to change everything I was doing and booze was put on hold. Just never have picked it back up. I crave coffee and carbs after events and long rucks (black coffee & Chipotle most of the time).
Q: Advice you would give to someone before their 1st Light?
A: Don’t be scared. Besides that, just enjoy it and realize you are doing something that a lot of people can’t and won’t ever do.
Q: Advice you’d give to someone before their 1st Tough?
A: Don’t be an ass. There is a fine line in confidence and just being a turd. It’s a team event, and the sooner you figure that out the better you’ll be. Stay humble. Push yourself to do more because you can.
Q: If you get overwhelmed during an event how do you refocus on the task at hand?
A: I cuss a lot. I joke that it’s my relief valve from flipping out. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, and I don’t eat meat – swearing is my one vice. Besides that, I have the ability to turn my brain off. I will literally have no thoughts and just keep moving forward. Being a morning person, the sun coming up always breathes new life into me. I tell myself to make it to the sun.
Q: What’s the next event or events on your calendar?
A: I am signed up for the OKC bombing memorial Tough/Light. Those events have been pushed back due to the pandemic. I am also signed up for Team Assessment. With me being out of the game for a while, people in the community don’t really know who I am, and I am still without a buddy. I’m still training like I’m going, though, and if it’s meant to be, it will work out. One of the key things I learned with GORUCK, keep a cool mind. When you panic and scramble, you make poor choices, so stay calm and be intentional.
Plug moment: Hey badass if you’re reading this and don’t have a teammate, here’s your sign.
Q: Any parting shots? Things the community needs to know?
A: At a Dallas event there was a dude carrying this tree stump and called for relief. I scurry up to him, “here.” Dude told me to find someone else because the stump was really heavy. I’m there to help him and he flat out told me no. Bonkers. My friend Connor was next to me and heard what was going on, “Dude, give her the weight.” Eventually Connor took the weight from him and immediately turned and gave the weight to me. I carried that thing for as long as I possibly could and did it way longer than that dude. He even said, “Oh I guess you’re good at that.”
The moral of the story being, you tell someone they can’t do something, then most won’t. When you’re lifting with a coach or a spotter, they aren’t telling you, “You can’t do this, it’s heavy.” No, they are hyping you up yelling “Come on!” They are there to help you IF you fail. If you tried to lift your max with that negative shit, you’d likely get crushed. Telling chicks they can only carry the flag doesn’t let them challenge themselves to see what they are capable of. Don’t assume anything. Give everyone the same chance. They may fail but that’s part of the process. Failure sometimes is the greatest gift, but if you don’t let someone even try, they will never realize what they need to work on.
If you know someone (or are someone) who would be a good fit for an upcoming episode of Ruck BEAST Squad please reach out to Derek Hill (derekhill1 AT gmail DOT com).