I am beyond grateful to Alex Stavdal for taking the time to chat with me for over an hour about his incredible GORUCK Selection finish. He’s a very humble guy and it was great to talk to him about this huge event.
Thousands watched him over the duration of GORUCK Selection 019 cheering him on from the live feeds. It was truly something special to witness and we were all very excited to see him walk away completing the event.
During this interview we cover how he found GORUCK and his first event, when he decided to sign up for GORUCK Selection, what it was like to fail GORUCK Selection 018, what he changed between 018 and 019, then how it felt to complete 019.
- GORUCK & Rucking Glossary
- Charity Challenges Flutter Kick Challenge
- All Day Ruckoff Store
- GORUCK Selection Registration
- GORUCK Selection Definitive Edition
- Behind the Scenes of GORUCK Selection, From the Cadre
- The Man in the Challenge Pants at Selection 019
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 01
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 02
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 03
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 04
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 05
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 06
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 07
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 08
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 09
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 10
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 11
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 12
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 13
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 14
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 15
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 16
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 17
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 18
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 19
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 20
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 21
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 22
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 23
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 24
- GORUCK Selection Live Coverage Part 25
- GORUCK Selection Live Recap
Thanks so much for listening! If you missed any of our earlier episodes you can give them a listen right now. Hopefully you enjoyed the podcast and are excited about the next one. This is very new to us so we would appreciate it if you would cut us some slack as we work on perfecting our methodologies. Did you enjoy the podcast? We’d love a review on iTunes or even our Facebook Page! Didn’t enjoy it? Leave a comment here in the show notes and let us know what we can do better!
Brain: Thanks so much again, Alex, for just taking the time to talk with me. I truly appreciate this and I’m super excited about it.
Alex: I know. I’m stoked, so it’s great.
Brian: Let’s start out with your involvement in the GORUCK community. How did you first stumble upon GORUCK?
Alex: Yeah. I have to give credit specifically for signing up my first GORUCK event to my buddy, Eric. I knew him through the obstacle course racing community. It was actually funny, he was one of the first guys I met when I signed up for my very first Spartan race, which was a Hurricane Heat, followed by a sprint, and I saw this dude camping out in the parking lot, like in a tent, and I was like, “Hey, that guy has got the right idea. I got to be friends with that guy.” We met from there. We kind of had a big group that all molded together and we camped before a lot of obstacle course races, that sort of thing.
Just all of a sudden at one point he’s like, “Hey, man. I noticed people are doing this thing called GORUCK,” and explained a little bit about it and said I did one. It was super cool. You got to try it out. Yes, I signed up for my first challenge. He was there, a couple of other friends were there and I had a great time. It was with Cadre Jesse and Cadre Heath in New York City and it was really cool. It was definitely different.
Brian: That’s awesome. Back to the Hurricane Heat, what year was that?
Alex: That was — It wasn’t too long ago. That was 2014.
Alex: Yeah. I did one obstacle course race the year before that, which was the Rugged Maniac, and then I was like, “Yeah, this is cool. I need more of a challenge. I got to train more for this.” Yeah, the next season, it was 2014, and that was the Tuxedo. I did the Hurricane Heat and then I did the Sprint.
Brian: Very cool. When was that first GORUCK event?
Alex: That first GORUCK event, I guess it was probably — It wasn’t the same season, so it must have been the season after that, which would have been 2015, and if I remember correctly, I think it was like the end of March of 2015.
Brian: Very cool. Leading up to that GORUCK event, you’ve done a number of Spartan races, mud runs, the Hurricane Heat. At that point, had they switched it over to the kind of ruck-based individual event, or was it still a team-based event?
Alex: The Hurricane Heat?
Alex: Yeah. The Hurricane Heat back then, that was still — The Hurricane Heat now is a much more introductory event. They smoke people in the 12 hour, but the Hurricane Heat back then was like — Now, it’s a much more introductory event. They really — They put us through the ringer. Granted I had a lot less experience with any sorts of endurance events or anything like that. Yeah, it was only 5 hours or so, but I remember that event. They definitely — They smoked us.
Brian: They brought it.
Alex: They didn’t mess around back then. Yeah. That was a Tony Matesi event, so that was solid.
Alex: That was still when almost everybody involved with Spartan, especially endurance events, were death racers, from like the old school crew. He put us through the ringer for sure.
Brian: Yeah. I did my first Hurricane Heat back in 2011, I want to say, or 2012, and then I did another one a year after that. I know they’ve changed a ton since then, but they’re pretty interesting back then.
Alex: It’s great, but it gives a scaled event for people that — Just like a lot of the companies, there’s some more introductory and then it gets more advanced as you go. That’s the way they do it now, but yeah, it is funny because we’ll talk about it sometimes, like, “Man! They would smoke you back then, for sure, regardless of the length.”
Brian: Yeah. When you finished your first GORUCK event back in March-ish of 2015, were you hooked and did you wanted to do another event afterwards or did you need some time to process it all and recover a little?
Alex: No. I think I was definitely in the camp of like that was really cool. I loved it. Definitely wanted to do more. I was in Boy Scout all growing up. I was outside a lot. I was used to backpacking. I had done a lot of backpacking trips, heavy packs, lots of miles in the woods. It was funny, because when I showed up to my first Tough, I was, “Oh, man! I know this stuff.” You know what I mean? I was doing this my whole life, and I had my stuff all like neatly tied up in my ruck. I was like, “Ah, I’m going to put,” — it was still bricks then. I was like, “I’m going to put my bricks really high and I’m going to singe down my water bladder and do all these fancy stuff. I know all these. It was going to be great.” I showed up, like, “Oh, I got this. It’s going to be good.”
Still with some hesitation about what was going to happen in the event, but like, “All right. At least my gear is solid, because I know this stuff.” Of course, immediately, right off the bat, Jesse is just like, “All right, dump out all of your shit.” I’m just like, “Uh-oh! Everything is tied up. I have a disaster going on here.” That was kind of like my very first dip in the water was Jesse with a flashlight in my face, like, “Dump all your shit out!” Of course, I can’t, because there’s a million knots tying everything up. It was definitely funny.
As far as after we’re done, loved it. Thought it was totally cool, and my second event, I ended up signing up and buying a GORUCK bag for the Memorial Day Heavy, which was at that point like a month and a half away. I was hooked definitely.
Brian: That’s awesome.
Alex: Yeah, the team sense of it and everything. That’s why I still love doing the team events, meeting a group of people that you don’t know. I think it’s even more fun many times than doing it with a group of people you do know, because you go from nobody knows each other to, “Hey, we went through this thing together that was rough and we forged together and we got to know each other and have a great time. I think that’s one of the coolest parts.
Brian: Yeah, it’s always really fun, especially if you’re doing it in a new city that you’ve never been to. You know, explore a town. At times you generally are now at exploring and you get to meet a ton of people who are also crazy enough to sign up for the same stuff you are. It’s a good company.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Going city to city is definitely one of my favorite parts and something I want to do even more of for sure. That second event, like I said, was Memorial Day Heavy and that was back when if you signed up for a Heavy, you were automatically signed up for the Tough and the Light. It was my second event. I had done okay in the Tough, but I was not conditioned to ruck. That Heavy was Madi and Logan, and then Cadre Jeff showed up as a surprise, because he was in town, and they went on a solid rotation. That was a 27-hour Heavy, and I still didn’t have a GORUCK bag at that point. I haven’t yet gotten it. It was with bricks, so it was some crappy off-brand ruck, and 27 hours later, like we finished that heavy and I was like, “I can’t walk anymore.” I had done all the prep. I had read all the things, but it didn’t matter. Physically, I hadn’t been training rucking for barely any time a month or two at that point. There was nowhere that the Tough, which at that point was starting in 18 minutes, it was going to happen. I was like, “Nope!”
I finished that Heavy, but that HTL didn’t happen. I said, “Okay. Before they change it,” that was when they were going to go to HTL from an HCL, but I just said, “I want to do it while it still what it was, since that’s what I tried.” I ended up signing up for the Vet Day HCLS the following fall in San Francisco, because that was the only one left. That was awesome, because I flew out to San Fran, met all the NorCal GRTs, awesome group and got to know so many of those people just from doing that trip and it’s all because I failed at the first HTL. Yeah, sometimes things work out like that, and it was super cool. That definitely gave me the bug of, “Oh! I got to go around and meet other crews.”
Brian: That’s awesome. Yeah, there’s a huge group of GRT down in California. The NorCal group is awesome. That’s great you got out there.
Alex: Yeah, they were really cool. Yeah, even the HTLS class. There were tons of drops, yet it was still like a 30-person, or 31-person HTLS class. Yeah, it was a big group, but they don’t mess around up there.
Brian: No kidding. March 2015 is your first Tough. A couple of months later is your Heavy. A bit after that you do the HCLS. When did you decide that you wanted to attempt GORUCK Selection?
Alex: The first time with Selection, I guess I probably — I remember I was at Wintergreen for the Spartan Super in Virginia. That same group I was talking about. It’s like a big condo there. It was that same weekend and I watched Stoney in Bozeman, Montana and I had never really heard of Selection, once or twice maybe. I knew it was like all these thing that’s much harder than the other ones, but I hadn’t read anything on it or really seen anything at that point.
I remember such a big group between the endurance community and OCR and that whole community. You know a lot of people and then a lot of people know a lot of people and it’s like — I remember like this person — “Oh, yeah! I know this guy. He’s an animal. I know this guy, and he’s an animal.” It was like the huge group of us watching, it was like, “Oh, there’s a ton of horses in the race.” Then it was practically like we went to bed and we got up the next day and nobody is left. That’s what caught my attention originally as well. I have all these people who are respecting the community who are like, “Oh, yeah. I know this dude. He’s a beast,” and they’re literally all gone. I followed through and I watched Stoney finish and I said, “Man! That is awesome that it went down to one dude.”
I guess a little after that is when I started researching it a little more and read some of the past AARs, looked at the low finish race. At that point I had already finished the Death Race, which was a huge item to check off a list. I said, “Okay, I read that original outside magazine review where they’re like the hardest event out there. One and two were the Death Race and Selection. I was like, “All right, if I’m going to train for something hard, Selection is the next thing.”
I didn’t know necessarily how long it was taking me to get ready for that, because I still at that point hadn’t been rucking for that long. I guess probably from the time I saw Stoney do it and then I kind of felt out my training in my events and did another HTL and I said, “Okay, I think —” At that point I started researching or reading everything that I could find on it, even it’s amazing in the past two years how much more is out there versus how hard you had to look for it before. I read everything I could and I guess probably — yeah, it was maybe eight months before my first attempt in 2015 where I said, “Okay, I’m going all in on training.”
I didn’t actually sign up till, I guess, a month and a half before it, because I didn’t see the point in spending all that money if I could have got injured during training or in other events or something, because as you’ve heard Jason mention, a lot of people mention, you need to be motivated to train and then signing up is like the formality. If you think that signing up is going to motivate you to train and you don’t already have that motivation, it’s not going to happen.
I knew there was no rush to sign up. I waited till I knew I wasn’t injured and then I laid out the money for it. Yeah, about eight months for which when I said, “Okay. I’m 100% now.”
Brian: That’s wild, and Selection is not an event that sells out. I don’t even know it can sell out. Makes complete sense to work it that way.
You had eight months to train leading up to your first GORUCK Selection attempt in 2016.
Alex: Yeah. That was Selection 018 in Bellbrook, Ohio last year.
Brian: Yeah, that was quite the event. That was one of the first GORUCK Selection events that there was some real life coverage going on there.
Alex: Yeah, if you looked at past events, 015, Selection 015 in Jacksonville — I don’t know. Something I had maybe four years ago, whatever it was. That one had serious coverage. Then Stoney in Bozeman for 017, they gave some coverage, but most of the other ones before that were pretty black. Yeah, last year was the first year that they started to dabble in some of the more live updating.
Brian: Your first attempt obviously didn’t end in success, or I guess completion. How did that impact the way you trained for round two?
Alex: Yeah. Like I said, for the first attempt, I ended up — Like I said, I did all my homework. Event that small difference in time, I had to put together and find a lot of those AERs and reviews and any little clip for video tidbit I could find online. I scoured and scoured and scoured to find it. I’ve built just like a little notepad file with all the finishers and all the classes and where they were and stuff, because that wasn’t even listed anywhere. There was like no official list, which still — I think some of the blogs in the last year are too funny enough that have maybe put together some of that information. It’s much easier find. Even two years ago, it wasn’t around.
I read, like I said, every AER review or anything I could find. The training was solid. I smoked myself. There was the same kind of dedication, 12, 13, 14 workouts a week before work, after work, weekends, long ruck, short rucks, really heavy rucks, running, weightlifting, the whole thing, I did it. I was ready in Bellbrook.
Part of it, my experience in multiday events or stage races or whatever you want to call it kind of worked against me. Of course, the cadre. The cadres were good at what they do, and it just — Any other event as hard as it is, as gnarly as the stuff they might have you do. When it comes down to it — Even during the Death Race and events like that, you’ll see people and they’ll give you a thumbs up or, you know, like you talk to other people. Selection, one of the things about it is you’re just in your own head. You literally don’t get to talk to anybody the whole event, which that probably — At least I know it. It probably messed with my head. I think that would mess with a lot of people’s heads, because it’s just like during your own head, the whole time, you have to be.
Yeah, that killed me when I dropped and I looked at — Everybody looked at me, the cadre, and they switched out of cadre mode and they’re like, “Hey, many. You were doing great.” In the moment you just feel like, “Oh, I’m doing terrible. This is embarrassing. I can’t believe I’m doing so bad all of a sudden.” You go from winning, winning, winning, and then it’s down the four of you and all of a sudden you’re the worst out of the four. If you don’t really have a good luck on what’s happening, it feels very discouraging. Yeah, it certainly wasn’t a good feeling afterwards, and that I literally never quit anything in my life, but I had said, “Okay, I’m going to do that.” To train so hard and then just, “Oops!” It’s all gone fast. It was certainly a bummer. It was fuel for sure.
Brian: I’m sure. That’s tough, and the other GORUCK Selection finishers that I’ve had on the podcast have said that it’s challenging especially as you get further into the event, because you’re so used to knocking out X-number of pushups or running a mile in a certain time and then as you progress to the event, obviously, your times and your numbers get worse and worse and you start thinking like, “What’s going on? Am I falling apart?”
Alex: Yeah. for me, I guess what happened last year in Bellbrook, it was like — Like I said, the PT test was, “Okay, yup.” I mean I had a plan. The whole plan was like get through Thursday and like if you’re there for sunrise on Friday and that small group, that’s awesome. I crushed PT test, welcome party. I felt in my head like, “Oh, man! I smoked that. That was awesome.” We went through all the evolutions at night. I made it to sunrise, and in my head I’m, “Oh! This is great. The sun is going to rise,” and that’s always a motivation. Funny enough, the sun is always the thing that gives you power. Mark just took off. He just like turned the switch on when the sun came up like an animal and just started crushing stuff. That just happened to be when I was in a dip. I got behind, the sun started to come up and then of course the evolution is a couple of hour along the beach.
I was behind. Each time, he’s resting for 10, 15, 20 minutes in between evolutions. Of course, then he is winning more and more. Yeah, it just gets really discouraging. All of a sudden, like, “Man, I was crushing it all night. How am I doing so bad?” So then you’re thinking to yourself this is going bad. You have the cadre telling you this is going bad. Yeah, it’s weird how you just end up in your own head like, “Oh, man! I can’t believe I’m doing so bad,” even though everybody else looking from the outside, they’re like, “Oh, those guys are all crushing it.” Definitely a great mental teaching moment.
Brian: Yeah. GORUCK Selection 18 is done. At one point did you decide that you’re going for GORUCK Selection 19?
Alex: I was sitting around the fire, the quitters fire if you want to call it, in the back of Jason’s dad’s house. Like I said, I walked back up there. Jason carried my ruck and I think it was Garret made me eggs. I’m sitting there eating and just like, “Man! You’re an idiot.” You’re having that moment of just like, “Oh! I can’t believe I just threw away all of that training.” Is this a mix of like being pissed off and just, “Hey, I definitely — There’s no way I’m waiting two years to do another one or to come back here, because I’m comfortable with it,” or anything like that. It was almost immediate where I said, “Yup, that’s it. I’m doing this next year and I’m going to train just as hard, crush everything and just buckle down and just buckle down, like that’s it. I’m doing it next year no matter what.” It was almost immediate to be on it.
Brian: That’s awesome. GORUCK Selection 019 was in September of 2017. Did you have to make any modifications to your training schedule before you went to that? It seems like you had it pretty well dialed in doing 12 to 14 workouts a week for 018, but was there anything that you found from 018 that made you tweak some of your stuff for 019?
Alex: There really wasn’t too much. It’s funny, because that’s the one question like everybody asks. Obviously, they’re like, “Hey, what did you change? What was the difference between the two years?” There wasn’t much speaking from a strictly physical standpoint. There was very little. I knew that I couldn’t jump the gun and go super heavy into training mode for Selection as soon as I got home from 018, because I know I would have burned out. There’s just no way that you can maintain Selection level training for a full 12 months at least without the high chance of getting injured or having a problem. You’re going to burn out. Even on just the mental social level, it’s just too much. I just said, “Okay, time to reset.” I gave myself time to recover. I focused a little more on lifting over the winter. Just tried to build up strength, bulk up a little bit, and then that’s when I got like little impatient.
When I got to that point of 7, 8 months, it was like, “Okay. Time to start cranking it up,” and I just kind of slowly dialed it up, because as I got closer, did the same thing a little further out this time. It was about three months. I cut out all the alcohol. A little over two and a half months, I guess, cut out all the caffeine, coffee, stuff like that, which that’s really sad, because black coffee is the one thing that keeps me happy during meal prep, but that was it. Just cranked it as I got closer and closer and just did the same thing, really didn’t modify too much as far as a physical standpoint.
The only real focus was I knew it was going to be super hot, so I just made sure to get as much time in the sand as I could and in clothing, uncomfortably hot as I could. As far as the training program, it’s very similar.
Brian: That’s tough. Black coffee is my advice too. Love that.
Alex: Yeah. Black coffee is like the one thing, like whether it’s hot or cold. That’s like when you’re meal prepping and you’re just eating chicken and broccoli constantly and the same stuff over and over, bland and whatever. Black coffee is like that one point in a day where it’s like, “Alright, at least I have that.” Yeah, doing that two years in a row for two or three months is definitely a bummer.
Brian: I bet. During your interview with GORUCK, you mentioned a couple of things that you changed, and just now too, in your life to succeed this time around. You cut on alcohol three months before. You cut out black coffee two and a half months before. It sounded like you were not staying out late. You’re getting your sleep for your recovery. You kind of had to skip summer. How tough was that?
Alex: Yeah. Last year for 018, it was the first time I was doing it. I’ve done similar things for whatever it might be. The first time I did the Killington Beat and Ultra Beast back to back, the Spartan Race or OCR World Championships, of for Death Race or for some of the longer events. I’ve done things like that before, but it’s usually for a much shorter period of time leading up to the event. Selection last year was definitely the first time where I had — It was a few months where I just said, “All right, no messing around. Let me just see what happens. Let me give this a try.”
Selection last year was in October. I was able to at least start halfway through the summer, so it wasn’t so bad. All the Labor Day festivities, my birthday is in September. We’ll have the fun stuff going on. You get into Halloween and stuff. It all sounds silly, but it’s just — When you combine thing after thing after thing after thing where you’re telling your friends like, “Oh, sorry. I can’t do that either.” Like, “Sorry, I got to train,” or whatever. It adds up, but it was okay the first year. It was that thing I was doing. Everyone was like, “Hey, man. That’s awesome,” and whatever.
Doing it then this year again for the second summer in a row and then with Selection being a month earlier, five weeks earlier, whatever it was. Having to kick start it basically at the beginning of summer and do the whole thing again, like a whole summer of drinking, going out late, just skipping a ton of events, or even racing. Not doing obstacle course racing, which I love. Doing all of those types of things to avoid getting injured. It was definitely harder this year just because it was like, “Oh, man! I’m in all these stuff again.” I knew it was the way to do it if I want to finish. It was certainly a good motivation to keep going during the event, like, “I’m not doing this again next summer.”
Brian: Yeah, you don’t want to spend another summer missing OCR.
Alex: Yeah, missing OCR, just hanging out or, “Oh, look at this fun show,” or whatever it might be, concert, fun night out or overnight ruck with friends doing like a fun ruck or something. Yeah, that was it. Like I said, this is the year, because I do not want to do this third year in a row.
Brian: Right. 12 to 13 workouts a week over the summer, what did you do for recovery?
Alex: My TENS unit is definitely my best friends. I just pick that on all the time, that I don’t even know. Maybe it’s more of like a placebo than what it actually is physically, but I love that thing.
Brian: What is that?
Alex: Like a TENS unit with the sticky pads with the electricity, got all different pulse settings.
Brian: Got you. Yup.
Alex: Yeah, the thing they’ll put on you, like a chiropractor or a physical therapy or whatever. Like I said, I don’t know. Probably one of those things where it’s partial science, partial placebo, but I love that.
Most important thing to me for recovery was getting enough sleep. I feel like people try all these crazy, wacky things, and for me just making sure that I was disciplined enough to go to bed so that I can get 8 or 9 hours every single night. That made a huge difference.
The other thing which I think is really overlooked by a lot of people, and I know it helps me massively. Again, I don’t know how much of it is mental, but I do very little sitting throughout the day. I have a standing desk at work. I’m in New York City, so I stand on the subway, on the train in and out every morning. I really try and sit as little as possible. I probably have it down to certain times eating and for meetings and stuff. Probably, compared to the average person who might sit for 11 hours a day or some huge number, I sit for maybe two or three hours a day all today, adding everything up.
I noticed when I started doing that purely from a health perspective, that it actually — I don’t know if it’s just because your circulation is up and your body is actively doing stuff more, but I certainly felt like that helped with muscle recovery. Yeah, I certainly wouldn’t claim that’s a science thing, but I feel a lot better doing that and it certainly seems like something that helps.
Brian: That’s interesting, right? I’ve had a standing desk at my office for six years now and that was awesome and I just got one for the house, I think, two years ago. You can really feel the difference.
Alex: Yeah, it made a huge different. Like I said, who knows what the science behind that is, if it’s just strictly a moving around thing, but I just felt like looser and heavy lifting session after a heavy lifting session after sprint running work and all that kind of stuff, I’m like it doesn’t matter. I get up the next day. I do my morning lifting workout and I’m all standing on the train and it just feels right. Yeah, I feel like that made a big difference for me.
Brian: Awesome. You’ve trained all summer. We’re getting into September. GORUCK Selection is coming up. How are you feeling the week or two before this time around?
Alex: I felt good. Obviously, I think everybody for any event, it’s significant in any way. You always sit there in the back of your head and despite all the workouts, all the dedication, all the time you’re like, “Did I do enough?” You eyeball — As much as I try and stay off social media and ignore all the junk that’s going on there, you look at some — You eyeball what other people are doing. You’re like, “Are they training harder than me? Do I have this all wrong? I am doing the wrong stuff?” You, to a hilarious level, question everything that you’re doing and how you’re doing it. That’s all just in your head. Ultimately, I knew I put in the work. I knew I had experienced it and knew what it took to finish and I felt good. I was just focused on keeping my nutrition on point, making sure all my gear was where it needed to be and not getting injured or doing something stupid post the event.
Brian: Yeah, it makes sense. It’s funny how your mind plays tricks on you like that and just start sucking or third-guessing everything.
Alex: Yeah, I don’t know how — It seems fairly common. Like I said, on a logical level I’m like, “Oh! The confidence was all there. I know it’s all the right stuff. I know it worked for me last time, but it is just funny how, yeah, you’d start thinking like, “Do I have this all wrong?” You know what I mean?
Alex: Did I just totally miss the boat here? Yeah, ultimately that’s just your head and you got to just brush that stuff aside and compartmentalize and say, “Okay, time to get down to business here.”
Brian: Yeah. That’s how you felt leading up to the event. I’m sure a lot of people felt that way too. You get to the event and for this GORUCK Selection 019 there was a ton of live coverage. GORUCK really used that Facebook Live feed to the max and it was just kind of funny watching from our end Jason’s phone heating up and shutting off because they’re putting out so much live video. You probably didn’t realize that because you were in the thick of it.
Alex: Yeah, I had no idea how extensive the coverage was. You couldn’t hear any of the commentary and so you could see obviously when I went back and watch the guys whispering and stuff. I couldn’t hear any of the commentary. Even, honestly, you’re so focused on what you’re doing and whatever. I could see some cameras around. I figured they were just maybe taking some picture, this or that, or some footage to put together later or something. I had no idea that they were doing the type of coverage that they were doing. I figured that it might had just been like one or two of the years pass where they gave decent update here and then every few hours. Yeah, no idea that it was all live like that and there were just thousands of people watching at all times.
Brian: That was pretty wild. My guess is that the majority of the listeners watched at least some part of the life feed, and so I’m going to put links in because I believe there’s still up on the GORUCK site for those who missed it. What were some of the most memorable moments from that GORUCK Selection event?
Alex: I mean probably to start, I know the live coverage wasn’t there yet, but I touched on this when Jason and I were talking afterwards. I failed the pushups the first time. It was so hot and my nerves were just at like a 15 and I was so mentally locked in and just started banging out these pushups that I literally didn’t even hear Ragnar being like, “Hey, you’re not counting reps essentially. You’re not locking out at the top,” because I was doing them just too fast. You get nervous, you start just — Basically, during training, it was like I would drop to the floor all the time throughout the year. If I couldn’t immediately bang out 80, 90, a hundred pushups in two minutes without stopping, I was like, “Uh-oh! I got to keep training harder.”
To do the pushup test and then just mishear him and then have to start over, which takes two minutes and everything and just totally tank it. I went and sat back down in line and I was like, “Oh, man!” Instantly, everything we just talked about, all that training for two years and prepping and everything. I said, “There is no way that I’m leaving here 10 minutes from now and going back and facing everyone and being like, “Oh, I just really screwed that up.” Obviously you get a retest. I retested, everything was fine, I’d been complaining more than I needed to. That was definitely like an, “Oh, shit! I can’t believe I just did that, or almost did that.” That was before the live coverage.
Once we got started the PT test, the rest of it was standard and the welcome party is always crazy. That’s such a blur. It’s hard to remember much from that. I guess besides that, when I was digging that whole with the shovel, thinking back on it when Mickey was like, “Hey, you’re stopping too much,” and he duct tape my hands to the shovel. That’s hilarious in retrospect. In the moment it was just like awkward, but that’s hilarious to think now. It’s really funny for me to go back and watch some of the footage and just laugh at either the things they’re saying or doing, because it’s absurd, of course. The whole situation out of context is absurd, but duct taping my hands to the shovel was definitely — I’ll probably never stop laughing about that, because it’s hilariously ridiculous.
Then, obviously, I’m such a water person as everyone found out during the event and stuff. The water evolutions with PD, it was super cool. For me, the water is the place of comfort where I feel most secure or comfortable, confident in my skills, whatever. Just being in a dead silence swamp in the middle of the night, seeing the stars, being completely physically beat down and exhausted, but just like swimming through the swamp was cool. I definitely will remember that well.
Brian: Yeah, I bet. There aren’t many people who get to do that.
Alex: Yeah, I mean BD said that afterwards. They’ve never done a water-based evolution like that or to that extent in Selection. That was cool. I guess the plan was to kind of see how the candidate, which was me in this case, how the candidate handled the water. Then when he could see how comfortable I was in the water, they just decided to just crank it a little bit, crank it, crank it, crank it. They ended up with that, so I guess that’s probably — They wouldn’t have went to that extent if it was the guy who was strong and doing really well, but not necessarily a water person. Yeah, that was definitely cool to do.
Brian: Yeah. After the event, you were surprisingly coherent. I remember watching your interview, and I don’t know why, but I was very surprised at how well you were articulating sentences. You could have told me that you just woke up and I would have believed it, that you looked that good afterwards. How are you feeling?
Alex: Yeah, it’s funny. A lot of people said that. They’re like, “Oh! Your interview was so coherent.” As far as what I looked like, I have to give credit to my girlfriend, Anna, because that — Mickey B, the medic, went out and bought a bunch of like antibacterial scrub soap and all the stuff I needed, the sling and all that and he basically pushed me into the outside shower and physically I couldn’t move. Everything was a bloody mess because of the silt and the rocks and sand that was — The sand that you get in brackish water, very high abrasive, whatever that’s in a swamp compared to a beach. I was just a disgusting bloody mess and I couldn’t move. Obviously, I had the issues with my shoulder. Anna was the one who like shoved me under the shower, got everything off of me, scrubbed me down and put my hair back and at least physically got me so I didn’t look like a swamp monster. That’s all her.
Then as far as the coherent part, I don’t know. I guess it’s the same as like when you’re so tired that you’re awake. I don’t know. I think I remember being like, “Okay, there’s a video interview. You just finish this thing and try not to sound like an idiot.” I don’ know, I might just have wired myself because after the shower it was like, “Hey, I sort of feel like a human being again.” At that point the pain hasn’t really set. You’re sore obviously, but you’re still like kind of riding that high. Yeah, I guess that’s probably why I seemed awake.
Brian: Let’s talk about your hair for a second.
Brian: For those who — Well, I guess even if you did wash the live coverage, you wouldn’t know this, but you have long hair. You have really long hair.
Alex: Yeah, it’s down —
Brian: Does it hit your waist?
Alex: Like stomach — No, it’s not quite waist level. Unfortunately, I’m getting older, so it doesn’t grow quite as fast as it used to. It’s like the middle of my stomach.
Brian: Okay. That’s still pretty long, and you had it pulled back the entire time.
Brian: How terrified were you that that was going to come off?
Alex: The level of prep I’ve put into that is hard to explain and that’s one of those things like all the girls, the female GRTs that are listening will understand, but there’s very few dudes listening that will really be able to grasp it, because when your hair is that long and you’re throwing a ruck on, like I give credit to any girl that leaves their hair even partially down during an event, because to me my hair has been long. I had crazy like punk metal looking hairstyle all in high school, but I started growing it out when I was like 18 and it’s just got longer and longer since then. I’m used to having long hair, but when it’s down and it’s wet and then you’re trying to put a ruck no or something like that and it’s all in the straps, because there’s literally like an extra foot or two feet of it that’s like curled around the straps and stuff. It’s awful. It’s an awful feeling when it’s wet and it’s tugging and pulling. I knew I was like I need to do something that’s going to keep it back and out of the way, because if it’s come down or — I heard about this at another — I think it was 015 where there was like a group of people all with long hair, a couple of females and they were just playing with it, playing with it in the ocean and it was like, “Oh, you guys are going to lose hair tie privileges.” I’m like, “If I got to deal with something like that, that’s —” It’s hard to describe how much more annoying that’s going to make everything. I said whatever I get to do, I just got to get it back and up and out of the way. I don’t want to think about it the whole event.
Yeah, I definitely practiced. Again, it’s only if you have long hair that you’re going to understand, but I practiced the type of bun I was going to use, how many hair ties and how I was going to put them up. It’s like you got to get it up and out of the way. Also, in case it loosens up and it starts to come apart, you got to be able to take it apart pretty easily like during a two minute rest and get it back up. Fortunately, it stayed up the way I had it. Yeah, I did put a comical amount of time into making sure that it’s going to be out of my way for the whole event.
Brian: It’s only comical now, because it didn’t come out. If it had come out, I bet you would have wished you had put more time and do it. It sounds like it all paid off.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, for anyone wondering, trying to keep it back during an event without using hair products, it’s going to just immediately come out in the water. I loaded it up with keratin spray, which is like the protein that’s in hair. It gets very sticky. Keratin spray and then I just gauzed it in coconut oil and then pulled it back. Yeah, any of the female GRTs that are trying to figure out the best way to do it, that’s what I did.
Brian: There you have it. GORUCK Selection 19, from my couch in my living room, as I watched on the TV, there were some parts that seemed — I don’t know if dangerous, but like at least scary. How did you feel during the event? Were there any times where you felt like you were in danger?
Alex: No, I don’t think so, because as brutal as it might seem that the cadre are being, and they are. It’s meant to weed people out, right? That’s the whole point. It’s like you are not prepared to this please quit and go home. You can tell that they’re watching like a hawk. Mickey B, who’s been a medic for the last two years, he’s watching like a hawk. They are constantly reminding you, like, “Hey, you drink water or you’re going to drop and have a serious medical issue.” Keep drinking water.
Yeah, you can tell as harsh as their being and as stern and as up to the standards of their being. You know those guys have your back. I stress this to people all the time with endurance events, not just GORUCK, but it is extremely important if you’re going to go do an event like this and put yourself out there 110%, that you have confidence in the people running the event. I’m not going to sign up for an event where I’m going to push myself past my limit and I could very easily pass out or drown or fall and hit my head or get lost out in the woods because I’m hallucinating and so sleep deprived. I’m not going to do that and put myself in that position unless I know that there’s competent staff running the event that essentially have my back, that even I they are the ones putting me through the ringer, when it comes down to it, they know that, “Hey, these guys are out here giving it their all and they’re paying attention.”
There’s a lot of copycat type of events that are out there, and I would just encourage people to do your research, make sure that you’re signing up for an event that’s ran by people who are either like in this case, where they’re all SF guys and they know exactly how to run a professional event, or it’s put on by veteran endurance athletes who have a long list of accomplishments themselves and understand medical issues that come up and have a team on standby to watch out for you. That way you can go into the event and not even think about your own safety basically, which maybe isn’t the best way to think, but that’s how I think.
If I go, “Yeah, this is a good event put on by good people,” I can just go in and put my all into the event and know that the staff has my back if something should happen to me while I’m out there. I think it’s the same thing with this. For me, I knew those guys were there. Ultimately, if a serious medical emergency went down, they’re going to be able to take care of me. I really had no concerns about anything that was going on during the event.
Brian: That’s great, and that’s almost how you have to look at it if you want to give something your all, otherwise you’re giving it 80% and you’re spending the other 20% worrying about safety or other concerns like that. That’s great advice.
Alex: That’s definitely it. Yeah. There are certain events where you’re way out there, so you have to be a little mindful of your safety. I did Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua and you’re like literally out on that volcano yourself. It’s like that kind of event. It’s more of an adventure race. Yeah, you have to be responsible a little bit for your own safety, but if it’s an event where you’re constantly under the watchful eye of a cadre or staff or whatever it might be, then, yeah, you should feel confident in the event you’re participating in and the people running it and just be able to throw everything you got into the event.
Brian: Before we talk about post event and the recovery process, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about GORUCK Selection 019?
Alex: No, I don’t think so. I think I’ve probably been rambling on for long enough. Certainly, do you have any other specific questions? I’d be happy to answer them. No, I don’t think I have anything particular to say. It was awesome and all of its terribleness. It was an awesome thing to experience and train for and take on. It was great.
Brian: Yeah, I don’t think we need to spend two hours describing the event, because there’s just so much live coverage footage out there that people can see it for themselves, everything that you endured.
Alex: I’ve been telling people especially like if they don’t want to go hunting or there’s so many people outside of the endurance community, people at work and all over who they ask questions. GORUCK’s got it on their site at like GORUCK Selection 019, the definitive edition. I went back to be able to look at it myself. That’s got like — You can get the gist of it if you’ve never seen it or you didn’t watch any of the stuff live. There’s enough stuff linked there. That’s good work.
Brian: How do you feel looking at that, looking at the definitive edition? Seeing all those hundreds of pictures that they’ve got on their site, they’ve got videos. Do you look at it and do you remember everything happening or is that kind of you’re looking at — When you look at pictures and you don’t quite remember it even occurring.
Alex: I don’t think there’s any picture I looked at where I said like, “Oh, I don’t remember that,” although it is funny. If I was sitting here and somebody was like, “Okay. Sit here and tell me exactly evolution by evolution of what happened and what you did and who is still there.” I’d probably have a ton of empty spots, because your brain is already in such overdrive to trying to force yourself to keep doing what you’re doing.
When I look through it in a timeline fashion with pictures, it’s very easy, because for me every picture you’re like — It’s almost like you go back in your brain to like that moment of pain. You’re like, “Oh, yeah. I recall that.” Looking at, it definitely keeps it all fresh. Probably, if I was forced to sit here and narrate it step by step or evolution by evolution as well as it does in the timeline like that.
Brian: Yeah, make’s sense. You know, like we said, the only way to give it 100% is to put it all in there so you can spend time trying to remember everything that’s going on. You just got to put out.
Brian: Post-event recovery. You mentioned briefly that during your interview, that was before the pain had set in. What’s the pain and how was that?
Alex: I expected it to be rough, but I have to say compared to last year where I’ve done half that amount of time at Selection or any other event that’s 40, 50, 60, 70 hour long, just how I felt after this just crushed all of those other event. It’s hard to overstate — It certainly ended up being nothing major. Certainly, people go through worst every day in horrible accidents and stuff, but as far as just, “Hey, I signed up for this event and I finished it.” My body was destroyed. As far as cuts and scrapes from that filthy sand, rocky, hard-packed dirt roads, stuff like that on a level as far as my skin, I was missing all the skin around the back, inside my neck, under my armpits where my pecs meet my arms and the strap is just all gone there. My arms are obviously heavily tattooed, but not that it would get own to a level where it messed the tattoos, because that would be like cutting off your skin with a knife. It’s not that deep. The ink is way lower, but I still have giant pink patches where all of the skin on the top layers is all just still growing back.
My legs, the bruises were hysterical, like huge, like I’ve never had before. Obviously, Mickey, he put me in a sling because we didn’t know what was going on with my shoulder, which I did end up going getting x-rays and getting examined. They came short of making me do an MRI, because they felt that it was fine after all the tests. It was just dead basically.
Yeah, my ankles, all the way from the knee down to my feet basically swelled up to such an extent that like I Converse all the time, and my Converse were — The laces were stretched out all the way to the ends of the laces to the fact that I couldn’t even tie them. My legs, my ankles were actually wider than the shoes themselves. It was like hilariously blown up. It made it extremely painful to walk, because I have my shoulders where I couldn’t change my own shirts, I couldn’t tie my hair back. Like I said, just even with the post-event shower, and I had to do everything for me.
We were on a trip obviously. She packed up all our stuff for both of us. She would help me shower, get me dressed, help me sit up in bed if I had to, which was like ones an hour. She drove us. She literally had to do everything for the both of us because I was useless for a couple of days afterwards, and still in strong pain for a week and a half after. Yeah, I was trashed. I had never been beat down like that before. Ohio, last year, doing half the event, I was able to drive myself home, and I drive a car that’s stick. I drove five speed all the way home from Ohio to New York. Stiff and sore and cuts and bruises and stuff, but it was nothing like it was this year. I was definitely destroyed.
Brian: Wow! That paints quite the picture.
Alex: Yeah. I don’t want to make it sound too dramatic. Like I said, people go through far worse things every day. Yeah, considering it was, “Hey, the event that I signed up for and just did and paid money for, yeah, I’ve never been beat down like that.” Mickey was awesome. Mickey checked in with me twice a day every day after the event to make sure, “Hey, I would try taking this. Do this instead. Change this method.” He’d checked in like a doc would and made recommendations and stuff. Yeah, it’s only in the last couple of days where I can really walk around comfortably and wear my ruck to work. I didn’t put the weight plate back in yet, but even my gear from work and stuff weighed something and just to be able to walk and not have like splitting headaches and stuff. Yeah, just in the last day or two, it’s finally like, “Okay, I’m starting to really feel normal again.”
Brian: It’s been a while since the event we’re recording this. We’re almost halfway through October.
Alex: Yeah, I think it will be three weeks on Saturday. I would put it easily at a two-week recovery time.
Brian: I think I know the answer to this question, but it’s so fun to ask. Was it all worth it?
Alex: Oh, yes. It was totally worth it. It was awesome and it’s awesome to — I love just that, just pushing yourself as hard as you absolutely can and really testing what you’re made out of, because it’s really easy especially with how big the endurance community has grown, whether it’s OCR or Endurance GORUCK or whatever. Really easy to do stuff that’s kind of hard and then stand back and look at your wall of patches or your rack full of race medals or whatever and be like, “Oh, wow! Look at all the stuff I did,” and you go on social media and people pat you on the back and stuff and it’s really easy to not truly test yourself and just be like, “Yeah, I’m doing awesome stuff.”
To take a leap of being like, “Okay, this is that next level thing, and I really have to put myself out there and give it all I’ve got.” That to me is very rewarding. I don’t want to end up in that point where you settle and you get comfortable and you’re like, “All right, this is my level.” It’s important to always push.
Brian: Yeah. I see that a lot.
Alex: Yeah and that doesn’t also mean, “Oh! I just started doing these events. Yeah, I got to push myself and sign up for Selection,” even you’re not at all ready. You know, that to me doesn’t make any sense either to just sign up for stuff that’s the hardest thing out there and then just fail miserably and just get used to failure. That’s no good either. You want to work up to it so that — Everybody has a DNS now and then, or everybody failed something. You have to fail something every once in a while because then you know that you’re pushing yourself hard enough. I never want to get to the other point where it’s just like you’re failing everything and you’re signing up for just everything that you’re not ready for and trying to speed through the test. We sign up for all hard stuff, hundred mile races or major events, like Selection and people pat you on the back, “Oh, yeah. You signed up. Good for you.” But then you fail all of them and you just get used to failure. That’s no good either. Earn your way up the ladder, but always reach for the next rung I guess would be the way to put it.
Brian: I like that. I like that, and I think both the OCR community and GORUCK have enough rungs now where you can make that possible.
Alex: Yeah. There’s a good half that’s just — If you want to conquer the hardest stuff that’s out there, all these various disciplines offer. There’s a task there. There are tons of material of how to train and how to prepare and put in the work. Start small and train hard and just get better and better, and especially something like GORUCK where there are team events, like don’t train for a Heavy to just make it through it. You can pick an event where it’s a really big event and gray man your way through and be like, “Oh, yeah. I did it.” That’s not rewarding. Rewarding is knowing that you trained the hardest you could train for that event to be that strongest team member that you could be to be a crotch for somebody else, if maybe they get injured or they’re having a hard low moment or something like that. Train the hardest you can for that event so that you crush it and you can be as strong as you can be for it. Then when you really have mastered that event, then move on to the next thing and challenge yourself that way. Don’t scape by.
Brian: Absolutely. Speaking of training advice, I think you’ve got an interesting perspective on this, because you can give both types of advice. What advice do you have for people who have attempted selection and didn’t complete it and are considering giving it another shot?
Alex: That’s a hard one, because I think it depends on each particular person. Some people just don’t have any time under the ruck. They might be really strong and fit and well-equipped to kind of handle all the different like neat stuff, but they’re just not used to rucking. You know what I mean? Whatever you want to call it, even though if you want to use the word boring, like just miles and miles. They’re just not used to being underweight. Even if they could exercise really good or train really hard, they just don’t have the time under the ruck.
Other people have done a ton of rucking and they’ve done hundreds and hundreds of miles with lots of weight and they could just walk for days-on-end with weight on their back, but they haven’t maybe lifted or they don’t understand the way to properly do, not body weight movements, but movements that are almost like a replication of lifting. Those sandbag workouts, if you don’t know how to clean a bar and suddenly 15 hours into one of the hardest events out there, they’re like, “Okay. Take this 80-pound sandbag that’s now wet and loser to a hundred bag and press clean it for the next two hours or three hours and you don’t even understand the mechanics of a clean, that’s going to be rough on you.
It depends. I guess probably the biggest thing is whatever you’re not good at or whatever killed you at Selection, don’t necessarily just focus on that same, that one type of exercise, but really look at it and just go, “Okay. What was the overall fitness discipline that I failed at,” and train that way harder than the other stuff that you know you can do well.
Brian: That’s really good advice. I haven’t attempted Selection, but, personally, my training, even if I’m doing it half an hour or an hour-long sandbag workout, I find myself drifting towards exercises that I like. I absolutely hate sandbag overhead squats.
Alex: I don’t know what maniac would like those. I guess there’s somebody out there.
Brian: Yeah, that’s my nemesis. I can do an hour-long workout and not put any of them in there just because I hate them that much. I think that’s great advice that to pass Selection you can’t do that.
Alex: You have to train what you’re bad at. That’s the same thing with — You could look at a million different disciplines or professions or sports or whatever, if a guy is a good runner, of course he’s going to do a lot of running workouts, because it’s satisfying, it feels good. It makes them happy. If a guy is just a meat-head purely and hates cardio, he’s going to do all lifting stuff. People gravitate towards what they’re good at. I think that’s an important thing if you want to be the all-around, well-rounded person for something like Selection. You have to focus on what you’re not good at.
Brian: Absolutely. Bridging from that, is there any additional advice that you’d have for someone who’s never attempted Selection but is considering signing up after seeing the live feed and watching your completion?
Alex: Yeah, I guess that’s probably — I don’t know if it’s a cheap answer, but it’s probably the same thing. It’s probably like really understand what your weak points are, because I heard Stoney say this before, and he’s absolutely right. Live feeds have a hilarious tendency to make people feel that, it’s like, “Oh, I could definitely do that,” because when it’s a blackout event and you don’t see much of what’s going on, you just see the dude who’s bloodied and destroyed at the end, you’ll be like, “Oh, that’s gnarly.” But it’s terrifying. Who knows what they had that guy do? It’s scary, because it’s so unknown.
When they broadcast the whole thing and you can sit there — We never used to be able to do that. When you can literally sit there and watch three-quarters of the event live video, it gives you this false sense of security of like, “Oh, I’ve done all that stuff before. I’ve done sandbag workouts and I’ve ran and I’ve rucked and I can totally do all that stuff. I’m going to sign up and I’ll just train a little more than I usually do, and this will be great.”
I don’t want to be negative, but there’s just people who, “I’ll just do a little more than usual,” and you’re like, “Man, those people are going to get so crushed if they even make it out of the PT test.” It’s the same thing. It’s like you got to put down the video for a second, put down the social media. Read some of the AERs, the older ones, the real meat and potatoes of what somebody’s past finishers have said and really understand that these are the guys that finished and they’re all saying, “Hey, you got to commit to this like you’ve never committed to anything.” Almost every finisher had said, like, “This becomes your life for at least six months before.”
If you don’t want it that bad and you’re not training that hard, you’re just not going to make it. The statistics just show, you don’t stand a chance. You have to think about every aspect and eliminate as many variables as you can. Right off the bad, one of the things that we’d hear people talking about is their feet, right? They’re like — They want like the magical sock and cream combination that’s going to save them from any blisters.
To me, I watch people going out on practice rucks and they’re putting on — I’m not going to use any brand names, but they’re putting on all these creams and they’re putting on liner socks and thick socks and boots and like all these stuff. Most of my practice rucks of any sort, whether it’s do it from work or just out and about or whatever, I can tell you did a really old Converse with holes in the bottom wearing socks with holes in them and I stepped in all the puddles I could find and I did that day after day after day literally for years, rucking in Converse with holes in them while they’re wet. That is what protects my feet.
When I do an event, I have a certain way that I prep my feet, but they’re already so toughed up from just rucking in Converse that I would never think about, “Oh, I’m going for a half hour practice ruck, so let me go through a half-hour procedure to prep my feet.” That’s just crazy. You have to train not as your body, but stuff like that. Think about those kinds of things and train that constantly everyday if you wanted to perform what you needed to perform.
Brian: Yeah. I think that hits a few different parts. For one, at GORUCK Selection or some of the more difficult GORUCK events, you don’t always have the time to apply all that stuff to your feet.
Alex: I can tell you, I have very good luck at events, because I train my feet in Converse all the time. I don’t have many problems at all. When I put on boots and Vaseline and stocks from the whole set up that I do, I’m like, “Well, I’m walking on clouds, and I can do a heavy and not even have to change my socks.” I’m just like, “Yes, my feet are totally fine at the end of the Heavy.”
Yeah, the first night it was good. The second day, it was going well. I can tell you, because I was so amped up and ready to go for the long walk. I didn’t do any foot prep in between those seven hours of swimming with BD and then whatever evolutions were after that, and then the long walk. I literally went into the long walk with like destroyed feet. I started it, which was stupid, and that was definitely a lapse of mental judgment at that point. Cody pointed that out, like, “I gave you time for that and you didn’t take it.” My fault.
Anyway. Yeah, I mean, there’s going to be stuff you have to grunt out. I had to grunt that out. My feet were pretty trashed after that. Overall, I got through that, because they were prepped for that. They were doing great up until that point, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Brian: Yeah. There’s nothing saying that you’re going to show up and you get to use your own shoes. For all you know, you’re going to show up to Selection and they’re going to have 200 pairs of whatever, Saucony’s there in different sizes and you have to put those on and do the whole event in those shoes.
Alex: Yeah. Selection, what I liked about it that’s different from some of the other events is it didn’t have that wacky, zany, let’s see how crazy we can make this. It’s standard. Everyone gets the same stuff essentially with the list. You’re going purely based of your training and your performance. Yes, you’re absolutely right. People, they worry way too much about the little tiny details. We’re a year out and they’re just like, “What brand of like middle sock did you have and stuff?” It’s like, “Hey, man. Why don’t you be able to do on your pushups at a moment’s notice no matter when first, or worry about that stuff first and then start to dial in your gear if you ramp your training up?” Get the commitment down physically first.
Brian: Yeah. I mean that makes perfect sense. My rucking shoes right now are a pair of Brooks running shoes that have over a thousand miles on them. I think they’ve got like 1,200 on them. They’re just beat, old running shoes. I did back to back Toughs in them. They are what they are you can’t really purchase your way to completing some of these events.
Alex: Yes, definitely not. I literally — I do a lot of barefoot funning. I don’t like that huge heel-toe rise even in my running shoes and stuff. Yeah, my running shoes, I didn’t even want to change them from last year, because of like a funny sentimental thing. They’re like the New Balance trail shoes that have a zero drop. They’re practically putting on like ballet slippers. There’s nothing to them and they have holes in them, and I run in them without socks. They’re like nothing.
Yeah, when I’m like, “Oh, I can’t wear these, because I got a to ruck and be able to support some weigh, I put on my Converse which are full of holes. Yeah, do it rucky style. Just worry about the physical stuff and not the fancy equipment. Dial in your gear and get used to it and train with it, but worry about yourself and your physical fitness first.
Brian: Absolutely. We’re only — What? Three weeks from this event. Have you started looking towards the future, what’s the next event for you?
Alex: I haven’t picked out anything typically of like, “Oh, this or that.” There’s a few events that kind of live in that same realm of someone like the bigger tier events. I haven’t really figured out a schedule yet. I know I definitely missed obstacle course racing this year. Last year I got to do races in the first half of the year. I knocked out Spartan Delta and I did like an Ultra Beast stuff in Montreal and some miscellaneous other OCRs and trail running and Ultra Marathons and stuff. This year I did very little, because I didn’t want to get injured. I knew it was like my year.
As anxious as I am to get back to that and have another season where I just run elite and try and do as best as I can leaving up to OCR World Championships. I don’t think that’s going to be next year, because I haven’t had a fall or like a late summer fall to myself now in four or five years, because of just all various events. I might do a couple fun, maybe run elite to see how I’m doing obstacle-wise and stuff.
Still fun OCR and maybe one or two bigger events, just have a good time with it. I don’t think next year is going to be a very serious season. I’m not going to be going for points or anything like that. Yeah, I haven’t picked out anything specific. I think for the winter it’s just going to be get back into lifting, get some of my strength back after this long recovery and see where I’m at in the spring. See what I want to do and train for.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t run many OCRs, but I do listening to OCR podcast. There’s quite the selection out there now.
Alex: I like stuff that’s on mountains and through woods, especially whether it’s an early Heat and there’s not many people out, or a later Heat where there’s not many people out. There’s nothing like just flying through the woods recklessly on a cold morning or whatever it might be, a rainy day or something. Yeah, I like just being out in nature. That’s part of why I like OCR so much.
Brian: That’s great. It takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to train for an event like this. Obviously, you’ve given Anna a couple of shout outs so far, but is there anyone or groups of people that you want to give a shout out to or thanks to?
Alex: Yeah. My parents and my family gave me a ton of support. They’re all about it. I think my mom always does like the one handed horror movie watch of like hand over the face and stuff, like, “Oh, I can’t believe you keep doing this to me, but I’m proud of you,” sort of thing. I’m sure that the live feeds were painful for her to watch. My family is super supporting.
Like I said, Anna has been amazing through the whole thing. Early morning workouts, canceled dates, cancelled plans, “I’m training. Yup, no, I can’t drink. I can’t this or that.” She’s been amazing. All my friends, supper supportive. People, especially our group. Like I said, that does all kinds of camping around OCR and trips and hikes and adventures. I love those guys. Even though they’re — We always do a big Labor Day camping trip. We know they’re all partying and drinking and whatever. They all understand what I was doing two years and even before that for elite races and stuff. They’re all just super supporting of it. They’re stoked.
Certainly, everyone that’s fall along and shouted out encouraging stuff while they’re watching the live feeds. That was super cool to see. It’s always fun with Selection, whether it’s me or somebody else. It’s always fun to watch the whole community end up kind of rallying behind the last couple of people that are left and really pushing for someone to finish. That’s always great.
Also, my job. They’re super cool. We’re a small company that’s just growing at a huge rate, and we have a ton of work and they’re like super supporting of how much training I do and the fact that I’ll give it 150% when I’m at work, but then when I leave it, training is super important and my meal prep and eating and schedules like that are important. My job has been super awesome about it as well. A bunch of them were all following along when the live feed was out there.
Yeah, just everybody, trying to surround myself with people that are pushing themselves and doing good stuff and having a positive outlook. I’d say everybody around me has been really positive about it, really cool.
Brian: That’s awesome. A great thing to do is surround yourself with people who want you to be a better person and make you want to be a better person and more successful.
Alex: Yeah, it’s amazing. You surround yourself with people that are doing better than you or working harder or accomplishing things. It’s amazing how much that pushes you to then want to work harder and accomplish more and do better things, like you’d surround yourself with. Yeah, I think that’s very important and that’s definitely something that I’ve seen tenfold and the more positivity is out there and just people encouraging each other and killing balls and crushing life, that just makes you want to work that much harder and be that much better.
Brian: Absolutely. Alex, thank you so much, man, for just taking a ton of time out of your evening to chat with me. I know this is late for you and, man, I truly appreciate this. It’s been a ton of fun for me. Thank you, thank you so much.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely, man. Thank you for having me on. Yeah, certainly. It’s way past my bedtime with how it’s been recently. I’ve been calling in now hours before. Yeah, it’s funny that I’m — Same thing, I guess, still coherent. Yeah, I appreciate it very much. Thanks for having me on.
Brian: Absolutely, man. Take care.