COMPETE: Dealing with Setbacks

This blog post was written by Virginia Nickelson F-07 Women's Division GORUCK Team Assessment 2020 and PATHFINDER Compete Roster.


So you finish and HTL and think you are ready to sign up for Team Assessment!


Then you get some bad news.

Turns out that during the beat down by Cadre Michael (aka Hot Mike) something went wrong. You have a pinched nerve in your shoulder and are out of rucking for over a month.

Yeah, this is how I started to train for team assessment. I found a partner and we agreed to do all we could to train up for it right before Halloween 2019. I had just finished the 9-11 HTL and was set to go to Lake Tahoe and do the World Championship Spartan Ultra but something in my right shoulder wasn’t quite right. I had numbness and tingling down my arm at times. I knew something was wrong but it took some time between a very patient doctor and sports massage therapist to figure it all out.

Let’s face it.

Setbacks are a part of life. In training for almost any goal, something is bound to happen that throws everything off track. This could range from family issues that come up, an injury or strain, overtraining, or most anything else you can think of. The key is how do you deal with it?

Through the course of 10 months of training, I had my share of ups and downs. Starting off training with not really being able to ruck or do a full pushup was humbling, to say the least. Getting physical therapy treatment a couple of times a week where movements were watched and modified to help me get stronger all while letting my shoulder heal seriously tested my patience. 

The key thing in all of this for me was having that close circle of people I could talk to. My teammate knew all the time what I was dealing with and how it was affecting daily training. I didn’t hide things at all and we talked about it just as facts. There was no blame, just trying to make the best of the situation.

More Setbacks

Other than the shoulder issue I had things happen with my hip flexor. It would tighten up to the point that I wanted to say screw all of this. I wanted to give up because this was now affecting my family life, not just training. 

The last setback happened 6 weeks prior to TA. I had just gotten back into a real gym and for the first time in 6 months was doing deadlifts. I thought I was being careful but something went horribly wrong. I felt a pop in my left low back and that was the first time I was in sheer panic mode. The pain made it so I couldn’t even pick up 20lbs off the floor. Not exactly what you need going into TA.

This is where that close group of people came into play. Being honest with my teammate. We had planned for me to do the squat cleans with the 80lb bag but at that point, we pulled it. I actually didn’t do a single squat clean for a month to let things heal. Then there was working with my chiropractor and sports massage therapist. To say the least, these appointments sucked. But luckily 2 weeks out after a lot of rest and patience I was back.

In closing I guess all I can say is training for TA will test you. There will be setbacks but that’s just how things are. If things were perfect all the time the end result wouldn’t be worth it.

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