BY JENNIFER LEE
Team Assessment is hard. It’s going to challenge you, your teammate, and your ability to work together. Everyone will probably think about quitting at least once during the event. Pick a teammate who is able to fight through that temptation, and help you fight through as well when it comes. Pick a teammate who has put in the work, and who will continue to put in the work, to be as prepared as they can be for the physical and mental challenges that the event will bring. Pick a teammate who is good to work with, who can stay calm and focused in the midst of stress, and who is able to push themselves and you through difficult challenges.
It certainly helps if you already know your prospective partner, and have seen them in action during high points and low points at multiple events. If this is not the case, if you know that your partner is at least physically prepared, you can plan to do an event with them prior to Team Assessment to get a better understanding of how they operate in those physically and mentally demanding conditions. If you aren’t able to do that, don’t fret - it’s still possible to have great long-distance partnerships as long as you communicate well and regularly. We had successful womens’ teams in all three scenarios in 2020.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PARTNER / POTENTIAL PARTNER
- What is your goal for this event? If it’s one person’s goal to win, and another person’s goal to finish or just show up and see how far they can get, then you may need to reconsider the match, because of the preparation and will that it takes to do one vs. the other is drastically different, and to a point, even the more motivated person’s strengths may not be able to overcome the other person’s lower level of readiness.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses, and what is your current fitness level (based on stats like the Timed 12 and the PT test)?
- What are you willing to do to prepare for the event, and what is your training plan for which I can keep you accountable? Are you able to meet to train in person? Will you have regular chats about training progress? What are your weaknesses, and what do you plan to do to address them leading up to the event?
- What are injuries, pre-existing medical conditions, or risks to training or readiness that I need to know about? That will help me assess the risk, and if we do partner up, it will help me know what to help you monitor and compensate for.
- What’s a sign that you’re struggling, and what’s most helpful to you for getting out of rough patches? They may just want you to be quiet and let them focus. They may want you to help them get fired up about beating the competition. They may want to hear jokes or something else that keeps their mind off of the discomfort.
- What has been the hardest part of some difficult events that you’ve done in the past? What was the best part of some difficult events that you’ve done in the past? Understanding the answers from your partner will help you know how to help them find motivation during the event.
- What scares you about this event? What excites you about this event?
- How do you want to approach the event, strategically? Examples: Aggressive from the start, steady and sustainable, etc. You’ll want to be aligned on the strategy, otherwise, you could have conflicts arise during the event.
- What’s your why?
- What else should I know about you?
HOW TO TRAIN
Even if you and your partner are not following the same training program, be aware of key stats for each other. You don’t want these to be a surprise. Know each other’s slick running times, Timed 12 miler, and PT test results. At a minimum, you should be able to prove your PT test readiness to your partner, and they should be able to do the same for you. If you can’t physically meet, record yourselves completing the PT test on video, so that you can validate each other’s form. Don’t take their word for it on rep counts. You don’t want to go out or have a strike within the first hour of the event, for the most predictable and easy part of the event.
If your teammate is struggling with something, do everything you can to help them improve, because your success depends on them. This can involve asking uncomfortable questions, but they need accountability. It’s a two-way street, too. If you need help, be vocal and transparent about it. Share tips on gear. Keep each other accountable for practicing ruck dumps. Keep each other accountable on nutrition, sleep, mobility work, and not overtraining.
It’s very helpful to watch previous years’ coverage of Team Assessment in the GORUCK Tough page. See what kinds of tasks the participants had to do. There are only so many possible variations of carrying heavy objects, so you can plan for it to a large extent. Some things can be trained for independently, but others require coordination. It’s helpful to practice those kinds of tasks in-person. How would your team have approached that task? Practice carrying buckets, logs, or litter-like objects together in different ways. Figure out what techniques work best based on your relative sizes, and based on your individual strengths. Figure out what kinds of break plans or transition plans/coupon swap plans and techniques work best for you. Meeting and practicing these things is a major confidence booster, as it also helps you visualize what you’ll be doing at the event, and you can visualize success.
We asked other Team Assessment teammates to tell us what their experience was like finding a teammate. Casey Hubbard contributed her story:
"Enough time has passed from TA that I can reflect on the experience and not get emotional. Initially, I signed up for TA not having a partner in mind. I tend to be a lone wolf and train alone. I trusted the right person would come along.
Through the GORUCK Badass Babes Facebook group, I had developed friendships with other women across the country who train at a harder level. Earlier in the year, I had started talking with Virginia Nickelson as I was training for a 9-11 HTL. We had a lot in common and both goal-focused. We shared training tips and were battle buddies encouraging each other through that process. So fast forward to signing up for TA... I was super excited and posted in the Badass Babes Facebook group that I signed up and needed a teammate. Immediately Virginia messaged me saying she wanted to take on this big goal with me. It was a done deal, we both were dedicated to this long-term goal of competing at TA and committed to training together virtually. As time progressed we lined our training plans up so that we were in sync. We talked daily about training and life. Our personalities and strengths carried us through a season of ups and downs. When we met in Ohio it was our first in-person meeting. I wouldn’t have done it with anyone else.
So I encourage you to not let distance hinder you from a teammate. It is most important to find a person who is committed and will not quit. TA is unlike any event GORUCK hosts and requires teammates to form a union of sorts, committed to each other and to completion. I have been asked about physical differences as I am 5’10 and Virginia was 5’4. Our strengths complemented each other and our tenacity benefited us. So don’t let that hinder you either. I hope that as you read this post you understand it is about commitment to each other above all else.
It will get hard and you might have a weak moment. You will need that person beside you who is committed and knows you well enough to help you fight past those dark moments. The sun will come up and finishing something epic together will last a lifetime."