BY SHANNON BASS & JENNIFER LEE
Training for Team Assessment is a long process. For some people, it’s the culmination of years of training and a gradual progression of events. For others, it’s a very focused period of time with this one event as a goal. For a few, it’s their first GORUCK event after experience in other endurance disciplines. Regardless, it’s not something one should attempt casually, without appropriate preparation.
What things should one consider as prep for TA? We identified important topics that will be skimmed here but addressed more as we progress through this Class.
- Staying Injury Free
- Progress to Event Ruck and Sandbag Weight
- Do Not Over Train
- Back to Back Training Days Have Value
- Nutrition and Sleep Are Key to Peak Performance
- Sandbags, Sandbags, Sandbags
- Grip Strength Work
- Overhead Work
- Mentally Prepare for THE HILL
- Taper Appropriately
Stay Injury Free
While your training should push you, it should not result in injury. Think of an injury like a crack in a plank of wood. You know that plank is going to undergo great physical stress during the event, and the crack is going to limit what the plank is able to do, or the crack is going to grow significantly during the event. Don't go in with any cracks. It’s better to go in with less strength than go in with an injury.
We all have stories about a training event that put us out of the fight for a few days or longer. Mine is excessive bear crawls that made my wrists really sore. I know I did not get enough benefit from those bear crawls to make up for the time lost to the minor injury. I even knew I was hurting my wrists when I did it! We need to know when to say when. Think about the minimum effective dose. Do enough to have your technique down and to have some confidence, but don't feel like you need to do a mile of XYZ (ex: OH holds) just because you may do that at an event. For movements that might result in injury, save it for the event when it counts, or practice with lower weight in training.
Progress to Event Ruck and Sandbag Weight
If you are not at your division’s ruck weight, let us know and we will create a schedule to get you there. If you are not comfortable with your division’s sandbag clean weights, same, let us know! For Open division, you will do most of the event with a combination of 60 and 80-pound sandbags. The female division will see 60 and 40-pound sandbags. You should be comfortable lifting and moving the top weights for your division quite easily.
Do Not Overtrain
Why do we overtrain? Because working hard and feeling sore and tired give us confidence. While we absolutely want you to work hard, and sometimes you will certainly be sore and tired, over-training will only hurt you. If getting out of bed is always horrible, you do not look forward to any workout, and every day you are very sore, you might be over-training.
Back to Back Training Days Have Value
While we will absolutely be talking about rest days, there are a few times we will recommend two hard training days back to back. This strategy is used in the ultra running community as a way to train you to work on tired muscles, but with a decreased chance of injury compared to one super long training event.
Nutrition and Sleep Are Key to Peak Performance
If you are working out, but not fueling your body, then you are not getting the maximum benefits from your efforts. Nutrition and sleep are JUST AS IMPORTANT as your workouts. We will repeat: nutrition and sleep are JUST AS IMPORTANT as your workouts.
Sandbags, Sandbags, Sandbags
At TA you will almost always have a ruck on your back and a sandbag on your body. In training, you should always have a ruck on your back and be using a sandbag. Gloves are an essential gear item, and since we train like we fight, you should be training with your gloves.
Grip Strength Work
Farmer carries will be part of TA, and litter carries will be part of TA. Practicing grip strength and being prepared for these evolutions will help you stay calm and get ahead of your competition. Straps can be used, and we will talk about options for straps at TA.
It is well known that one of Jason’s favorite phrases is “get your ruck overhead and find the bottom of a squat.” We will help you get comfortable standing up with your ruck overhead, elbows locked, shoulders relaxed, core engaged, pelvis slightly tucked, knees slightly bent, feet equally balanced. Your breath will be even and calm. We will talk about strategies for the overhead ruck squat, and how to take the pressure off your shoulders and hips with small changes in stance.
Mentally Prepare for THE HILL
When a hill has three named rest stops, you know it’s a bad one. Doug Scherwin calls it Winner’s Hill, and that’s how you should think of it. If you keep going up the hill, you will finish Team Assessment. We will physically prepare you by doing hill repeats. We will mentally prepare you by helping you know it’s there, and not be surprised.
For most participants, Team Assessment will be the hardest physical challenge they have faced. The volume of work is very high, and there is no big team to share it with, just you and your partner. You must come into the event well-rested and injury-free. For this, a good taper is required. We will talk about how to taper, but stay fluid and loose. We will reassure you that “the hay is in the barn.” You will not lose any strength, but will actually show up more prepared.