What happens if you’ve never been truly challenged in life? What if you’ve never had to face a severe illness, tragedy, death, or war? How do you know that you have the mental toughness to overcome adversity and persevere no matter what the circumstances?
Today’s guest is Brad Ritter. He was a successful guy who had all the ingredients of a perfect life—a good job, a beautiful home, and a great family. But one day he looked himself in the mirror and asked, “Who am I? What do I really want in life?”
Brad talks about how he put himself through SEALFIT Kokoro training, the world’s premier event for forging mental toughness. This experience forced him to meet himself for the first time. He now knows what he’s truly made of and that he can handle any challenge that comes his way.
Do hard shit. Do something that scares you.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 38 years old, married for almost 12 years and we have two kids a girl and a boy who are 7 and 4. I found SGPT while training for SEALFIT Kokoro camp almost 3 years ago.
Did you have an athletic background growing up?
Yes, I played baseball and basketball growing up and then focused on baseball in high school. I could have played in college but got burnt out and decided to forgo any type of athletic scholarship for college. I’ve always and will continue to be an athlete in some capacity and like pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Tell us about the event.
On Friday April 7th, 2018 I took part in the GoRuck Ruck Tough, Bataan Death March. This was my first GoRuck event and I signed up for it because I knew it would challenge me mentally and physically. The party started at 9:00 pm on a Friday and ended around 8:00 am the next day. We ended up rucking all around downtown Indianapolis for a total of 23 miles while carrying our rucks (mine weighed 45# with water) and 3 team weights consisting of 3 sandbags that weighed anywhere from 25 – 45 pounds and one American Flag.
What was the hardest part for you?
No doubt about it…the cold weather. The temp was 22 degrees, wind-chill of 15 and the wind was blowing around 20mph. It even snowed on us! The cadre took full advantage of the weather and would make us ruck between 3-5 miles at a time and then sit for 10-15 minutes so that our sweat would turn cold and the uncontrollable shivering would commence.
What felt like it was the easiest?
Strangely enough, the rucking was the easiest part. I ruck a lot at home and have gone over 25 miles before so that wasn’t new to me. Walking or running under load is in my wheel house and when it’s that cold outside all you want to do is move. Standing or sitting in one place is your enemy.
Was there a moment you felt like quitting? How did you talk yourself out of it?
At one point, yes. I was just so tired of being cold. At around 7 am we stopped by the local fire station and washed their vehicles. It was so damn warm and toasty and the firefighters were drinking coffee, eating, etc. I knew that we’d only be in there about 30 min or so and when we were done we immediately went back in to the cold and I knew we had another 5 miles to go to reach our destination. The last miles seemed like they took forever but I was able to make it through by talking to the folks around me and taking my mind off of myself and putting in on others. Taking the 30 minute break in the warmth of a garage and then going right back out into the cold, nasty environment when your legs are tight was not fun at all.
How did you stay motivated throughout the race?
Having secured SEALFIT Kokoro camp number 38 a couple years prior that was and still is by far the hardest training I’d ever been through. I just kept saying to myself that it could be worse and like I mentioned above, when I started feeling my own pity party coming on I would try to help out my teammates. By focusing your energy on other people you’ll naturally forget about your own issues.
How did you train?
I primarily used a method of strength training for 2-3 days in a row and then doing a LSD type of movement after. I try to train everyday but I usually make it 5-6 times a week so the program looks something like this:
2-3 days of a strength movement (bench, push press, deadlift, front squat, back squat), followed by some muscle isolation and then a WOD that usually lasts around 20 minutes. If I have time, then I’d do some running after
For my LSD (long slow distance) I’d either run, ruck, row, or bike for some active recovery for about an hour.
What would you have done differently?
I would have selected different gear. I froze my ass off. I would have worn a warmer shelled jacket instead of the basic wind breaker I was wearing which was very light. Also, I was wearing Mechanix gloves and instead I probably would have alternated between basic cotton and ski glove during different portions of the night. I also would have worn thicker boots or shoes instead of the lightweight ones I was using. A scarf or a hoodie would have been a great idea as well.
How did you recover afterwards?
I did some active stretching but the best thing I tried out for the first time was cryotherapy. My legs were very tight, so I went into a cryo chamber for 3 min at -260 degrees and they used their compression leggings for a 30 minutes session. Afterward, I was back to normal.
What’s your next goal?
I’ve got the Indianapolis Mini Marathon coming up on May 5th. My buddies and I will ruck-run the 13.1 miles and try to beat our time last year of 2.5 hours with about 40#
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