Interview with Heather Self GORUCK Light Graduate

goruck light heather self thumbnailSGPT: Tell us about yourself?

HS: My name is Heather Curry Self and I’ve been working with Brad McLeod (SEALgrinderPT) for a few years now; he was my 40th birthday present to myself for training. I’m an avid writer, and I have just recently published my second novel.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

DC: Not really. Other than the tree climbing I did, I played some tennis and rode my bike everywhere–including to and from school–in Corvallis, OR where I grew up. We lived at the top of an enormous hill, and I used to compete with myself by riding up it fast with my schoolbooks in my backpack or strapped to the bookrack on back. Sometimes I’d purposely take the steeper way up the hill, as well as the longer, shallower route up the back. I was so excited the first time I finally made it up that hill without stopping.


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SGPT: How did you train for the GORUCK event?

HS: I didn’t. I’ve been injured for most of the last two years, first with my elbow, then with a pinched nerve in my back. I have a terrible time telling the difference between whining body pain and actual “Please stop NOW”, and I ran myself into the back injury. For the last year or so all I’ve been able to do is walk and yoga. I heard about this particular GORUCK event ten days before it occurred, so I had basically zero time to train. I essentially rolled off the couch and into the event.

SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?

HS: It was a GoRuck Light in Portland, Oregon and was also in combination with an Ingress game–basically a combination of two teams playing geotagging/digital capture the flag. I was somewhat lost on how the game was played as I’d never done it before and was focused on the physicality of it. We’ve got a lot of hills here, and halfway through it, I became in charge of pushing a fellow in a wheelchair up and down and around our hilly downtown (it was a different GoRuck event than usual because of Ingress; he was there for that part of it as were most of the other participants. I was so proud of them all for sticking with it.)

But pushing him around meant I was pushing his weight, the chair’s weight, the weight of his ruck hanging from the back of his chair, and my 20lb ruck he carried on his lap. That was a lot of work–but a lot of fun.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

HS: Actually, I found it all pretty easy because I put my mind in gear before the event that I’d be fine, even without the training. I decided ahead of time I wasn’t even going to consider quitting, and I didn’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard–it was. But it’s all up in the noggin for how you frame it. I can say that the *grossest* part (and funniest) was when we went into the Willamette River for water push-ups. The river is fairly polluted (it caught fire at one point by the industrial area) and the silt slipping between my fingers was disgusting (one fellow almost put his hand on a broken beer glass…!) Plus I had a piece of nylon rope snaking its way up the leg of my shorts.
(Or perhaps that was the best part of it all. Ha!)

SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for GoRuck?

HS: Had more time to train. Also, lose some weight to make it easier. My few years of not being as physically active as I’m used to has caused me tot put on more weight than I’d prefer, and that meant that much more to carry around, plus a heavier ruck.
Still, it was loads of fun, even though I could barely waddle for about four days. Thank goodness for the “CrossFit assistant bars” in the bathroom at work!

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do GORUCK?

HS: Get your mind in gear ahead of time about how you’re going to perform. That whole 80/20 or even 90/10 percent of mental/physical is absolutely true.

If you doubt yourself going in, those doubts are going to take hold and grow like a tropical fungus on steroids in your thoughts. I decided I wasn’t going to let my lack of training get in the way of having fun, and I didn’t. This makes it so much easier to brush away the times you might consider quitting–instead of becoming something you actually lean towards, it becomes more like something you’re trying on for size to see if it fits.

If you get your mind set ahead of time, when your thoughts do dart there, you’ll find the desire for the follow-through doesn’t fit at all.

SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?

HS: I wore Asic running shoes, which were fine until they got wet. My feet are still peeling. I never had a chance to put on dry socks. Someone suggested Vibrams for the next time, and I might go that route. If I ever do a longer event, boots would better.

SGPT: Did you use double socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?

HS: I doubled my socks. I said above my feet are still peeling, but I can’t really say they were from blisters as they never hurt. I used a bamboo fiber liner sock and then a pair of Smartwool athletic socks, plus something called leukotape which is thin and very sticky. Prior to the event I put some on where I tend to get blisters and didn’t get any. I think the resulting peeling came from the wetness. I didn’t even realize my soles were doing that until about a week after the event.

SGPT: What kind of ruck did you use for training and the event?

HS: I used a High Sierra day pack ruck and it majorly sucked. I had to relinquish it twice. It’s not designed for this kind of event, even though I did train with it last year. I’m going to look into getting something else that has better straps and better weight distribution.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

HS: I just finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. I think my next book will be 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I haven’t had time for pleasure reading for the last two years as I’ve been writing!

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

HS: You’re most welcome! Thank you!