Jarie Bolander’s Kokoro Experience

bolanderA Guest Post by Jarie Bolander
A lot of amateur athletes struggle with whether or not to hire a coach. I was no different until I decided to attempt SEALFIT’s Kokoro Camp. Kokoro Camp is a 48+ hour team endurance event that is designed to “Meet Yourself for the First Time”. It’s run by a coaching staff of SEALs with over 125 cumulative years of Special Warfare experience along with a wide variety of coaches from cross-fit and professional athletics.

The coach I decided on was none other than SealGrinderPT’s very own Coach Brad. Brad’s a gracious guy so when he asked me to write a little something about my Kokoro 32 experience, I decided to start at the beginning with the best decision I made — hiring Coach Brad.


Prepare for SEALFIT Kokoro with Coach Brad McLeod

Front Site Focus
Kokoro Camp is one of the most intense experiences that athletes can subject themselves too. It’s not for the uncommitted or the “I’ll roll off the couch and get this done.” It takes dedication, determination, commitment, grit and knowing what is expected of you. This is why it was essential to hire a coach that not only understands what Kokoro Camp is all about but also has the knowledge and skills to take a triathlete and turn them into a Kokoro athlete.

Digestible Pace with Accountability Thrown In
Coach Brad’s program is simple in execution but rich in knowledge and experience. He caters the workouts to the specific evolutions within Kokoro while also pushing you to see what you are made of. Each WOD was carefully crafted to prepare me for the rigors of Kokoro without breaking me. Far too often, an experience athlete (and coach) will push too hard, too fast and risk injury or overtraining. This was not my experience with Coach Brad and it was the decided factor in my ability to completed Kokoro.

More Than Just Physical
Kokoro is about 10% physical and 90% mental once you have your baseline fitness taken care of. Once your body in shape, it’s really about how well you have trained your mind. I felt that this is what sets Coach Brad apart from the other coaches I looked at — he also prepares your mind.

I have seen plenty of physically fit athletes buckle under stress. They just can’t handle when they fail or things go wrong. Kokoro pushes you to your absolute limit where you will fail — guaranteed. If your mind is strong then you will be able to recover from this failure point and get your head back in the game. If your mind is weak or you are doing Kokoro for the wrong reasons, then you’ll also fail.

Baseline Before Coaching
My baseline of fitness was primary centered around triathlon activities and the occasional GORUCK. This is fine to start but would never be enough to conquer Kokoro. The Kokoro baseline PFT is well published and my baseline numbers before coaching are below:
• Pull-ups (minimum 10. No time limit): 6
• Push-ups (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): 44
• Sit-ups (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): 51
• Air Squats (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): Not Tested
• 1 mile run (maximum 9:30): 7:36 (slick for 5 miles)


Prepare for SEALFIT 20X Challenge with Coach Brad McLeod

These results are not bad for a triathlete but not even close for preparing for Kokoro. This was a clear indication that I needed some help in order to hit the mark. I won’t go through the whole training process that Coach Brad put me through but I will say that I started training with Coach Brad February 1st — almost 5 months before Kokoro.

Kokoro PFT Results
My PFT results at Kokoro 32 were as follows:
• Pull-ups (minimum 10): 10
• Sit-ups (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): 57
• Push-ups (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): 51
• Air Squats (minimum 50 in 2 minutes): 71
• One Mile Run in Boots and BDU’s (maximum 9:30): 8:25

As you can see, I improved dramatically over the last 5 months. What’s not captured in these PFT numbers is that we had been going for about 5 hours before we actually did the PFT test. For me, this was a major achievement and a testament to Coach Brad’s training program and myself taking the standards seriously and putting the time in.

Kokoro 32 Excerpts
There were a lot of memorable experiences at Kokoro 32. Below are just some excerpts of what it was like. If you want to read my full account, you can click here.

The Visor of Leadership
It’s a funny thing what people bring to endurance events. Some have their favorite comfort food, some bring lucky socks while others have a special shirt that inspires them. All of these things are usually unnoticeable to most of us but not to Kokoro coaches. They see everything.

The uniform is meant to make all of us look the same. We are one team and being an individual just means you’ll get “special” attention, which is what happened to CORDELL. She decided to wear a visor, which immediately singled her out as a “princess”. I also don’t think the brightly colored nail polish did her any favors. For the rest of the welcome party, the teammate leading us would wear the visor of leadership. The beat down was pretty intense and pushed one of our teammates out quickly.

Remember You Paid for This
Most military style fitness programs start off with a welcome party — the first kick in the teeth of what is about to be your life for the next 50+ hours. Kokoro is no exception. Physical Training (PT) in BDU’s, last name stenciled on a t-shirt and boots (the official Kokoro uniform) is what we started out with.

Push-ups, burpees and the ever-present water hose are a constant reminder that you need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. These first few intense hours are where your Why gets put to the test. If you thought this was going to be easy, well, think again.

Nothing Focusing the Mind Like Log PT
Our next evolution was Log PT. Earlier, we had learned the basics and now it was time to work as a team. Log PT is extremely humbling. Logs are awkward and you can tell right away if someone is not lifting the load.

Coordination is paramount when lifting a 200+ pound log since real injuries can occur if your whole team in not synchronized. Thankfully, Team GOLD worked well together and we quickly got the hang of it. We got to put our new skills to the test by carrying our log down the street to the T in the road. This was challenging but as a team, we formulated a plan of micro-goals that got us through it.

Thanks Coach Brad
My experience at Kokoro 32 was made better because I hired a good coach and put the work in. The Kokoro experience was life changing and I’m so glad that I went through it and had Coach Brad at my side to coach me to success. Thanks Coach Brad!

About the author: Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training, entrepreneur by nature and leader by endurance. He is the author of #ENDURANCE tweet — A little nudge to keep you going and also blogs about endurance athletics and leadership over at EnduranceLeader.