SGPT interviews Brian Anderson Kokoro Grad

SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
Anderson: I’m 39 years old, married, and have two young daughters. I’m a corporate lawyer in the San Francisco office of a big law firm, which means I have to sit at a desk and be indoors far too much. My reward is working out and being outdoors. I love running, rucking, swimming, lifting, OCR, CrossFit, and soccer.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

Anderson: I played soccer, baseball, and football as a young kid. I got serious about soccer when I started high school. I had the opportunity to play soccer for a club in The Netherlands for two years during my junior and senior years of high school. After playing in Europe, I played NCAA DII soccer for a couple of years in college.

SGPT: How did you train for the Kokoro event?

Anderson: I was in decent shape when I signed up for Kokoro. I had completed a GORUCK tough event and the Spartan Race Trifecta (all three race distances in a calendar year). But, I knew Kokoro would be a very different challenge. I wanted to improve my strength, power, endurance, and – most importantly – mental toughness for Kokoro. I was very lucky because a good friend of mine, who graduated from Kokoro 37, gave me great advice on training and gear. Most of the tips I’ll share with you in this interview I owe to him. Thanks Jon.

I combined a few different programs, including: CrossFit, Mark Divine’s 8 Weeks to SEALFIT, Coach Brad’s SGPT workouts (especially to increase max pull-ups), Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple & Sinister kettlebell program, Dan John’s Easy Strength.

I also trained in kick boxing. My trainer, Buddy Walker, modified my training to help get me ready for Kokoro, adding a lot of body weight exercises, tire flips, and sled pulls.

Each week during the last few months before Kokoro, I tried to do at least one hill run (3-5 miles), one ruck with 40 lbs (1-3 hours), and one performance standard test (PST) exceeding the minimums (PST minimums: 10 pull-ups, 50 push-ups in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes, 50 squats in 2 minutes, 1-mile run under 9 minutes). I found it helpful to keep a training log so that I could measure my progress. Here’s a sample week:

Monday (2/22/16) – Recover, stretch, box breathing.
Tuesday (2/23/16) – CrossFit
Wednesday (2/24/16) – Military press, front squats, overhead sandbag holds, 5-mile hill run. Massage.
Thursday (2/25/16) — PST: pull-ups (12), push-ups (59), sit-ups (57), squats (76), 1-mile run (8:00)
Friday (2/26/16) — Deadlift, bench press, back squat, pull-ups, loaded carries, 100 4-count flutter kicks
Saturday (2/27/16) — Murph w/ 20 lbs vest, 100 4-count flutter kicks
Sunday (2/28/16) — 2-hour ruck w/ 40 lbs + 21-15-9 push-ups & air squats w/ 40 lbs ruck, 100 4-count flutter kicks, 100 leg levers, 5-minute plank

I also did breath control (box breathing) and regular cold showers/ice baths to condition myself for the cold/wet evolutions at Kokoro.

Lastly, mental preparation is hugely important. I read books that inspired me to train hard and put out at Kokoro, including: Way of the SEAL by Mark Divine, Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine, Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, Damn Few by Rorke Denver, The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens, The Fighters Mind by Sam Sheridan, and The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield.

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

Anderson: I graduated from Kokoro 42 in April 2016. The event was at Vail Lake in Temecula, CA, except for a couple of evolutions at the ocean and in the mountains. I was lucky to have an outstanding team that included professional athletes, elite endurance athletes, SOF candidates, executives, and weekend warriors like me. 19 started; 13 graduated. The Kokoro program and the SEALFIT coaching staff and interns are outstanding. Every part of the Kokoro program is expertly designed and meticulously planned for a specific purpose. The SEALFIT coaching staff and interns execute the program seamlessly, from one evolution to the next. Kokoro tests your physical and mental limits. You are physically exhausted from 50+ hours of non-stop intense training and workouts. Sleep deprivation and unceasing exposure to raw elements (wet, cold, sand, wind, sun/heat) compound everything. You get into this really interesting stressed, fight or flight, state of mind. Then, you are asked to perform tasks at a very high level, such as team log PT drills. Overall Kokoro exceeded my expectations. It’s really hard, but it’s also really rewarding. Even in the middle of the most painful evolutions, there are these amazing vivid moments when you think, “this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

Anderson: The cold/wet evolutions were the hardest part for me. We were cold and wet for a long time. We lost at least three people during one cold/wet evolution at night. I relied heavily on breath control (box breathing) and mantras to help endure the cold. I always thought mantras were nonsense, but they worked for me when I was shivering uncontrollably and hurting on the beach in the middle of the night. I used a few different mantras, but the one I used most often during the cold/wet evolutions was: “breathe, smile, keep working.” Somehow, forcing myself to smile – and share a joke with a teammate about how much this sucks – helped me keep going.

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

Anderson: Overall I was happy with my training and preparation for Kokoro. But, I was disappointed in my performance on one evolution that involved carrying heavy objects a long distance (I don’t want to say too much about specific evolutions). I wish I would have done more farmer carries and grip strength work so that I could have carried it further and more often and helped my team more.

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

Anderson: Physically, train hard on the PST movements (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, squats), running, farmer carries, grip strength, deadlift (overall strength is important for things like log PT), flutter kicks, planks, and rucking. Coach Brad’s SGPT workouts address all of these elements. Invest in your gear, especially for your feet. A couple of my teammates, who were performing well, were slowed down by awful blisters. Invest in your hydration and fuel strategy. When you get the chance, you want to be able to fully hydrate and get quality calories into your body quickly. Invest in your mental preparation. Be a good teammate. Share your fuel and gear with others. Check on teammates who may be hurting. At some point during the 50+ hours you will be the one who needs help from your team. Kokoro is an incredible experience so put in the necessary physical and mental training and preparation to get the most out of it.

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

Anderson: Nike SFB Field 6″ boots. I highly recommend these boots. I just bought a second pair.

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

Anderson: Yes. I used thin sock liners under Smart Wool medium cushion outer socks. I used body glide all over my feet. Double socks and body glide worked really well for me; I had no blisters.

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

Anderson: I trained with my cherished old GORUCK GR1 with 40 lbs of taped bricks and weight plates in it. For Kokoro, SEALFIT kindly provided us with possibly the most uncomfortable ruck ever made. It comes standard with painful (often broken) straps and it will be covered in sand and dirt that will grind against your skin for hours and hours. Good times!

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

Anderson: I am reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I am also listening to the audio version of Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin during my commute to/from work each day.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

Anderson: My pleasure, thank you!

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