SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
Tom Polen: I’m 42 years old, married with 3 great kids and am avidly into trail running, OCR racing & Crossfit. Professionally I’m a Segment President at a leading medical company – where I get to work with a very strong, purpose-driven team. I came across SEALFIT two years ago, took my leadership group to a custom SEALFIT event last summer and had such a great experience that followed up with 20x. The Sealfit organization is first class in every way – what a great team, mission & purpose.
SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
Polen: Not really. I ran cross country, played soccer, bmx and a few other sports, but was not seriously into and never played at an elite level. I grew up in the country and have always spend a lot of time in the outdoors – hiking, biking, etc.
SGPT: How did you train for the 20X event?
Polen: I had a good base from trail running, OCR and crossfit and started targeted training 6 days a week about 6 to 7 months out using coaching from Brad & SEALgrinderPT. I also did mobility work ~4 days a week using ROMWOD. Two friends did the same 20x & we’d get together every Saturday for 4 hour workouts that usually included a 7-8 mile trail run, 2 sealgrinder PT WODs and rucking. In retrospect, the training worked really well – I’d recommend coaching from Brad McLeod at SEALgrinderPT.com to ramp up your PT.
Beyond the 4-5 hour Saturday workouts, the most memorable training was having my 3 kids play coaches & use the garden hose to get us used to being sprayed in the face with cold water during PT. They went tribal immediately – yelling, spraying nonstop in our face, ears, up nose, and the 8 year old yelling to “stop being wusses” and stomping on our back/stomach while we were doing pushups or flutter kicks. It was really tough to breath with water being sprayed in your face, while laughing hysterically at your kids having fun with the experience and trying to keep doing the workout. The moral of the story is work hard, but have fun with it. I’ve got ~6 OCR races & a GORUCK Tough set over the next 4 months and feel the 20x training was also well fit for those as well.
SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?
Polen: The event was at Vail Lake in Temecula California – it was sunny & 70. The event started at 7 am with a short run & PT test and went continuous until 7 pm. Time flew by & it was a great time. All the coaches were great – pushing each person and building in lessons throughout the day.
SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?
Polen: I felt well prepared & wouldn’t say any part was really hard. I really enjoyed every evolution – particularly the competitive team events and opportunities to help others.
SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for 20X?
Polen: One area I learned to work on more is shoulder & ankle mobility – felt that doing OH squat holds with sandpipe.
Polen: Follow Brad’s advice starting 6 months out and you’ll be set. There is a ton of information online about other’s experiences with 20x – take time to read them all. Get your running, rucking & planking in. Carry a few ziplock bags of gels & salt tablets in your pockets. I always use Accel Gel Rapid Energy Packs (includes a small amount of protein that is shown to help speed recovery) and SaltStick Brand tablets. I didn’t have any cramping, but many people did – convinced the tablets & gels made the difference. Test yourself weekly on PT – shoot to be comfortably over the minimum standards. Don’t forget your mobility work.
Polen: I used the Oakley Light Assault Boots. I had bought the Nike SFBs first, but returned as I didn’t feel there was much ankle support. The Oakley’s were still very light, great for running & nice ankle support. Before 20x, I wore them in with ~40 miles of running & rucking and got them wet several times.
Polen: Yes, I wore double socks (Fox River Socks and liners) with body glide on feet (As well as sides/thighs & under arms). No blisters, swelling or irritation at all. I’d recommend compression underwear that go down thighs as well. You’re going to get very sandy & they’ll help prevent rash by keeping sand out of rub spots.
Polen: I used the GORUCK Rucker with 30 lb plate for training.
At the actual SEALFIT 20X event we used the standard rucks that SEALFIT had on hand (no one used their own).
Polen: Rotating between 2 right now – Brad Thor’s Blowback: A Thriller for fun and Bill George’s “Discover Your True North” for personal development (it’s on authentic leadership & shares a number of principals with a number of the Sealfit books I’ve read – particularly re: knowing your “why”).
SGPT: Many thanks for the interview, Tom
Polen: Thank you Brad for your coaching and advice. You’ve got a great mission & I’ll be asking for your help to get ready for a possible Kokoro next summer.
SGPT Interviews SEALFIT 20X Challenge Finisher Etienne Tremblay