SGPT Interviews JJ Wellemeyer GORUCK Graduate

goruck trainingSGPT: Tell us about yourself?

JW: My name is JJ Wellemeyer and I’m a 29 year old Army JAG Officer. Currently, I’m training for Kokoro 30 and a potential slot at Ranger School.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

JW: I played hockey, baseball, and football growing up. I focused on baseball while I was in high school and played some football as well.

I didn’t play any sports in college, but I was part of the Ranger Challenge Team for my R.OT.C. program.

SGPT: How did you train for the GORUCK event?

JW: I trained CrossFit at my box 2-3 times/week. On some of those days I would ruck to CrossFit class and back to make the total workout longer, and to simulate the feeling of different muscle groups being tired while under the load of my ruck.

Also, I made sure I conducted at least one long ruck march (usually 8-10 miles) once per week followed by 15-20 minutes of Yoga. Finally, I conducted one longer CrossFit-style workout once per week (e.g., Murph, Tadpole Run, Fat Angie, etc).

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SGPT: Tell us a little about the event?

JW : The Challenge started off with all of us (60-70 individuals) in one central location. The first few hours involved lots of time performing exercises with our rucks on (bear crawls, pushups, flutter kicks, front squat-to-overhead, etc). After that, the cadre split us up into two groups and we stayed with the individuals in our team for the remainder of the Challenge. The cadre picked a team leader and we were given various missions to complete throughout different parts of the city.

In addition to our rucks, our team was tasked with carrying an American Flag and two team weights (both extremely awkward, and both weighing between 25-45 lbs). Regardless of what we did, we had to carry these with us everywhere. Each mission or evolution required our team to move to a specified location in a specified amount of time. If we made our time hack, we would continue on with whatever was up next.

If we missed our time hack, or if our cadre though we needed it, we would conduct corrective training (usually involving various exercises with our rucks on). There were a few times where we found bodies of water throughout the city where our cadre required us to completely submerge ourselves multiple times. As you can imagine, the added water weight made the rucks much heavier.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

JW : There was one evolution where we were not allowed to carry our rucks on our backs. The cadre stipulated that we could only carry them by the top handle (use of the shoulder strap was not allowed). This evolution was probably the most difficult for our team because we had already been going for about 7 to 8 hours and because we had just gotten wet, making everything weigh more. Needless to say, grip strength was critical during this evolution.

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

JW : I wish I had focused more on being comfortable doing odd things with my ruck on my back. The cadre have an unlimited number of ways that they can stress your mind and body, and from what I’ve been told, each Challenge is completely different. For my Challenge, I found myself wishing I had incorporated more bear crawls, pushups, and plank holds with my ruck on.

Weight vest are great training tools, but they don’t move around and hit you on the back of the head the way a ruck can. Also, as I already mentioned, my challenge emphasized grip strength, so I would have done more farmer’s carries.

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

JW : I would get comfortable wearing your ruck as much as possible. After the challenge started the only time we took our rucks off was when we were doing an exercise with them off of our back. Also, I would make sure to have your footwear broken-in well before your challenge. I had no problem with my feet because I was used to my footwear, and because I used double socks and body glide (thanks to Brad’s coaching). You’re going to be tired and uncomfortable, so you don’t want to have to worry about your feet.

SGPT: What boots did you wear?

JJ: I wore the Rocky C4T Tactical boots with double socks. A thinner pair as my base socks made of 66% merino wool, and a slightly thicker outer pair of Merino wool blend socks. I applied body glide to my feet before I started. Had absolutely zero blisters or foot problems. I changed my boots to sneakers with 1.5 hours only because we had a 15 minute break and I had the luxury of doing so. People who wore minimalist shoes or vibrams five fingers tended to have the most issues.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

JW: No problem Brad, glad I could help out. Thanks for suggesting I do a GORUCK Challenge, it was a rewarding experience and a great training tool.

About the Author:

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