SGPT Interviews Kokoro Grad Don Riley

SGPT: Tell us about yourself?

DR: 47 years old, 5’9 160lbs. Born and raised in Chicago, I’m a married father with four ape-like boys. I’m an Adjunct Professor in Exercise Science and Sports Studies at two Chicago universities.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

DR: I tried to play as many sports as I could, because I wasn’t uniquely excellent at any one sport, just a little good at everything. Plus, I was a skinny shrimp during high school. Then I started lifting weights to add some muscle weight and that had me hooked for years. I was into Tae Kwon Do as a kid, then Hapkido as an adult. The strength training and added muscle did help my body handle the flip take downs, grappling and joint locks we had to endure in Hapkido. As an adult, i kept looking for the next challenge – run races, marathon, triathlon, obstacle course races, etc. Then came upon Kokoro.

SGPT: How did you train for the Kokoro event?

DR: I used a combination of your articles and interviews on and tips, like your “Ways to Fail at BUD/S & Kokoro” articles. You can learn just as much from critically thinking about failure, then success. SealFit 8 Weeks to SealFit phone app, then my own additional training of icebath torture/recovery. I have to add, i didn’t properly training for the event. If it wasn’t for my teammates and swim buddy carrying me, i wouldn’t have lasted as long as i did. I felt everyone there was much better prepared than me and deserved the accolades.

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

DR: In Temecula, CA. near Vail Lake Resort, then some long zero dark rucking in what i think were the Palomar Mountains, in what I learned was my weakness — UP!

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

DR: The mountains! There is no excuse for my lack of prep for these mountains, but being a city guy, there is no adequate train nearby that comes close to those mountains. Without giving anything away, because i think some “unknown” elements of Kokoro should be experienced to learn what are your strengths and weaknesses during this type of crucible.

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

DR: There are these country roads in Lower Wisconsin about 2.5 hours away that i used to train the bike portion for an Ironman event, I would’ve driven to Wisconsin and run all those hills, with all the same gear – ruck and weights. A stair master didn’t quite stack up to those mountains and i had my ass handed to me by those lovely instructors at Kokoro.

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

DR: Understand your terrain and geographic location for any event first, then apply the proper training. You are given your physical requirements by SealFit – you should train for your PST exhaustively, but know there are things you can’t train for, so train for them anyway!

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

DR: I used the 5.11 Tactical Recon Urban Boot. I saw some other Kokoro teammates wear other types of footwear, but most of us had the 5.11 Tactical Boot.

I used the same boots for training. They were comfortable enough to run and handle the terrain and clean up really easy.

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

DR: I did double sock – i used some foot cream to prevent any chaffing first and that worked. Then a soft sock liner. and over that a long calf length thicker sock because i didn’t want my socks to fall down into my boot. When you get a chance to change your socks or anything, do it!

Nothing brings you back to life like dry, clean clothes. Think of it as you’re starting from fresh again. That good feeling won’t last long, but you’ll be nice and dry while having your ass handed to you with new gear on.

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

DR: A cheap canvas ruck that was used at Kokoro. The ruck was the best inexpensive money ever spent. It was raw and painful to wear but the ruck was the same one used at Kokoro and knowing how it felt during training, i didn’t have to think about that part at all during the rucks at Kokoro.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

DR: Grant, by Ron Chernow

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

DR: You’re Welcome! Happy to share.

Questions from our SGPT athletes.

Question: Coach; I want to train for a GORUCK event at Ft Bragg.  I just finished a GORUCK light in Dallas last month. How do you think I should train for the event?

Answer: Good question. I would start by rucking more miles and slowly adding weight. I would try to add elevation and rough terrain if you have a local trail nearby. I would then add in sand bag work and running.  . Check out this SGPT article: GORUCK Training Tips

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