SGPT interviews Steve Costello Kokoro 42 grad

steve costello kokoro thumbSGPT: Tell us about yourself?

SC: I’m a 34-year-old father of one 4-year-old boy. A former teacher and lawyer, I currently work as a freelance content writer and publicist. I grew up in Leeds, UK and spent a few years in Manchester and London, but now live in Adelaide, Australia.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

SC: Not really. Although I played rugby until I was 11, I was never a natural athlete and always got picked last for the school sports teams. But I loved riding my mountain bike and being outdoors. As a teenager, I did nothing except drink, smoke cigarettes, eat junk food and get fat. At 19, I started boxing which eventually led me to marathons, triathlons, obstacle racing and a love of training.

SGPT: How did you train for the SEALFIT Kokoro event?

SC: Originally my training plan had no focus. I was doing Crossfit, Sealfit, Strongman, and Kokoro Yoga. I was all over the place, got burned out and pulled out of Kokoro 40. Late last year, I paid for a 20-minute consultation with Ben Greenfield. His recommendations gave me focus. Paying for his time gave me accountability. For 8 weeks, I did Dan John’s Mass Made Simple Barbell Program. The objective was to increase my capacity to carry heavy weight without taxing my adrenals.

Then I did the Operator WODs from 8 Weeks to SEALFIT, spread over 10 weeks. I did daily Kokoro yoga and meditation with weekend rucks on a trail or beach. To get used to the cold water, I had daily cold showers, ice bath Friday’s and Sunday ocean recovery swims. Training was an obsession. Workouts were journaled. Kokoro was my one thing for four months.

Getting my mental game was important, too. I studied the Unbeatable Mind Foundation Program. I also read books like The Heart And The Fist, The Warrior Elite, Rogue Warrior, Unbeatable Mind, The Way Of The Seal, Resilience, Gates Of Fire, Unbroken, Willing Warrior, Unleash The Warrior Within, 13 Hours, Lone Survivor, Fearless, Extreme Ownership, No Hero, Damn Few. From each book, I learned a mantra or tactic that served me and my teammates through Kokoro.

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

SC: It was held at Vail Lake Resort, near Temecula. It’s no longer held in Encinitas. But we were taken to the beach near San Diego for night evolutions.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

SC: It was actually just before the event. A month before Kokoro I sliced open my shin on a mistimed box jump. The wound got infected because I didn’t rest it properly while keeping my training schedule. Three hours before I was due at the airport I was in the hospital. The antibiotics weren’t working and the doctors wanted to x-ray my leg to check that the infection had not gone to the bone. They told me to rest.

I had to feed my courage wolf and trust that my preparation would carry me through Kokoro. I couldn’t back out again. But stepping on that plane was hard. I was leaving my comfortable life for the unknown. There was no turning back. I was about to be smashed open and hoped that I’d find something good inside. When Kokoro started I felt good, I was finally walking through the fog of the unknown.

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

SC: Log PT was a definite weakness for me so more overhead pressing. And more rucking with double socks. (I didn’t get my socks until 2 weeks before the event and kept having to cut short my rucks because of blisters.) I would also recommend getting boots that are 0.5 larger size. By the end of Kokoro, my toenails were trashed because there was no room in the boots for my feet to expand.

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

SC: Start with Why. It’s a long process. So you need something that fires you up and keeps you committed. Prioritize foot care. A few guys nearly quit because their feet got destroyed after the mountain ruck. Take Hammer Bars and Energy Gels (try to eat these between evolutions). Take a big bag so you can easily organize and reach your gear between evolutions. (I squeezed everything into a tactical pack and it was hard to find everything when I was tired and disorientated.) Wear compression stockings under your BDU’s to protect your knees. Pack warm clothes (I didn’t). And double check your Kokoro warning order. Attention to detail starts before you arrive. Keep smiling. Focus on how you can help your teammates. Suffer in silence. Everyone will be hurting. If you voice your pain or discomfort, it will only weaken the team. And check out all the awesome SEALFIT Kokoro videos. Visualize yourself dominating every evolution. Visualize what you will see, hear, and feel when Commander Divine says, “Kokoro ##, you are secured!”

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

SC: I wore the Nike Men’s SFB Special Field Boots.

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

SC: Body glide did not prevent blisters during my training. Just before Kokoro I came across Hike Goo and wore Wigwam Comfort Hhiker socks and Wigwam Ultimate Liner Pro. This combination literally guarantees no blisters.

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

SC: The ROTHCO Canvas Rucksack available at or I wanted to make my training as realistic as possible.

In my training, I filled the bag with two 10lb plates wrapped in a towel.

In hindsight, I should have filled a sandbag with 1/3 of sand and carried that (which is what we do at Kokoro). I also carried a sand filled PVC pipe. Hooyah to Coach Brad for instructions on how to make one.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

SC: I am reading Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview

SC: My pleasure Coach Brad, thanks for the interview. I hope this helps other people who want to get after Kokoro.

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