By Josh Tubbs
Recognition was the first indicator that I was nearing a slippery slope to a life that would have significant impacts on my family and myself, my health, spirit, energy, and confidence. I had seen it before with friends. It was a domino effect that left a path of destruction and I knew it wasn’t who I wanted to be or what I wanted to project on my kids and my wife. They had seen me, once, as passionate and involved. That was changing.
I found myself unfulfilled and somewhat hopeless. I was overweight, out of shape, negligent of my body, my spirit, and my path forward as an individual. It was dragging me down emotionally. Work was a constant barrage of negative impacts, one constant criticism without solutions after another. I found myself coming home at night mindless and uninterested in what the next day would bring.
I first read about GORUCK while browsing The Art of Manliness. My first inclination was that there would be no possible way that I could ever complete such a physically exhausting event. It had been 12 years since I had last run a mile and sports were never my thing. While I stayed in decent shape as a teenager, adolescence was followed by college, fraternity parties, complacency, etc.
I began to train.
I trained slowly for my first 5k and completed it at 34 years old. That sense of accomplishment gave me a kind of rush that I had never experienced. It was internal and it was powerful but, let’s be honest, I was catching up.
I visited GORUCK’s website at least once a week for what seemed like a year. I scanned events near me and compared them with my calendar. I read through training regiments and implemented them in my workouts. I researched shoes vs. boots and searched for answers to questions like, “What kind of socks work best for this kind of thing?” I really did!
Eventually, I explained to my wife that signing up for this event was something I had to do for myself. I wasn’t sure I could finish an event but I desperately needed something to launch me forward. To be honest, I’m not completely sure she thought I could complete the event either. I’m also sure she thought it was a joke when I told her how much I spent on a ruck (Rucker – it was a great place to start). My daughter was terrified that I would injure myself. My son thought it was weird that I would want to walk around all night long with heavy weight in a backpack. The three most important people in my life were extremely concerned about how this would all work out.
Discussing this event with my Dad I received a different reaction. Tons of stories spanned his 29-year military service.
As a kid, I had heard about monkeys stealing food from their camp near the Panama Canal. He talked a little bit about his time at GITMO as an MP and, to this day, reflects in amazement at the size of the rats on base.
When I sat down with him about GORUCK his 68-year-old blue eyes brightened. More detail emerged in his stories about the mountains on the DMZ in Korea as a 19-year-old in the late 60’s, the long rucks and patrols, his comrades with whom he still keeps in contact, and those that didn’t come home.
I found that I got this same response from my closest friends who had served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places throughout the world in situations and circumstances that I couldn’t imagine. They beamed with pride and often crumbled in emotion recollecting their memories.
Each time I walked away more appreciative and more inspired by their stories and their zeal. It was incredible to see how one simple discussion surrounding a ruck event launched these guys into beast mode. The common theme kept presenting itself in our discussions. “I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.” “You just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.” “I didn’t know what the hell I got myself into here.”
They had all found their limits and pushed through. I wanted to know what that was like.
Completing my first GORUCK Tough Challenge was by the far my most difficult task. I questioned myself so many times in that 13-hour period. The voice inside refusing to allow my physical body to give up was like a long lost friend.
The event was mentally and physically painful in ways I hadn’t known existed and yet, with the help of my team, we overcame. I was among a group of caring individuals from all walks of life who were both energized and energizing. They were passionate about their lives and as equally passionate about mine. It didn’t take long to realize that the internal call was pushing me to help my teammates. It wasn’t about me at all. The reward was in lifting one another up in extremely trying situations.
That is one heck of a lesson to take back to the office with you on Monday morning, huh?
The GORUCK experience and community has brought out the best in me as a father, a husband, a son, a brother and as an American. I’m still trying to justify buying a GR2 to my wife. I don’t know how that will go but, ya know…DFQ, amirite?
I’m still new to the GORUCK community but I’m committed to what it does for people and recognize what those people, in turn, do for their communities.
If you are thinking about doing an event, DO IT! Wednesdays will never be the same again and you will find complete strangers who share like-minded values: rucking, people, beer, America.
One last thought: Recently, my daughter and I were playing the ‘ask your kids these questions’ game that had been showing up my Facebook feed.
I asked her, “What makes you most proud of Daddy?”
“That you completed a GORUCK,” she replied.
Your kids see what you value and understand more about how it affects us positively than we give them credit. Be the person you want them to see, don’t just think about it.