This post first appeared on baanmuaythai.org but was taken down in 2020. It has been reposted here with Mark’s permission.
First and foremost thanks to all of the GORUCK Community for showing me so much support during Selection. Y’all fucking rock! As most of you know I had no idea that this was such a huge thing. I didn’t even know the Tough page existed until my buddy told me they Live Stream parts of Selection for people to watch so I got it for my wife and kids to watch. I’m glad I did join the group cause when I was finished and went onto my phone I got to see the support and the comments everyone was writing. That was a real dope feeling. So once again THANK YOU to everyone!
Next, thanks to all the Cadre for putting me through some shit. I have done a ton of different types of events and am usually disappointed in them. When I sign up for shit I don’t want it to be easy and this wasn’t easy. I liked how each Cadre offered something completely different whether it being exercises or just their overall attitude. I have huge respect for the Military especially guys who make teams. So for me to get to perform in front of all of you was fucking awesome. (If you show up for Selection don’t be a quitter in front of a bunch of dudes who don’t quit, it’s not a good look!)
For my training. The most important thing you need in Selection is a strong mind. Without it, you’re fucked. You need to know you have a no-quit attitude for anything. I have always been this way but my mental game got a lot stronger the longer I trained Muay Thai. You CANT be weak-minded and make it in the fight game as an amateur or pro. You have to enjoy the pain and sacrifice that you put your body thru to get to the end picture. That’s what it’s all about… The finish.
I am writing this more than two weeks later and my right knee still is in pain and I still have zero feelings in both of my big toes because of nerve damage. My knee was wrecked the second 24 hours. Brutal pain. If you are a quitter this is the time you quit. I knew my knee was injured but you have to not care about the consequences if you want to succeed. FINISHING has to be your only thought.
A good example of this for an everyday person would be drinking. Imagine it’s your best friend’s birthday. You and all of your boys are gonna go hit the club ripping shots back and doing whatever other crazy shit you do. Now think of the consequences. You spend a ton of money, you cant drive cause your shitfaced, make bad decisions after the club. The next day you feel like a bag of ass because you’re hungover. Sometimes puking. You are fully aware of all the consequences before you go out that night with your friends but you don’t care about them. You have one thought in your head and that’s to fucking rip it up and show your best friend a great time and you fucking do it. It’s the same for Selection. Fuck what happens to you during or after, just complete the mission.
Also, when you are signing up for Selection you know that the Cadre are gonna yell at you. You can’t let them get into your head. I personally love when they were yelling talking shit. I use it to help me perform better. The more shit they talked the more excited I got. Have this attitude when you do Selection. You cant have this attitude if your mind’s not right. Your everyday life while training for Selection should become your training. If you have an itch when you’re at home watching TV, don’t itch it. If your starving, don’t eat for five more hours. I am left-handed. I carried and did everything right-handed for almost five months just to make my mind work harder. Little weird shit that no one notices are huge.
The last thing with your mind is to know why you are there. I was there for two reasons. One was I love the fight. I hate the easy way out and feed off of difficulty. I love when you physically can’t do something then your mind says “fuck that shit quit acting like a bitch,” then you do it.
My second reason was my kids. This would be my first reason but I was doing this shit before they were born, they just help me even more. Since they were born I tell them and show them how strong your mind is. NEVER QUIT! Know why your there and don’t forget it.
I trained six days a week taking Sundays off for just under five months. No matter what the weather was, I trained. I never skipped one session. About halfway through I got bursitis in my right knee. It got really bad and I had to go to the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. For one week during this time I didn’t do anything. This was the only break that I took. My knee was the size of a cantaloupe.
My main training which was done six days a week at least twice a day sometimes three times a day was Muay Thai. I did all of my Muay Thai workouts at my gym Baan Muay Thai Academy located in Lebanon, NH. This involves running, skipping rope (Thai jump rope), bear crawls, crab walks, push-ups, jump squats/lunges, and sprints as a warm-up. Followed by that is shadowboxing. I used two 9lb weights while shadowboxing. After this is bag work and hitting pads. This is 3-5 rounds of each and the rounds are 3 minutes long with a 45-second rest. Once that’s done with, sparring/clinching for about 30 minutes. Lastly, a ton of all different types of abs averaging about 500. Muay Thai times were 6 am, 12 pm, and 6:30 pm Monday and Wednesday, 12 pm and 6:30 pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and 12 pm Saturday.
My friend owns a gym called Wayne’s World. He has bootcamps and strength classes there. Its about 2 miles away from my house. I did bootcamps three times a week. Bootcamps consisted of 19 stations that were a minute long-lasting one hour. I would do the bootcamps with a full ruck plus added weight. My ruck was usually 60-65lbs during bootcamps. I really didn’t enjoy this at all. Even tho it was a great workout it became more of a mental workout for me than anything. I ran to his gym with my ruck (not jogged but ran) did the hour bootcamp, then jogged back home and walked the uphills. Bootcamp times were 9 am Thursday, 6 am Friday, and 10 am Saturday.
I did one GORUCK Heavy last year in NYC for 9/11. This is where I learned about log and sandbag PT. I went online and bought a 120lb sandbag that had three-40lb filler bags. On my way home one day I passed a group of workers cutting down an old telephone pole. I went back later and snagged a section of it. It weighed 57lbs. Also, I bought one of those home stations that have a dip bar, pull-up bar, pushup bars, and you can do abs by turning around on the dip bars. I live on 15 acres of land in NH. There are woods, a field with 10-foot tall weeds, along with hills on the property. All of these workouts were done in my yard. In the middle of the yard is flat and open. This was my home base and where the blistering sun would beat down on. I made random workouts up most with a ruck on but sometimes without and would train for about an hour out there. There were no specific days/times I did this but would do it at least twice a week.
A member at my gym is a professional mountain biker. On Thursday evenings I would go ride with her on some pretty sick trails. She’s a fucking maniac by the way. I couldn’t even keep up with her the slightest bit and my quads felt like they were on fire. I just did this a few times but was a great way to mix up my workouts and go getaway for a little.
So I can’t stand reading. I don’t like sitting still at all. I’ve read probably 2-3 books my whole life. I thought about a month into training that I should get a book and read on my downtime. I ended up buying two of them. One was “Champions Mind” and the other was “Relentless”. Relentless was a fucking awesome book. When I was reading it I felt like they were talking about me. I’m really glad I liked it cause Champions Mind was just whatever. The main reason I wanted to read through was to do more shit than I hated doing. The more shit sucks the easier it will be later.
Lastly, what I hated most was rucking. So I cant stand walking to begin with. I sort of jog everywhere or walk fast as I can so to walk with a heavy ass bag on my back was a true nightmare for me.
First, I wanted to make sure I could do the PT part of the ruck and be fine. You have to do 12 miles in 3:30 hours. I was averaging between 2 and 2.5 hours on this. My method that I chose to get this was to jog all flat parts, sprint as fast as I could on downhills, and walk all uphills. I have read and have seen in several places that you shouldn’t run with a ruck. The people that say this are people who can’t do it (well that’s at least what I told myself). Once I knew I was all set with the PT section came my hard rucks. Like I said before I hated rucking so I only did it once a week.
I saw some posts that you HAVE to ruck X amount of hours each day to get X amount at the end of the week. Well, I definitely didn’t do that. What I decided to do was one hard heavy-ass ruck once a week. I would load my ruck up from 65-90lbs and hit the mountains. I would always start by putting on wet socks and would soak my shoes. Sometimes I would wear the same socks for a week straight unless they stunk too bad. The only time I would have on fresh socks would be if it was the day when I changed them. I would go between 15-22 miles. I have a filter that I can filter my water from streams so would bring that as well cause I would run out of water frequently. Never any music and would go with just my dog.
About two weeks out from Selection I tapered all ruck stuff completely out. Didn’t touch it once and I loved it. I replaced my time with heated yoga. I went once a day for two weeks. This was great for my mind and to get my breathing on point. I tried to not think of anything during the hour and fifteen-minute class and just zone out.
Minus the 12 Mile Ruck I did timed pushups and situps 5-10 times week and the 5 mile timed run once a week. I did do other runs for longer periods but wouldn’t time them. I was averaging 65-75 full pushups so my chest would touch the ground and lock out my elbows and 75-90 situps. My 5 mile run was between 34-35 minutes. Pushups and situps were never done in a comfortable area so I would find rocks or a decline area and all runs were done on hills or trails.
What was great, well not at the time, was that it was hot and humid as shit. My whole training time spent was done in the Summer months. Outside workouts were brutal because you get dehydrated quicker and your body heats up way faster so when Selection came in October it was nice and cool so I knew my body would be fine.
I had no clue what the Cadre were gonna have me do in Selection but I did know that I punished myself daily with my workouts so I wasn’t too worried about what they were gonna have me do. Saturdays I made my worst day cause it was my last day before my rest, my body was beaten from the whole week so I decided to make it my long day. Every Saturday looked like this. Ran 2 miles to bootcamp with ruck, did bootcamp, slow one-mile jog to my gym, did swings/pulls with ruck for 15 minutes. Then, did Muay Thai class. After that walked back to my house with the full ruck. Once I got to my mailbox I took the ruck off and did a two-mile sprint. Once I got home I maxed out dips, pullups, and pushups one time thru and was done. It was about a 7.5-hour workout in total. At the end of every week, I once again beat Selection!
On food, my first month I stuck with a very strict diet to lose 15lbs. My body performs best when I’m at 185lbs. When I first start training for things I have to be all or nothing. It’s how my mind works. Once I get the ball rolling I will start eating whatever again. So for all the middle months I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t drink alcohol until Saturday night and would have a few beers Sunday early afternoon. My last month I went 100% sober. Not a fucking sip. Game time!!!
I am never a big fan of eating right when I wake up in the morning. I usually wait till 9ish to eat. This actually worked out well for me cause all of my morning workouts were done on an empty stomach. Saturdays– my long day– I would eat for the first time when I had finished my workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I made up for it throughout the rest of the day by shoving my face with everything in sight!
I have never taken any supplements at all. I don’t do pre-workout post-workout or any other shit. No protein powder or fancy drinks made in a blender. I think it’s all a scheme. You don’t need it. Eat a lot of food and you’re good to go. About four days out I did a carb overload. All I ate was carbs and food with healthy high fats.
Now onto Selection!
My wife, kids and I got to the parking lot where the starting point was an hour and a half early. There were only a few people in the parking lot. I took my son down a trail looking for where it was gonna begin. We didn’t see anything so we went back to the car and just chilled out for a while.
More cars started rolling in slowly.
I was nervous about the weight of my ruck. All scales are different. When I or one of my fighters would have to weigh in, we might be on weight with our scale but when you get to the weigh-ins sometimes you can be two pounds off. So then you’re forced to go cut the extra weight. Here, if your ruck isn’t on the weight you can’t continue. Someone ended up having a scale and weighed my ruck and it was 47lbs dry. Good to go.
The parking lot started filling up quickly and there were people getting all frantic. Some of the guys were pretty jacked and my wife said to me look at the size of some of them. I will remember this to the day I die, I looked at her and said “I’m gonna smoke every single person here.” I already knew. You have to.
After Selection was done I saw some things that said I was cocky and some of the Cadre said the same during. I am not cocky at all. I knew I was gonna pass Selection and I knew what I did leading up to it. There was never any doubt in my head at any moment that I wouldn’t finish. On my last day at my gym, my students said good luck to me. There’s no such thing as good luck to me. If you get injured, you didn’t train your mind hard enough. You either trained to pass or you trained to fail. I know what I did.
At about 12:15 pm my family and I walked down the trail right next to the starting point. There was a cool little spot for kids to play. We all stayed there and played for a while and me and my son built a little fort. People started lining up to where the Cadre had put some cones. My wife asked me when I was gonna go over and I said at 12:55 pm. I could tell she was nervous.
Like I said earlier, I did one GORUCK event before. I had no idea what was going on for that one. I remember me and Paul got there early and everyone was saying line up and fall into ranks and a bunch of other shit so I just went with the flow and lined up. This was an hour early mind you. After about 20 minutes of standing there, I was like fuck this and left and went to sit on a wood rail and looked at the ocean. Someone yelled to me come back because the Cadre will be here soon. I just pretended I didn’t hear them. 10 minutes before it started I walked back over. I had remembered this so I didn’t want to go stand up there early this time with a bunch of people for no reason.
You have to have your mind in the right spot. Everyone has different things that will help you. Mine is my son. He gets my mind relaxed and makes me so happy. That’s how I wanted to start Selection. Relaxed and happy to be there. At 12:55 pm I gave my daughter and wife a hug and kiss and dapped up my son and told him when I’m done I was gonna beat his butt and we laughed and I went into the line with all the other candidates.
I was given a medical form to fill out when I got up to the line. Filled that out, and med checked in. After, we all had to fall in ranks. We all just stood there while the Cadre slowly walked all around us. There was complete silence except for some people who I could hear breathing hard as shit cause they were obviously scared to death. Then Cadre Jason went to the front and gave us a little speech about Selection.
We were all given our roster numbers at this point. 035 baby! After this was done the yelling began. I love this shit. I yell a lot in my gym at my students to produce stress on them and to motivate them. Competing in Muay Thai can be stressful so I like them to feel that in the gym first before going to a big show. We were told to dump our rucks completely out. One of the Cadre kept calling this guy a weirdo and I had to put my head down cause I was cracking up.
We did a complete gear check at this point. After that was done we were given 30 seconds to load our rucks back up. Now I saw the packing list video that Cadre Jason put up and I know he said to practice loading your ruck back up fast. I never did this once. It was unimportant to me. I knew I could fit everything in there so it was gonna go back in however long it took me. I trained for the important stuff not filling my ruck fast.
To my surprise, people actually had their rucks filled in 30 seconds. Not a lot but some did. We had to keep dumping our rucks and keep filling them. The guy to the right of me was dripping with sweat and sounded like he just sprinted a marathon.
I knew he wasn’t gonna make it long. What a mess. Haha. We were given 45 seconds next and more people finished. Then, a minute. This was when I received my first line on my patch for a performance failure. Then a minute and a half. At this point, there was only a few of us left. Then the Cadre gave us a minute and forty-five seconds and I finished.
There was probably only 3-5 people left at this point.
Not sure if I’m right or wrong, but I think this is all done just to get you going and build up the stress for the weak-minded. If this is the reason it definitely worked on some of them. I just took my time and put everything back exactly how I wanted it. Later after the run and ruck, everyone was opening their rucks back up and reorganizing it again. I didn’t have to cause I did it right the first time. Don’t really know if this is the best option or not but it worked perfectly for me.
The PT test. Not much to really say about this. Pushups and pullups were done on a flat area with nice soft grass. Pushups were first and nailed them. Easy stuff!
Then came the situps. Not easy stuff.
I ended up with the smallest guy I think in Selection that day. I’m not huge but am 6’2, 190lbs. The guy couldn’t hold my ankles down, so I got several no counts.
Then he put his head between my legs, and as I came up I fucking headbutted him. The Cadre told him several times to hold my feet differently but then the two minutes were up. I had no clue what my final number was. I then had to hold his feet next and I could see the sheet that the Cadre wrote the numbers on and it said 68. Passed by fucking three.
The run and ruck were simple. I had been running and rucking on beast hills/mountains at home so this was easy. I finished first in both the run and ruck. I already saw my training working!
Welcome Party. My favorite part of Selection by far.
I was having a blast during this. I think a little too fun and the Cadre started to sense that so they sharked the shit out of me. HAHA! Every event in the Welcome Party is a race/contest. I love this shit and I have a refuse-to-lose attitude. I had heard so much shit about the Welcome Party I was expecting way worse. I have no clue why people drop out during this. It was sort of hard but not really.
The Welcome Party is the first thing you do in Selection. Your body is fresh, and it started early in the night so there’s no way you should be fatigued yet. We were in and out of the water and up and down a hill doing races for 4 hours. I think at the end there was only 6 of us left. I couldn’t believe it.
They have a saying it pays to be a winner and it does. I won pretty much all of the events and then I got to sit out on the next evolution which gave me time to recover. The people who were coming in last got no recovery time and went right into the next evolution. Your body can only take so much so they end up dropping out, I guess. BE A WINNER!
For the next few hours, we threw sandbags. We threw them backward, forwards, sideways, and every other fucking way. At one point they just made us crawl. I don’t know how far we did this for, but it was a while. It was pitch black out and I was more bored than anything. The Cadre sort of back off and we just crawled. Soaking wet, freezing, muddy, and with a ruck on our backs. I like it better when the Cadre are in your face bitching at you. Now they left us alone. Well maybe they were in the back hounding the people back there but they weren’t around me or the guy behind me.
As the sun came up we threw some more sandbags. I guess it was for 1 mile. Again more boring than difficult. Eventually, we got to take our rucks off and do just sandbag PT. Forget what this is called but we were doing reps no less than 150. Overhead shit, lunges, squats, situps, running.
After we all finished that there was only three of us. We were told to lift a huge log. As soon as I bent down to pick it up I knew I wasn’t physically capable of lifting it. I said straight up to the Cadre there’s no way I can lift this. He moved us around on the log to try it again. He saw that it wasn’t happening and it was done. Just like that. I think he could tell that it wasn’t gonna happen and he didn’t wanna see anyone getting injured. So we grabbed our own cut-up pieces assigned by the Cadre and carried them to the water.
The third guy was always behind me and 13, so when they assigned us our logs the Cadre gave him the heaviest one. This is what must be hard in Selection that I never had to experience. He wasn’t the last one the whole time during Selection. As a matter of fact, top 3, but when the lasts ones quit, you now become last. You have to win here. No other way. Then there was two!
Me and 13 were in the water doing log PT for a while. It wasn’t bad. Yea our rucks were heavy as shit from being waterlogged and the pieces of wood were heavy but I love the water. It’s a great time to cool off and the water was so cold that I was thinking that it must be helping with swelling in my legs.
After the water, we did bear crawls, lunges, crawls, and sprints to the top of the hill and then they said you made it 24 hours. First day done!
To be honest there’s nothing really impossible or extremely difficult on your first day. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy. What becomes hard is it’s non-stop so it really takes a toll on your body. You have to take each evolution by itself and focus on that. If you don’t have a well-trained body, the first 24 hours are impossible.
I ate my “riva wata” mix of shit which made all you laugh at, then started the second 24. When they told us to get up after our break, the Cadre weren’t looking and I whispered to 13 “yo we’re half way done, you good to go” and he whispered back “I’m in it.” I was pumped. We got down to the bottom of the hill and were told to pick up 5-gallon buckets. As soon as 13 grabbed it he said “I’m done.”
And then there was one. The next command that the Cadre said was since he just quit now you got his bucket too. HAHAHA. T
his is when you have to smile at shit. Yea it was heavy and no I didn’t wanna carry it but fuck it. I had to bring buckets of water up the hill and maintain a certain level. It was never right. The buckets got kicked out and was told to refill them.
The next challenge was so boring that I thought I was gonna lose my mind. I had to bring every sandbag that was at Selection to the top of the hill. I guess it was probably 1/2 mile from the sandbags at the gravel pit to top of the hill. The sandbags ranged from 30-80lbs and if I remember correctly there was 17 of them.
This took fucking hours.
I think the Cadre started to see that I’m worse when I’m left alone. They really didn’t bother me too much or say anything to me. Some people hate getting yelled at which I didn’t care about, whereas boredom is my enemy. They all just sat back and watched me walk on the same trail, the same hill up, carrying sandbags. My legs were mashed up by this point and chaffing was beginning but all I wanted was to do something else. Anything. I didn’t care about my legs at all, I was losing my mind of being bored.
Cadre BD and Cadre JC took me to the water for a while. I think they called it water ops but not sure if that’s right. This was a fun time for me. Back in the water. I basically crawled around on the bottom using my arms and would do an exercise or two randomly but it was laid back.
I think they were giving me a break but kept me moving to stay somewhat active. They explained to me how they would move in times of war so it was cool to learn some stuff too. This didn’t last as long as I wanted but it was definitely nice while it lasted.
I also did another evolution with Cadre Cody in the water. He asked me if I was hungry so I got excited that I was gonna be able to eat so I said “Yea”. Then he handed me a stick and told me to go fishing. He barked out “LEFT, RIGHT, BEHIND YOU, OTHER WAY” and I had to smash the water with the stick and pretend to kill fish. Cadre Cody said I scared them all away and to give him his stick back. When I was done I never got to eat. Haha.
As night fell the second night I continued doing all types of weird shit with them. They then told me that I had to do my second PT test. I don’t really remember exactly but I think I did 33 pushups and 40 situps. Haha. Not good.
Then I had to do a two-mile timed run. My right knee was already junk and it hurt a lot but was able to make it one mile jogging. On the second mile/loop my knee just shut down. I had to walk it and I think they said my time was 26 minutes for the two miles. Terrible. Along with my weak ass knee, my balls or peaches as yall were calling them started getting fucked up. I knew they were fucked so I called to the Doc and asked him to look at them cause I didn’t even know what they looked like. When he saw them I saw the look on his face and for the first time, I got some sympathy. Haha. They fucking hurt!!!
A short while after I had another med check and the last question they asked was are you afraid of dark spaces or being enclosed in tight areas. I said “no” and than a black bag was put on top of me. Someone grabbed my hand walked me fast and spun me around in circles. They then put me in the back of a pickup truck an we started driving. I was told not to move back there which was fine with me, I just layed in that truck bed and closed my eyes and chilled out. I used it as a much needed break.
We then got somewhere and they took me out spun me around some more then took off the bag. We were in the middle of a field at a school. They put me thru some games there. Well games to them more work for me. It was fucking freezing out and I was soaked. They put mad ice cubes on the grass and I had to kneel and put my hands on the ice just to make sure I was cold enough. This all lasted probably an hour and I was told to change my socks.
The Long Walk. I was pumped to start this. I knew it was coming to an end. My knee was shit but I was pretty motivated to get going. I walked through the town of Bellbrook which was nice. Looking at houses and cars. American flags everywhere.
Then all the sudden we turned off the road and went onto a trail. This is when my eyes started playing tricks on me. Haha. I started hallucinating. It was in the dead of night and the leaves covered the trails. They were all different colors, some dying.
Everything on the ground looked like something. Sea horses, snakes, portraits of people. All kinds of shit. It was weird cause I knew it really wasn’t there but you can’t do anything to help. I just stayed quiet and kept hobbling along. At one point I looked up and there was a huge fucking boat. I knew this wasn’t there for sure but man did that shit look real. So I asked the Cadre if it was normal and they laughed and told me to find my spirit animal. I had to take a break about every 5 minutes cause of my legs and lower back.
After about 10 seconds the Cadre would ask me if I wanted to quit and then I’d move along. This repeated for hours and hours. The sun seemed to never come up, then it popped up. As soon as I saw the smallest part of the sun, I felt a sense of relief. That walk was a nightmare and my knee and balls weren’t helping!
The Long Walk continued for quite a while longer into the day. I was with Cadre Cody and Cadre BD. These two dudes are fucking cool!!! I’m sure all the Cadre are but I really bonded with them even though conversations were minimal. At one point for maybe 10 minutes Cadre BD talked to me about some good stuff. I haven’t talked to my father in years and don’t care to and don’t even remember when the last time I had a father-son talk (me being the son) but that’s how this conversation was with us. It was nice! Thanks, BD. Shortly after this, the Long Walk ended, I was back in the water at the starting point.
They hammered me pretty good here. I was really worried about how fast I was performing cause my knee was so fucked up by this point. My body never shuts down like it was doing so it was a weird feeling because my head was still normal but my body wasn’t reacting to what I needed it to do. FRUSTRATING!
I couldn’t do lunges for the life of me and they kept making me do them. Anything that involved me bending my knee was not pleasant. This is when the live stream started so most of you have seen the rest. (I didn’t know it was happening but I got to see it the next day.) I threw a sandbag to the top of the hill and saw a bunch of buckets up there. Little did I know they were gonna be thrown on me. I thought they were for me to carry.
They hammered me with that overhead stuff with water going into my face. My ruck was so fucking heavy. I wish I could have weighed it just to know. I think it was prob 75lbs. Maybe heavier but who knows. I was weak as shit.
The Cadre told me to turn around and walk backward then all of the sudden it was done.
Just like that.
5 months of torture, a beat up body, and some fucked up peaches! But it was done!
All the Cadre came and hugged me we snapped some pictures and I got to see my family. The best part!!! I sat down, forced a beer down, and ate my pulled pork, collard greens, and cornbread. Whoever said the best-tasting beer happens after you finish Selection is full of shit. Haha. I can throw beers back and that was tough to stomach.
Thanks again for all the support. Yall made me feel like a rockstar!
Mark Klemm: 035