My Experience Trying To Attend "Hell Week" At The MDK Project
I had a crazy experience that taught me many great lessons the past few days, so I want to share it with you... About two months ago, I was speaking in California and I was able to connect with Bedros Kulian, another one of the speakers. He runs an event called "The Modern Day Knight Project" that is essentially a reenactment of Hell Week for Navy Seal training.
This year, one of my big goals is to do four events that push me past where I am comfortable. I thought this sounded like a fun event to start with. I was still in decent shape from the fall when I got into the best shape of my life, but I also knew I needed to be in better condition to do this.
I didn't realize until I did the event that I would have needed to be in the best shape of my life to complete this. I learned so many things in such a short amount of time, so I want to share them with you... We started Tuesday at 1:00 pm and here's how it went.
1:00 - Fitness Test - 1-mile run, 100 push-ups, 100 squat thrusts, 100 crawl-outs, and another mile run all under 75 minutes. (This was the easiest part of the day.)
Next, we loaded up a big backpack and a 10 lb sledgehammer and headed off on a trail run up and down mountains and hills for an hour.
When we got to the end of the hike, we began climbing and bear crawling and stomach crawling up a mountain for an hour.
Then we did the trail run back... At this point, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee and knew I was in trouble.
When we got back to the compound, we were introduced to the "PIT"... This thing is a dirt field full of rocks, shards of cement, trenches, and railroad tracks... It's about 50 yards across and .6 miles long. We spent the next several hours doing gassers running sprints across it, mixed in with stomach crawls, crawling on our back, and bear crawling across it.
It was also raining the whole time and oddly cold for California... Somebody said it was 39-45 degrees the entire night.
And also, about every 15 minutes or so, they would have us jump in a horse trough of cold water just so we were soaking wet covered in mud the full time.
After that, we had an hour in the classroom where we had a dry pair of shorts and a shirt to put on. We then went in and jousted each other for about an hour. I got my bell rung pretty good once; that was the most fun part of the night, although exhausting.
Then we assumed the night would get easier and maybe we would get some food but instead, it was back out to the PIT. This was especially bad because it had begun to pour rain again, so they had us just put our wet, muddy, cold clothes back on. At this point, my knee got tight, having been sitting around, and I knew I would have some issues. We started to stomach crawl again and after about an hour of not being able to bend my leg, I knew it was time to tap out. Sharp pain in my knee was all I needed to know that I didn't want to hurt myself any worse. It was just after 1:00 am... The total experience for me was exactly 12 hours.
I've had a full day to contemplate the experience now and I'm trying to decide what to make of it all... I have a lot of thoughts. Here are some of them:
1. I had absolutely no business trying to do this event. Five years ago, I ran a marathon with no training and I suffered from it for the following week but I pushed through the pain for the 5 hours and 9 minutes. This wasn't the same. I couldn't keep pushing because it was a 75-hour event and the body needs to repair. I didn't train as I needed to and I paid the price. The classic example of not being prepared.
2. Sometimes in life, we have to try things to know what we want and don't want in our lives. I've often questioned if I shouldn't have gone the military route and after doing this event, I have never been so sure that I did my life exactly the way I should have! I wouldn't have known that without putting myself out there for this event.
3. I have never been more grateful for the men and women of the military and what they go through for the rest of us. What I was suffering through for just that one night I imagine the soldiers in Vietnam, World War 2, and all the others was much worse and for years at times. I remember hearing stories about the Civil War soldiers not having shoes in the winter... I can't imagine. I just honor them.
4. It's essential to have a big "Why" with everything you do. In this case, my " why " was simply to have a cool experience and see what it was like. That was it. And that is why I didn't train properly. I didn't have a big enough why, so ultimately, I failed.
5. It's important to listen to your body and sometimes you have to get your ego out of the way. I told myself before I went that I wouldn't quit no matter what. I know myself. I know I can push through a lot of pain. As I was sitting there, I realized that I had to think that permanent damage to my knee just to prove I was "man enough" to push through this was going to be a decision I would regret for the rest of my life. It wasn't worth getting injured any worse.
I don't think I've done it justice about how difficult this event was. This was the 12th session of men and on the 5th session, a guy actually died. They have a memorial ax in his honor hung up in the classroom. I was only there for 12 hours and it was more challenging than the summit day of Mt Kilimanjaro. I have the highest respect for the men still out there right now. I was humbled by this event and realized that at 40, I damn well better train for any brutal physical test going forward. I'm grateful I got these lessons, grateful to Bedros and his team for pushing me, and thankful I get to share it with all of you.
I'll never regret putting myself out there. Life is all about experiences and I'll gladly add this to my list!