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What is Grit?

grit I grit I noun

  1. Small loose participles of stone or sand

  2. Courage and resolve; strength of character

The time is 0700 when Coach calls us to the whiteboard brief.

“Good morning team. Here is our route. You will need a kettlebell and a sandbag. Wear your weight vest if you have one.”

That was it. No explanation of what we were doing, just a route and some equipment. Not your typical whiteboard brief we have become accustomed to at RCCF. As we gathered our equipment I looked around at the team. One young man in his twenties, a guy in his thirties with his vest already on, and four women of different ages that were all excited, laughing and joking with each other. Not what you would expect in a class called GRIT.

Our Coach, Daniel, is a stocky twenty five year old that looks like he could take you down to the ground in a blink, but has a trusting smile and warm presence. As the coach starts gathering more weights, sleds, and a black barbell that looks more like an axle than a barbell, all I can think is “what the heck are we doing?”

The contraption that coach Dan built had two sleds, both weighing one hundred and thirty five pounds, connected with the axle bar and straps. We had gathered our kettlebells and sandbags, one for each of us.

“All right guys, let's go!” coach yells. “Wait, are we taking everything?” I ask. Everyone looks at me, the obvious newbie, with eyes that just said “welcome to Grit.” Ok, we are taking everything.

We get two guys on the sled using the axle bar as a “harness” like a couple of ox pulling a plow through a field. I’m one of the ox. A couple of our team members carry my kettlebell and sandbag while I work with Bruce to pull the sled to our first stop, about two hundred meters into our journey.

It’s a beautiful, Spring morning in the Front Range of Colorado. The air is crisp and the morning sun is burning off the remaining dew from the cool night air. You can smell Spring as the birds sing their morning songs, announcing a new day. Among the bird songs you can hear the heavy breathing of the group as we all meet at the two hundred meter mark right in front of Colorado Tap House.

People are arriving at the tap house on their bikes ready for coffee. All of them stop to see what we are doing on the ground. We have started push ups to the cadence of coach Daniel’s direction, “Down, Up, Down, Up!” No predetermined repetition count, that we know of, just calling reps. “Ok, rest.” After a short rest he has us do some sprints another two hundred meters down the road. “One more!” We do another. “Ok, let's do one more.” So we do another. “Again!” I’m not sure how many sprints we do, but I do remember that after the sprints we were back on the ground for more push ups. This time however he asks Bruce, the weight vest wearing athlete, to call reps. The moans start.

Time to move on and we continue on our journey down the road with all our gear. A couple of us carrying kettlebells and sandbags run ahead, drop off the weight, run back and help with the sled. Another stop and more work. Pick it up again, continue on. We get about eight hundred meters in when Coach tells us to drop everything and get set up with a sandbag. “Alright team, give me thirty sandbag burpees.” If you haven’t done sandbag burpees just imagine a burpee, but the sandbag goes with you to the ground then gets thrown overhead. We all spread out and get to work. After ten reps I know this is going to get tough quick.

Exhausted, I hear coach yell out, “after you’re done give me twenty push ups.” At this point my arms feel like they are going to fall off, and we are still eight hundred meters from the gym with a ton of gear. “Alright, let's go get some breakfast” says coach Dan. We try to find the most efficient way to carry all the gear and pull the sled. The ladies take the sled, four of them pulling two hundred and sixty five pounds, plus some added weight from the four sandbags we throw on top of the sleds. Coach tells the youngest of the group, Roman, to additionally carry a three foot long stick. Why? We have no idea, but the further we go in Grit the more I start to see the point.

The “suck” factor and sharing the experience with a group of people who have, in a very short time, become your teammates. No clocks, to rep scheme, no idea what we are going to be asked to do at any one moment. We are in the trenches together, working toward one goal, to survive. There are no winners, because we all finished together. No one was done until everyone was done. I guess you could say we were all winners.

The time is now 0800. We worked non-stop for fifty five minutes. “Great job team” yells coach Dan. “Next week I’m gonna have to make it hard for you all” he proclaims. “That wasn’t hard,” I asked myself. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for next week!

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