Save 17% with an Annual Subscription

Six Lessons From a 50-Mile Ruck

What I learned during the 80th anniversary Normandy ruck.

Six Lessons From a 50-Mile Ruck
Early in the ruck, the group everyone is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Post Summary

  • I just finished a 50-mile ruck in Normandy, France, for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.
  • It was an incredible experience. A marriage of effort and experience to commemorate an act that 80 years ago saved the world.
  • I'll cover six lessons in mindset, fitness, and living well I learned along the way.


  • This post, like all 2% posts published Monday, is free to all subscribers. Enjoy.
  • If you want full access to Wednesday and Friday posts, become a Member.

Podcast of this post

  • We'll release this later today.

The post

I'm in Normandy, France and staying on Omaha Beach, where 80 years ago Thursday Allied forces invaded and laid the foundation for victory on the Western Front.

I'm writing this after finishing a 50-mile ruck commemorating the invasion. I've been up for 40 hours. My body feels like it was hit by a Mack truck and then tossed into a stump grinder.

And, as my great friend Jason McCarthy—founder of GORUCK, who put on the event—told me when I passed him along the ruck, "Everything hurts, and I love it."

Roughly 140 amazing humans rucked overnight from Utah Beach to Omaha Beach, with various waypoints along the way (here's the full map).

It was an epic, beautiful grind of a ruck across hallowed grounds.

Here are six things I learned along the way.

1) Walk and Talk

I loved getting to talk to so many people during the ruck. I had long and interesting conversations with people from the US and Europe.

Everyone had a fascinating story if you ask enough questions.

I'm convinced that there's something to walking and talking—it makes conversations deeper and better conversations. Perhaps it's the activity. Or being shoulder facing. Or being outside. Whatever it is, guards come down.

One anthropologist believes walking on two feet spurred humans to adopt speech. Another study found that walking meetings boost productivity and mood.

When you want to have a great conversation with and really get to know someone, go on a walk, ruck, or run with them.

P.S. Special shoutout to Mike and Lucy Vallely for teaming up with me to complete the 20-mile overnight stretch from Sainte Mere-Igles to the German cemetery. Couldn't have done it without you two.

2) Take Care of Your Feet

I have the following rule: when doing long runs, hikes, or rucks, the moment you feel a hot spot, you take care of it. Apply some tape or switch socks.

I should have listened to my rule. Somewhere around mile 20, I felt a hot spot but wasn't in a great stopping location. So I pushed on to a stopping point.

This was a miscalculation. When I eventually took care of my feet, I had some sweeping blisters. I taped them, but they were a pain for the rest of the ruck. I could have avoided that by immediately taking care of them.

And so, a reminder for you this summer hiking season: Take care of your feet. Here's a guide to avoid blisters.

3) Tell Yourself Good Stories

I got lost at about mile 38 and rucked an extra mile in the wrong direction. This, as it were, was not fun. My feet were in bad shape. I still had more than 10 miles to go. I was running low on water.

But, in a stroke of psychic luck, I recalled my favorite question about mindset: "what story am I going to tell myself?" The stories we tell ourselves determine how a situation impacts us and whether it's a "problem."

So I told myself a different story: This detour guaranteed I covered more than 50 miles. And it gave me a hell of a view of the cliffs on Normandy.

So there you go. Got a problem? What story are you telling yourself about the problem? If you changed the story, would it still be a problem?

4) Stop and Take It In

It's easy to become hyper-focused during a big athletic or fitness event.

You set an arbitrary goal to finish a race or hike within a specific time. So you grit your teeth, put your head down, and hammer it out. The goal becomes finishing.

But getting a certain time isn't the larger point of the event. The larger point is to have an experience. Focusing entirely on finishing fast means you're not focusing on anything else the experience offers. Like the beauty of the world around you.

There are scenes to see, people to talk to, jokes to tell, and much more.

Like, look at this grass rolling in the wind. It was atop one of the cliffs American men climbed—against heavy German fire—so we could all be free. I'll never forget this grass.

5) Keep Your Word

I saw and chatted with many 2-Percenters along the route (you all are the best).

About 42 miles in I passed a guy sitting down to refuel. We exchanged greetings as I passed. Once I was 10 yards past him he yelled, "Wait, are you Michael Easter?" He recognized my voice from the podcast.

I was in a state of exercise-induced delirium and knew that if I stopped, it would be harder to restart. So I quickly said hi, got his name, and told him I'd chat with him at the finish line because I needed to keep the train rolling, or it wasn't going to keep rolling.

Anyway, I couldn't find him at the finish. So, Andrew Corbett, this is me properly saying hello—it was great to meet you.

Keep your word.

6) "Do things that are questionable in the moment, but look awesome in hindsight"

That is a quote from my great friend, the powerful and wise Matt Sherman. To learn more about Matt, watch his amazing talk from Sandlot or read a bit here.

Matt and I started the ruck together and, by luck, ended up rejoining each other with five miles to go.

As Matt and I closed in on the finish line in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy, we were both a mess. Exhausted. Walking goofy thanks to all the miles and effort. Just a couple of totally messed up, physically wrecked human beings.

We laughed as we asked, "Why did we do this?" But we both knew the event was special—something we'd never regret.

This was when Matt said, "I think the lesson is to do things that are questionable in the moment but look awesome in hindsight." Amen.

Have fun, don't die, do things that are questionable in the moment but look awesome in hindsight.


Sponsored by Momentous

Momentous made me feel good about supplements again. Over 150 professional and collegiate sports teams and the US Military trust their products, thanks to the company’s rigorous science and testing. I don’t have the time or desire to cook perfectly balanced meals that give me all the necessary nutrients and protein I need (let’s face it, few of us do!). So I use their collagen in the morning; Recovery protein during hard workouts; essential multivitamin to cover my bases; creatine because it’s associated with all sorts of great things; and Fuel on my longest endurance workouts on 100+ degree days here in the desert (because Rule 2: Don’t die). And I also love (love!) that Momentous is researching and developing women-specific performance supplements.

**Use discount code EASTER for 15% off.**

Sponsored by Maui Nui Venison

Axis Deer provides the healthiest meat on the planet. That's according to researchers at Utah State, who compared axis deer meat to beef and found that it contains 1 to 64 times more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. It also contains 53% more protein per calorie than beef. Equally important is that Maui Nui solves ethical considerations around meat. Axis Deer are an invasive species ravaging the Hawaiian island of Maui, and Maui Nui harvests the deer at night in a stress-free way, improving the ecosystem.

My picks: I like it and eat everything from Maui Nui, but the 90/10 Organ Blend is particularly great for people looking to get more micronutrients in their diet, and the Jerky Sticks are my go-to travel snack.

**Use discount code EASTER for 20% off.**

Sponsored by GORUCK

When I decided to accept sponsorships for this newsletter, GORUCK was a natural fit. Not only is the company's story included in The Comfort Crisis, but I've been using GORUCK's gear since the brand was founded. Seriously. They've been around ~12 years and I still regularly use a pack of theirs that is 11 years old. Their gear is made in the USA by former Special Forces soldiers. They make my favorite rucking setup: A Rucker 4.0 and Ruck Plate.

**Use discount code EASTER for 10% off**