Q&A with GORUCK GRT Renee Aly

Renee is someone I love and admire. When I think of resilience she is always the first person that comes to my mind. She is a lovely paradox of tenderness and strength all in one petite human. She inspires so many with her unbreakable spirit and has accomplish great feats in her Go Ruck community with that spirit. What amazes me most about her physical accomplishments though is that she is not competing with the other member in her community, she competes only with herself, striving to go beyond the things that try to limit her, and go beyond she does.


Q&A with GORUCK GRT, Renee:

Q: What motivates you?
A: Humanity and the pursuit of a truly accepting attitude toward others

Q: How did you get into GORUCK?

A: A friend told me about it and encouraged me to sign up for a Tough. While I had fewer than a dozen miles of rucking experience at the time of the challenge, I had a very strong trail running base. My feet definitely hurt in a whole new way in those early morning hours but I got through it and, obviously, went back for much more.

Q: How has GORUCK changed you?

A: My time in the GORUCK community has coincided with significant personal struggles which have finally resulted in much needed changes in my life. In some ways, it’s hard to separate those. I think one element has benefited and encouraged the other at several points along the way.
That being said, GORUCK has given me an arena in which to develop physical and mental confidence that’s integrated with situational awareness and a well-developed worldview. The breadth and depth of this cannot be overestimated. For me, it goes beyond understanding the life of those in the military better. Through rucking, I’m able to spend many hours bonding with people with vastly different experiences. Showing up means committing to work with a team of unknown quantities. That’s a tremendously empowering experience. You love and appreciate people more fully once you get comfortable with putting yourself aside to accomplish a shared goal.

Q: How has GORUCK challenged you?

A: My childhood was defined by long-standing sexual and emotional abuse. I can’t recall a time before that happened and I can’t imagine a life without that reality. As a result, I fight some tough internal battles in terms of self-worth and trust. 

For me, there are many potential ‘triggers’ in the event setting - I don’t know some of the people I’m working with; some events are overnight; sometimes we’re harshly reprimanded or punished; some elements involve being physically close or being touched. Any of these can send me deep into mental darkness which affects my physical performance. I’ve had events where I can carry a lot of weight without tiring and others where I can barely keep walking. The difference isn’t about preparation. It’s about old but powerful demons taking over. I find a lot of value in continuing to put myself in situations that test my ability to resist the effects of known triggers. It’s the most fun exposure therapy I can think of.

Q: What keeps you going once you hit a wall?

A: Honestly? Sometimes, nothing. I say that because pushing through physically for me isn’t all that difficult. However, if my mind gets locked on repeating past messages of being unworthy, I can become nearly immobile. I’m slowly learning to reject those thoughts more quickly and not let them take over. Sometimes, that’s repeating a mantra to myself. Sometimes, it’s remembering an opposing message someone gave me - a statement of my value or worth. 

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of rucking?

A: Being short and lighter than most in the sport. I intentionally train to minimize the effect on
performance of having a shorter stride length and working under a greater weight-to-body mass ratio

Q: What single word do you most relate to?
A: Persevere
Q: What three character traits closely describe you?
A: Empathetic. Aware. Lacking trust.
Q: What is something you find beautiful?

A: The opportunity to keep working on my quality as a human
Q: What do you find unattractive?
A: Entitlement and lack of emotional intelligence
Q: Who inspires you?
A: My children. They know me better than anyone and have become exceptional people despite my shortcomings as a mother.

To follow Renee’s GORUCK adventures and read more of her writing give her a follow on Instagram @_renee_aly_