Chadd Wright was a US Navy Seal for 12 years and served on some of the highest performing teams in the world while dealing with the most extreme conditions and situations. During this time he became a SEAL Instructor and Master Training Specialist where he discovered a passion for himself - teaching. As a SEAL, pushing yourself to the limit was the order of the day, but instead of pushing yourself more and thinking about how daunting a task might seem, Wright learned to break down the challenge into smaller pieces in order to complete the mission fulfill. This process is in large part why he was able to excel as an ultrarunner.
It's methods like these, along with others, that he uses with the 3 of 7 Project, a training company that is also the title of Wright and Brother Blake's podcast. Together, the two conduct training missions across the country with the goal of developing people into better people.
"The cool thing about the wilderness is that it tears down whatever facades people put on," said Wright's brother, Blake. "It tests them so much it takes everything away from them and you get to see the true essence of who they are because of how they function when all hell breaks loose. They are only reduced to their simplest form. When that happens they can see things that they couldn't see before because the frontcountry gives you a lot of luxury and comfort where you can work like that.”
Whether training for the next event or spending days in the wilderness, Wright has found a product he trusts in HOIST, the hydration system of choice for the US military and supporters of veterans returning to civilian life.
Fresh from an off-grid backpacking trip, Wright sat down with Muscle & Fitness to share the principles he lives by, why ultrarunning gives him the opportunity to practice what he teaches and what it takes to be one of his trips to survive.
Practice what you teach
Somehow I became a mentor or influencer for people through social media and many other avenues. What I've found with ultrarunning is that it keeps me grounded. I think the word "coach" has been watered down so much these days. I believe if you want to become an influencer or a coach, you have to be out there to do it. For me, ultrarunning is the arena where I can say I'm going to go out and test myself at a high level. I will put the principles I teach other people to the test. I will learn new things about myself and continue to challenge myself. It's my arena that keeps me sharp and relevant and gives me real confidence as a coach and influencer. It shows that the things I say aren't just theory, I practice them daily, and they work, and I win with those principles. This isn't something I started 10 years ago or something I'm rehashing from a book I've read. Ultimately, our chosen way of life is a privilege that we must earn every day. If I'm going to talk to you about how you can improve, I have to earn my position to talk to you about it.
body, soul and spirit
When I was a SEAL, towards the end of my career, I become a Master Training Specialist. I love teaching and it's a real passion of mine. I also love developing people into better people - body, soul and spirit. We use this wilderness environment to develop humans. The podcast is all about fitness, mental toughness and our spiritual relationship with God, being Christians. We believe that everyone has a spiritual side. 3 represents body, soul and spirit. Seven is the number for completion. So, in everything we do, we try to develop a person's body, their soul, which consists of their mind, will and emotions, and then their spirit - to give them a complete fullness of life. We conduct many different training missions across the United States. Everything from wilderness excursions, 140-mile kayaking missions, and missions in high alpine environments at 12,000 feet above sea level. To bring it all home, when we go on a mission, it's not about teaching you how to be a better natural or how to survive. You learn these skills, but ultimately we want you to grow as a person.
The most important advice we give from the start and I think that helps everyone who trains with us is the three pillars of my life and what has made it possible for me to be so good at ultra running, field training and all those things that I've done are quite challenging. The first is that you need to be patient with yourself, the process, and your team members. The second is that you must remain present, which means you must be where your feet are. The third is that you must be deliberate in your actions. With every step you take, you need to be conscious of your thoughts, words, and interactions with those around you. If we can get you to be patient, stay biased, be thoughtful in everything you do, then you're safe out there. You will fulfill the mission and get the most out of the time we can spend with you as a student.
It's a lot easier said than done. It's easy when I tell you to be patient, but when you've been on your feet for 16 straight hours, climbed the side of a mountain to a 5,000-foot ridge and are just so exhausted you think you can it Don't go any further, it can be difficult. You have to be present and you just have to release it. You have to look at the tree in front of you and just say, "I'm going to come to that tree, and that's a win."
coming out on the other side
I see the biggest changes in people learning how to lead and be led. I see people actually learning what it feels like to lead and make decisions and what it looks like to be led by someone who may be stronger when they are weak. I see people learning how to actually form a team and move towards a goal together as one. Believe it or not, people don't know how to do this. They can tell you they know, but if you put them in a situation and say actually do it, they don't understand. I see people learning how to use a chain of command. I see people learning to communicate with each other and spread information in a group, learning to support each other in really concrete ways when someone can't carry the burden of an 80 pound backpack on their back. They have to learn to support each other because they realize that we all have to achieve this goal as a unit and that you just can't be an individual out there.
You must be a team member and lead when it is your turn. You need to listen and learn how to communicate. All of these things are burned into me. For me, as a former SEAL, that's normal. I have operated on the highest performing teams in the world. I was amazed to discover two years ago that these weren't common skills and traits shared by civilians or corporate teams. They like to talk about it, but they don't really know how to go about it.
There is no giving up
The fundamental element of it all is that I had to take quitting off the table. matter what is put in front of me, I've learned that you have to make a decision, that you won't give up because I have to keep going. If I had to find a new direction to get where I want to go, that's only part of the process. One of the great lessons I learned in SEAL training is that the number one reason people stop doing anything tough is because they are overwhelmed by the big picture. I've seen so many guys in BUDS SEAL training that when the going got tough all they could think about was not being able to do that for six months and then they would stop. We did something simple and the guys stopped because they were thinking too far ahead. Every day in SEAL training I had one goal and that was to make it to breakfast. That was my only goal when I woke up in the morning. After that I made it to lunch. If you can make it to lunch, you'll get through the day. This ability to break up each day and break into small chunks to eventually accomplish something big is absolutely essential. I use it today in my marriage, my business, ultra running, all aspects of my fitness, and my relationship with Christ.
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COMBAT STANDARD TEST
*Test must be performed on full kit (approx. 25 lb. vest simulating body armor)*
My point is to look at fitness as something functional. I always think about it when I train, I want to become a versatile person. Fitness should allow me to get better at some skills. I'm a warrior, so I'm always thinking, how does my fitness match my craft as a warrior, and what can I do to make myself a better warrior? The Combat Standard Test is training designed and tailored to replicate the stress of a real combat scenario.
Start the clock: 60 minutes
- Load the Humvee: 25 front squats (135 pounds)
- Patrol in: 100 calorie attack wheel
- Firefight: 100 burpee to pull ups
- Patrol out: 100 calorie attack wheel