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What It’s Like to Train with a Navy Seal

Jesse Itzler, the 100-Mile Man, is no stranger to hard work—but this is ridiculous

You’d be hard-pressed to find a resume that rivals Jesse Itzler’s. The father of three has dabbled in the music industry, the coconut water business and the world of private jets. Heck, he’s even an ultramarathon runner, having conquered the amazing feat of running 100 miles in 22 hours. So it comes as no real surprise that four years ago, Itzler tracked down a Navy Seal and invited him to live inside his Manhattan apartment for a month to train him.

Fittingly, the rapper turned entrepreneur documented the entire experience in his new book, Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, on sale today. Here, Itzler gives a sneak peek into the rigorous training he endured with Rambo—from sleeping in a wooden chair to midnight runs through blizzard conditions.

So, why’d you do it?

A big reason was I wanted to incorporate some of his determination and “no excuse” attitude into my marathon training, but I also wanted to change up my routine. Every day I was reading the same paper, going to the same office, having the same breakfast, going to dinner and repeat. I wanted him to shake up my world so I could do things differently and do them better.

Walk me through some of the things he made you do. 

He was very unorthodox; there was no real rhyme or reason to him. He celebrated blizzards and harsh weather. We would wait until the peak of the storm to do our training. He slept in an oxygen-deprivation tent in our apartment, so that gives you a sense of what I was dealing with. 

The first night, I slept in a wooden chair, jumped into a frozen lake and ran four miles every four hours for 48 hours. He would make me spend an entire day at work with a 50-pound weighted vest on. It was a variety of mental and physical challenges that were super hard and made the rest of my life feel easy.

Did any of your friends and family try to talk you out of it? 

They were fascinated by it. I think they were glad that they weren’t in this movie and could still watch it.

What motivates you?

I love newness. I love the honeymoon period. I’m always looking for new ideas and new challenges. I’m not afraid of getting egg on my face and I’m not afraid to fail. After that box is checked, I’m immediately looking for the next thing.

What’s the secret to your success?

It’s all about putting a different spin on something. The secret sauce is that I’m a big “shock and awe” guy so I try to over-deliver and create surprises that are memorable and that people will love.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneur hopefuls? 

Play the right position. Do what you do best and hire people around your weaknesses.

Nail the three P’s: product, price and packaging. All three of those things have to be right to really have great success.

Be patient. It’s almost impossible to catch lightning in a bottle right out of the gate.