The brief version is this: Special training was intense and exhausting, draining and painful, and incredibly rewarding, and awesome.
The less-brief (though not comprehensive) version is that I generally got up at 5 am to have some time to wake up before morning practice; line-up was at 5:45 am. We would practice for about an hour and a half before breakfast. There was another practice session between breakfast and lunch, but this was for brownbelts only; there was another general practice in the afternoon, then after dinner, blackbelt practice. For us whitebelts, then, there were "only" two practice sessions per day—each of which was far more intense than any normal practice (with the sole exception of midnight practice, which consisted of doing 1,000 oizuki—front punches—but which, on the other hand, was at midnight).
The most exhausting practice was kicking practice—1,000 kicks. I thought my legs were going to fold. The sweatiest was kata practice (100 repetitions of tekki shodan). By far the hardest and most painful was kibadachi practice.
Kibadachi ("horse riding stance") is a stance used primarily for certain side kicks. To assume kibadachi, stand with your feet about (or just over) shoulder width apart, pointing forward; turn your toes in, just a little bit. Keeping your back straight, lower yourself by bending your knees until you can go no lower. There should be a feeling of pulling your feet together (though they should of course be stationary—this is merely a question of tension). This stance is ... well, it's not a bad stance to assume for a little while. Try holding it for a couple of minutes, though, and it begins to hurt. We had to hold it for 90 minutes—an hour and a half. No breaks. No talking. No fidgeting or looking around or closing your eyes.
It was the mentally hardest and physically most painful thing I've ever done. Trying to explain just how is meaningless—hold the stance for a few minutes, yourself, and try to imagine doing it for over an hour. Suffice to say that one of the blackbelts fell over (twice); people's legs were shaking, and by the time we were finally allowed to stand up, a lot of us were nearly unable to. Walking was nigh impossible.
There were about forty of us doing this (though people over the age of forty only had to do an hour, not an hour and a half). One person "cheated" and rested for a minute or two (by taking a more shallow stance) before being yelled at. One person (one of the blackbelts) fell over backwards with exhaustion after 40 minutes or so (and after being dragged back on his feet by the senior blackbelts, fell on his face after another couple of minutes). The rest of us all made it. I am thus in no way unique, but I made it, and I'm proud of that fact, damn it.
In theory, we had a lot of free time—only three hours of practice per day, not counting the one midnight practice!—but with the intensity of this practice, I was able to do little else save to eat and sleep (and of course watch the blackbelt practices—those were interesting). In conclusion, back in the real world, I must now catch up on homework and readings and ...
Good gods. I think I want to go back to special training, even if I have to do kibadachi practice.