OK, let me level with you. You have the ability to hit your goal.
You probably missed a training session or two. You might not have grunted out as many miles as you had hoped. Injury might have threatened to take your dreams off their rails.
But the capacity to get this done… it’s there… you just have to own it.
Negative thoughts are going to creep into your head whenever your glucose drops… or if you allow your mind to wander away from the present moment. But you have the power to control what’s going on inside your head… and keep the carbs flowing.
Is it going to hurt? Hell yeah it will. That’s what you signed up for. Be prepared for the pain. I always greet it like, “Oh there you are, I’ve been waiting to wrestle with you.” Pain is all part of the experience.
So few people now a-days get to truly experience pain. To wrestle their inner demons and beat them down. To strip away everything and see what they’re made of. To become ultra.
The more tired you get, the more you push back. The more of you that gets pulled back, the deeper you dig.
You must commit to the experience. When you press that races register button, you need to fully commit to the experience. To the pain, to the fatigue, to the discomfort.
Even though endurance races are long, they are really only a tiny fraction of your lifetime… a drop in the ocean. But their lessons, those crazy out-of-this-world experiences, last forever. And they, like no other moments in your life, have the capacity to fundamentally change who you are and how you can experience the rest of your life. From the mundane to the traumatic.
In a race like this, there will be challenges beyond those you signed up for. A closed aid station, a lost gel, a broken shoe. Who knows. But you will always be OK. You come back. You keep fighting. You confront each obstacle that is set before you with strength and optimism. And that my friends, is how you win a race (and in this length, let’s get real… it’s a race with yourself).
The beautiful thing about endurance racing is the necessity to live in the moment. There is no future you, no past you. Just primal you… right now, living the reality that is right in front of you. Each comfort is luxury. Every sense altered.
I like to think about the people that inhabited the earth long before we did. How they would have been taking on the terrain. What they would have been going through. Why they were out there.
I also like to think about all the people that would gladly trade places with me. Maybe they’ve passed on. Maybe they’re injured. Or perhaps the most tragic, maybe they’ve just lost touch with their own fitness or sense of adventure.
And I think about all the people that are on course with me at that very moment. Sharing the suffering, sharing the joy, sharing the pain, sharing the experience.
Where gratitude begins, suffering ends.
Of course, gratitude and joy are not the easiest emotions to tap into when your body and soul are bumping up against their breaking points. You’ve probably heard the expression, fake it to make it. If you find yourself in a low point, smile on the outside – until you’re smiling on the inside. And keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Have any other mental or mindset strategies for endurance events? Leave a comment below!
And don’t forget to sign-up for the 7-day Mobility Reset 🙂
We’ve all seen the “Lindsay video” by now. You know… the one where the tiny powerhouse with the big heart effortlessly hauls all her competitors over Everest and then goes on to win the Tougher Mudder World Championship.
What got me was that many of the commenters, seemingly deeply involved in the OCR community, had no idea that in all Tough Mudder events, we help each other.
That’s what makes us mudders.
And I’ve heard more and more competitors talking about how they refuse to buy in. It’s a competitive race right?
Or the rule that if you can do an obstacle solo, you don’t have to help anyone else.
It’s an interesting debate. But I know that even if I can solo Blockness now, I couldn’t before. Or that take the ropes off Everest and I’m useless.
And I also don’t think that matters.
Tough Mudder is so much more than a race – or an event. It always has been. For me it’s a philosophy. A commitment to better myself in body and spirit. A decision that I want to be a part of a community. An understanding that working toward a crazy mental and physical challenge only means anything because of the people I’m out there with.
You can still work toward your goal while lifting others around you up… both literally and figuratively. Case and point, Lindsay.
And the coolest part is that as you get better as an athlete, you get better at muddering. The fitter you get, the easier you are to assist, and the more you can lend a hand over tricky obstacles. It gives a deeper purpose to your training.
But what about elites? If all our goals have value, why let the contenders through?
The same reason you stay to the right on an escalator. If you’re moving at a more relaxed pace, and someone is trying to haul ass up the stairs to get to where they’re going, you step aside. Maybe you’ll even hold the door if you see them coming.
There is almost no better feeling than crushing a lofty goal. But it’s fleeting. Being a good person and living to a higher standard of kindness, brotherhood and compassion brings lasting joy.
Sure it’s kinda cheesy, but it’s true.
It’s not what you do or how successful you are out there on course that matters as a Mudder, it’s who you are.
We humans are a funny creature. There’s something we love about stuffing ourselves silly at holiday meals, even if we feel awful after it.
I’ve gone through more than a few holiday feasts on both ends of the spectrum: trying to make race weight for a fall event while sadly munching celery in the corner – to post season binging, where I could hardly roll myself out of my chair after.
I can easily say my best festive meals were balanced. Enough great food to leave me feeling satisfied, without so much I felt stuffed.
1. Drink a ton of water pre-festivity. Not so much you’re going to land in the hospital with hyponatremia… but enough you’re not thirsty and compensating for mild dehydration with food.
2. Try to time a quick and dirty quality workout before dinner. Your body will then be primed to soak up those calories and put them to good use. Plus food tastes so much better after a workout. Doesn’t it?
3. Stick to the veggie plate for appies and the fruit plate for dessert. Think more about “sampling” the other stuff.
4. Eat your meal on a big bed of greens. Not only will they provide you with a huge hit of nutrients and fill you up, but it’s hard to fit a ton of stuff on your plate when lettuce is threatening to push everything else off.
5. Don’t wear sweat pants… or pyjama pants. Wear pants that don’t give. And for god sakes don’t open the button.
6. I also try not to waste empty calories on stuff I don’t love or isn’t special. If someone baked their grandma’s age old pumpkin pie recipe from scratch, hell yeah I’m eating that. If someone brought cookies from Costco however, not so much. Unless you LOVE cookies from Costco, then those empty calories were not in vain.
7. Relax and enjoy yourself. If someone asked you if you think you could loose 100lbs by only eating kale once a month for a whole day, you’d probably roll your eyes. Same goes with indulging. The key is to not tax your digestive system so much you feel awful… while enjoying a day you will never get to see again with family, friends and food 🙂
Wait, does Costco even sell cookies?
Please feel free to leave your own tips and tricks in the comment section or subscribe to future post by clicking the FOLLOW button.
I recently called him my “secret weapon.”
Not everyone has access to one. I get it. I’m super lucky. My husband was nearly born for the thankless and exhausting task of being pit crew.
With a background in racing, a diploma in Massage Therapy, a tendency to extreme preparedness and an uncanny ability to control nearly any situation – John is the guy you want on your crew.
But I feel like a lot of the things we have learned as a team over these years can be learned… and I thought I’d do my best to get them out there in this top five list.
1 – Give your Spouse a Pass
One of these rounds, your spouse is going to come in – and you won’t even recognize the person they’ve become. One or two hours and they’ll transform into some heinous combination of Sophie from the Golden Girls and a teething baby. In the molar stage. That’s ok. You’ve got this. They’ll find their way back to themselves again. Just give them time, space and a hall pass to act like the Creature from the Blue Lagoon. And whatever you do, don’t take it personally. They just cursed out a wall made entirely of wood.
2 – Know your Athlete
You may know your spouse… but your athlete might be a very different person from them. Some athletes need gentle guidance, some might need a very firm enforcer. Once you figure this out, it’ll be a whole lot easier driving them to their goal and staying in the control seat.
3 – Listen Carefully but Take Control
If you run long enough, your brain starts becoming deficient in carbohydrates. And intelligent thought.
They may be overheating because they jumped into their 4 mil wetsuit prematurely and the temperate never dropped. They feel fluish and lethargic. They’re sweating and their skin is beet red. And yet, they still can’t put their finger on it. More neoprene maybe?
You’re dealing with Ralph Wiggum here. Deep breaths. They’ll thank you once they start feeling better.
4 – Prepare and Anticipate
OK so Ralph comes in 30 minutes before sun-down, and is probably thinking headlamps and strobes, but hopefully you are. Best case scenario, you have a rough chart in terms of what your athlete needs and at what approximate times. If not, get them to make you one.
Of course, it always helps to look a little farther down the pipe when your athlete is just focused on that very next step. It’ll everything a whole lot smoother for everyone.
I like to have things ready for my pit crew for situations I can see arising. Sand storm? Hand me these goggles. Colder than anticipated? Start with the items in this bag and then move to this bag if I start turning blue. Encourage your spouse to go over all the “if’s and when’s” in advance, write it down and go over it with you in detail before the gun goes off.
5- Take Care of Yourself
It’s cliche but… put your own oxygen mask on first. Make sure you’re fuelling, hydrating and moving around when your athlete is out on course. You may even be able to catch a quick cat nap if laps are long enough or you have a pitting partner. Just like knowing your athletes needs, you need to consider your own. If you’re a voracious reader, bring some books… if you’re a social butterfly, pit with a group. The better mood you’re in, the better care you’ll be able to take of your spouse.
Lastly, have fun and celebrate in the success of your spouse. There’s nothing quite as magical as completing a challenging race with the full support of your partner. It’s pretty cool to get to share adventures with the person you love most.
Why on earth am I here?
I had honestly forgotten the answer.
It was cold, it was rainy, and I was about to run through slick mud… traversing slippery obstacles and going under a “dunk wall” in what was definitely going to be very cold water.
This being my first race of the year, I had totally lost touch with the joy of romping through the mud, swinging through obstacles and gliding under barbed wire.
All I could remember was cold. And pain. And misery.
In fact, I couldn’t really tell if I wanted to be here in this moment. Or maybe I just didn’t. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why on earth anyone would want to be here. All sense of this moment, and any following it was lost.
I peeled myself from my snuggly bed before the sun came up, donned some short shorts and a tank top and stood in a shivering mass of spandex and tight muscles waiting for the third AROO.
Surprisingly… barely one second after GO, it all came flooding back.
The rush of charging up a muddy hill with a bunch of fierce ladies throwing down was palpable. I run on my own. A lot. It’s fun. But this. This was AWESOME.
Every obstacle I tackled left me feeling more ready for the next.
Even the ones I failed.
I could have run a lot faster. I could have ran a clean race. I could have pushed harder.
But I didn’t. And it didn’t matter. I was loving every second. Even after my fingers froze and my hands stopped closing.
I think that’s the magic. I don’t know why we freak out. Being out there shuts all that off and you just are. You just do.
Almost as if you’re connected back to a deep sense of challenge, of nature and the elements, of community. We all become one moving mass… jockeying for position and yet advancing together like an ancient tribe chasing down an antelope.
I’m hoping this first race of the year reminds me that my mind might dominate the pre and post race, but my heart always takes over the during. And that’s what matters.
The next day at the Sprint, the plan was just to work hard and see where it got me. It was a huge change from the general sense of dread that hung over me like a cloud Saturday morning.
Nearing the finish line and the final obstacle gauntlet, I was able to move into second. Running a clean race always makes for a good day… especially on a slippery wet course. This of course was in no small part to my awesome coach Yancy and his love of grip and pull training.
If you haven’t got a chance to check out his training, you should. PM me and I’ll see if I can get you a trial code. It’s literally made a world of difference in my obstacle proficiency and general strength.
I was stunned when I first saw the report. Rice: lit up in red on my food sensitivity test. Rice. The only food you can eat on the elimination diet because it’s so universally digestible. Beside it were the words gluten, eggs, dairy and cashews. All the foods.
All the foods that supply the calories in my diet. All the foods I eat before afternoon runs. All the foods I love to eat. Well, now what?
One thing about me is that I easily fall into routine. I could live my whole life eating the exact same thing. I drink out of one coffee mug, prefer one spoon and one bowl. I get that my preschooler wants the pink bowl. I get it.
Thankfully after the initial turmoil of changing my diet entirely, I’ve gotten into a groove. And I’m better for it. Really, all of the foods on my red list are staples in processed food.
In fact, my life is probably a whole lot easier now… since the decision of what to eat never looms over me. I have limited choices since I rely on the pre-made meals in my fridge. It’s the whole “Steve Jobs” turtleneck thing.
Here are the top five things sitting in my fridge right now that have made my cleaning-eating, whole-food powered, plant-strong diet easy peasy:
I have become a huge fan of overnight oats. After crawling off the treadmill in the morning after a crusher workout I can literally just grab a spoon and dig in. Here’s how I make them:
1. Oats: 1/2 cup steel cut oats. They are crunchy, chewy and satisfying.
2. Milk: 1 cup. I use coconut or almond but you can also use dairy or plain yogurt. You could also use protein powder mixed with water.
3. Healthy Fat: I use 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds or 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds and 1 tablespoon of chia. I tried 2 tablespoons of chia one time but it soaked up all the liquid.
4. The Good Stuff: I add 2 tablespoons of sugar-free peanut butter powder and fill the rest with frozen berries. From time to time I also add organic raisins, shredded unsweetened coconut, poppy seeds or whatever I might be craving. If you’re adding nuts or seeds, do so in the morning so they don’t get soft.
I make a bunch of these for the week. You could heat them, but quite frankly, I’m usually too lazy. This is how I roll:
1. Grain or Root Vegetable: Quinoa, amaranth, sorghum or sweet potato. You could also do brown rice or pretty much any other grain or grain-like starch.
2. Vegetables: My go-to’s are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, beets, celery (all cooked) and raw kale and peppers. I pretty much just put whatever I have on-hand in there.
3. Protein: Organic tofu, chicken breast, black beans… the possibilities are endless.
4. Sauce and Seasoning: I almost always put an organic teriyaki sauce on and then sprinkle my favourite thing ever, nutritional yeast (not to be confused with bakers yeast) all over because it makes it tasty cheesy and delicious.
SAUCES, ROASTED NUTS, SALAD DRESSING
These are awesome on salads and Buddha bowls. I often make the Tumeric Pumpkin Seeds from Run Fast, Eat Slow and just put them on everything I eat until they’re gone. Other hits are toasted almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts and pecans. They aren’t as healthy as the raw variety but man are they tasty.
I also put Glory Bowl sauce on everything until its used up. It makes everything taste AMAZING.
And of course, almost everything I eat eventually gets covered in nutritional yeast. It’s packed with B-vits and protein and well, yum.
PREPPED GRAINS / ROOT VEGETABLES
I always have cooked grains on-hand. It makes it super easy to just swap out whole-food grains for whatever the rest of the family is eating like pasta or hamburger buns. If you don’t have them cooked and in the fridge you probably won’t spend the 45 minutes cooking them, so always have them at the ready.
CHOPPED VEGETABLES / FRUIT
This is another huge time saver. When I get back from the grocery store, I chop everything up and put them into their own containers so healthy plant foods are the quickest, easiest snack in my fridge.
I’d love to hear more tips for going clean! Please feel free to add yours in the comments below 🙂
What really made THIS RACE was the people there. Not just being immersed in all things Sparta, and repping Canada. The many languages heard when not a single word was needed to express the most complex of emotions, the coming together of people all over the world to battle the mountain and the obstacles. The lives changed, no matter how diverse.
I finally got chilled after the race when the snow hit (and did it ever hit) and was struggling to untie laces that had over-tightened in the mud and by my own pre-race jitters. A man came over and knelt beside me, explaining he didn’t speak much english… then he proceeded to claw his way through the knot. This is SPARTA.
It’s ok to for things to not be ok. It’s also ok to not be ok that things are not ok.
Performance wise, I had a terrible race weekend.
I did get to run with some of the best in the sport, and spend time with some of my favourite people, doing what I love best.
So really, it was a phenomenal weekend. But am I totally ok?
Nope. No I’m not. And I cannot convince myself otherwise.
The Super on Saturday morning featured some added frosty-dewy challenge. I slid off the balance beam and then rig. Then I missed my spear. At the rope climb, I grabbed a rope that was coated with thick gooey mud and shot right to the bottom. 30 burpees at the finish line and my first failed rope climb. I dropped from second to fourth. Sunday in the Sprint Race, I choked on the balance beam and then missed my spear.
So many burpees.
The awesome thing about obstacle racing is that you always go home with homework. Something to improve. A way to make yourself a better athlete.
In that sense it’s these races that teach us the most. These ugly times where we cross the finish line with burnt-out triceps and stains on our chests, that offer us the most.
But they still suck. And I’m ok with that too.
If we jumped the fire 120 burpees down and with any sort of indifference, we wouldn’t go home with the same lessons: the same drive to fix the chinks in our armour.
We need both the sting of loss – and the appreciation for it’s honesty to drive us on.
My oldest daughter starts kindergarten this week. And to be perfectly honest, I have trouble embracing it. But a good friend pointed out how much one-on-one time I’ll have with my youngest and how many great times lie ahead with my growing munchkin.
In the mud, and in life, I guess it’s ok to not be ok… so long as you keep moving forward.
So it’s your first Spartan Race and you’re not sure what to expect? Read on for two top ten lists that will help you get to the start line easy.
Pack a Bag
A well packed bag is worth it’s weight when you’re dealing with the elements. Here’s a few of the items that have earned their way into my nap sack the hard way:
- Government issued photo ID and a completed waiver WITH my bib number on it (look it up online so you can save time and headache morning of.)
- An extra pen and cash.
- Sunscreen (and gloves to apply it), lip chap, deodorant and a comb.
- Gloves, compression sleeves, tights, a tank top and shorts (in case the weather changes).
- Blister pads, band-aids and body glide.
- Soap, a scrub mit, quick dry towel and a water-proof bag to keep dirty clothes.
- An outfit that is warm, snugly and easy to get into with wet skin. No tights. Lord no tights.
- Slip on shoes. I would advise against flip-flops if you plan to stay at the festival area for any length of time since they are hard to walk in if the ground is uneven or muddy (or more than likely both).
- Gloves, toque and winter jacket to stay warm before and after even in June.
- A bottle of water and some snacks. They’ll usually have a Clif Bar and some water or FitAid for you but it’s better to be over prepared when it comes to essentials.
It can be a scary experience showing up for the first time. I figured I’d condense the experience so that you can fully know what to expect before the gun goes off. After that third AROO, you’re on your own. You’ll know at the finish line as they say.
- Be familiar with the route to the race and where to park. Bring cash for parking as there is usually a charge ($10 is common).
- Arrive early. You should have time to register, warm-up, go to the bathroom and check your bag. And you should have plenty of padding in case things go sideways.
- Hopefully you have your printed waiver (with bib number) and ID ready. If not, sign a waiver at the first table and look up your bib number on the big wall. You absolutely need to have ID to pick up your kit.
- Enter the lane that corresponds with your bib number. Hand them your waiver and tell them your bib number. Show them your ID.
- They’ll give you an envelope. The headband goes around your head, numbers to the front. The blue chip gets threaded through the yellow band and affixes to your wrist (you want it tight enough it does not come off but not so tight it interferes with the mobility of your wrist). Sometimes they’ll be a little chip that zap straps onto your shoe laces instead. If you’re elite, they’ll possibly give you a sweat band for your arm. Although you’re probably not reading this if you’re elite.
- There may be a marking station in case you want to write your number on your arms (or forehead or whatever). It’ll help you better find yourself in photos later… and you’ll have a badass looking momento for days.
- Apply sunscreen with gloves so you don’t grease up your hands, do any last minute adjustments to your wardrobe and make sure your shoelaces are triple knotted.
- Go for your easy warm-up jog and do some drills and dynamic stretches. This is also a good time to scope the course a bit and find out where the start, port-potties and bag check are.
- Use the washroom and check your bag.
- Aim to be in the pit at least 10 minutes before your wave ready to go!
Last but not least have fun and relax. If you need help, ask. Spartans are more than happy to help.