I am happy to announce that I am in fact a TOUGH MUDDER as of November the 3rd. On this date, I completed a ten-mile run combined with approximately twenty obstacles in around four hours. These obstacles included jumping into ice water, climbing fifteen foot walls, crawling through pipes, and lots of mud. While I have run many road races when I was much younger and a 1/2 marathon last December, I have never done any races with obstacles. To make it even more challenging for me, I ran the race with a team of people of which I only knew one person until the night before the race. Teamwork in this sort of challenge is crucial to getting through some of the obstacles. I am a private, shy person, so participation in a group that I am not familiar with is way out of my comfort zone. But more importantly than just completing it, I had a really great experience. It was a great experience because I finished, I did not get hurt, and I met a great group of teammates that I can now call my friends. Are you wondering if I was awesome at the actual race? The answer is no. My knees started to hurt at about mile 8, so I could not run as well as I wanted. I also skipped a couple of the obstacles because I was so cold that I could not bear to take another swim in cold, muddy water. But, the benefits of the experience far out weighted the scrapes and bruises and few disappointments I had. I wanted to share this experience with you because I learned a few things about myself that may be beneficial to you.
The first thing I already knew but had reinforced with the Tough Mudder is the IMPORTANCE AND BENEFIT OF GETTING OUT OF MY/YOUR COMFORT ZONE. With this, I am meaning both your physical and mental comfort zone. For me, I got out of my physical comfort zone with all of the obstacles and my mental comfort zone with the obstacles (and my fear of them) and the group dynamic. The benefit of stepping out of your comfort zone is that this is where growth occurs both physically and mentally. Physically, when you repeatedly step out of the comfort zone, you will become stronger and faster. While one race did not make me stronger physically, I did feel soreness in muscles that I have not used in a while and was inspired to work at regaining some of this strength. Mentally, stepping out also makes you stronger and more confident. Personally, forcing myself to meet and work closely with my wonderful teammates resulted in a new group of friends, greater confidence in myself socially, and an increased comfort level for the next time I am in a similar situation. To go along with this is the concept that the fear/nervousness you feel about something is usually worse than what will actually happen. The bottom line and my advice to you is DO NOT LET YOUR FEAR AND APPREHENSION STOP YOU FROM STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I often tell my clients that if you keep doing things the same way you always have, you will keep getting the same results.
The second thing I learned about is the IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT AND TEAMWORK. My nutrition and exercise clients are always telling me how important that the easy, quick email access they have to me and the support/encouragement I give them is. Many of my clients continue with me on a monthly basis after their initial program for ongoing exercises but also for the support/accountability. For me, I love being encouraging and supportive for my clients, but do not thing I have understood the significance before now. I am a very independent person, I workout alone, and typically do not seek the mental/emotional help of others. This is probably because I spend most of my time with my kids and do not want to burden them and because I guess I have a little bit of a fear of others thinking I am silly and/or weak. But from the Tough Mudder, I learned that teamwork and support are important to me as well. They gave me the physical help I needed to complete some of the obstacles that I was not strong enough for. They also gave me the mental strength to both try the obstacles I was scared of and to finish out the race, even when I was in pain. The bottom line is that I learned (although I probably already should have known it) that teamwork and support make you stronger both in the group and on your own and allow you to accomplish things you could not have done before.
The final thing that was reinforced by the completion of the Tough Mudder is the IMPORTANCE OF TAKING TIME FOR MYSELF. Taking time for myself, as I am sure it is for most moms, is very hard. I homeschool my children Monday through Friday and work on Saturday and Sunday. I also have never left my children with anyone but family. To have a family member watch my children for anything but a necessary appointment or work, makes me feel guilty. So, the idea of taking off work on a Sunday and leaving my kids did make me feel guilty and self-indulgent. In this particular case, I probably would have cancelled if I had not been part of a team. But I am thankful that I did take this time for myself. It was one of the first times in a really long time that I have taken a whole day for me (without using for work) and focused on me and having fun. So, taking this time for me had the following benefits: a mental break, physical workout, friendship, and lots of laughing and fun. I woke up the following Monday a little sore but feeling invigorated, happy, and refreshed. So for me, this translated into me signing up for a similar race next March and making time for me to return to the gym several times a week to work at my strength. For you, my advice is to take time for yourself to do whatever renews and restores you.
I write this article, not encouraging everyone to run a Tough Mudder, but to encourage all moms to go out and do something for themselves. It all goes back to the concept that by taking care of yourself first, you can do a better job of taking care of everyone else.