The most daunting obstacle isn’t always in front of your eyes, but between your ears.
Last week, two less than “thrilled” participants, Beth and Ashley, got up at 5:45am on a Saturday to tackle the Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo Ridge. Physically, they believed they could make it, but mentally they were unsure if they had the grit to conquer all 5 miles and 20 obstacles.
“I repeated over and over that I was going to die,” Ashley said in the days leading up to the race. She had forgotten the race was coming up. Beth reflected, “I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t know how hard it was going to be.”
Neither of them had “trained” very much for the race. Beth focused on treadmill work and had to come to terms that her heart rate was going to be through the roof the whole time. Ashley was in the same boat, except she didn’t run, or walk, outside of the demands of getting to work. She proudly admitted she hadn’t ran in “5 years.”
Why would these 2 even commit to this race? The first answer is: Bob. Bob is Beth’s husband and frenemy of Ashley. He is the provoker of all things challenge, whether it’s a Spartan Race, RD Challenge or head-to-head competition with other RD members. The second answer is, subliminally, they wanted to prove something to themselves. 5 miles, especially up and over a mountain, was a new kind of challenge.
Ashley and Beth have recently tasted victory, in the form of a $3,000 pay out. The winners of RD’s Memorial Day Meltdown Challenge, each walked away with $1,000 for being a part of the 3 person team that gained the most muscle and lost the highest percentage of body fat. Ashley had also completed the 10,000 swing challenge while Beth has ran other, “cleaner” obstacles course races.
Since the challenge, their training included kettlebell swings and other full body exercises, but nothing that might be considered “obstacle race” preparation. It was reassuring to them that what they do in the gym carried over tothe physical demands of a Spartan Race. At Results Driven, we spend time on the ground, carry things, hang and move our bodies in unusual ways. The worry for them was that they wouldn’t be prepared for all of the running, but Beth remarked, “at the end, even though it was super difficult, we did really well. That felt good.”
The results affirmed Beth’s feelings. Beth came in 31st place for her age group, 220 out of all female racers and 1055 of all racers, men and women. Beth described Ashley’s performance as, “amazing,” finishing 7th in her age group, 31st out of all 1,650 women and 359th out of all 4459 participants.
From a coaches point of view, it’s no wonder these two ladies kicked this much butt. When they put their minds to something, they kill it. Ashley finished the 10,000 swing challenge with one arm after her other hand came up lame. Beth was a vegetarian for 3 months, has some of the best technique at RD, and takes time outside of the gym to learn from StrongFirst Instructors like Master SFG Phil Scarito and StrongFirst Team Leader Artemis Scantalides.
They both agreed that Results Driven helped them exceeded their expectations. “I never would have done it otherwise,” said Beth. The mental challenge was the hardest obstacle to get over for Ashley. When it came to the race, she looked back at her past experiences with challenges in the gym and told herself, that she needed to, “stop saying, ‘I can’t,’ and start saying, ‘I can.’” The race also shed light on their next goal: pull-ups are on both Beth and Ashley’s radar.
Exercise should be seen as a end to a means. A functional body is one that is uninhibited and able to fully express itself. Beth and Ashley take their training at RD seriously, and outside of the gym, enjoy climbing, hiking and living life to the fullest. In the end, their pursuit of physical fitness led them to discover new limits to their mental fortitude. Job well done!