Was it to be a typical session?
Firstly, there is no such thing as typical. Every Obstacle Course Training Session is unique. This is determined by weather, participants abilities and group dynamics. But one thing that can be guaranteed is that no 2 sessions are the same. This is an important starting point to training. Repetition is like walking around blinkered. It is confining and is a form of isolation that limits the way your mind and body functions and how it can develop.
On Sunday we had a mixed ability group all training for Tough Mudder. We had seasoned and we had one newby. The one thing that needed to be shared was the need for comradeship. You see on event day you cannot complete the course on your own. You have to understand that that you help, they help and together you get through it. It is not about asking or waiting to be asked. If you are struggling out of a trench you just feel someone’s hand pushing you from behind to help you up. Then all you can do is turn around and help the next. With this in mind we had the group working together as a Tough Mudder Team!
Mud, mud and mud was the order of the day. Wet mud, clay mud, sludgy mud, deep mud, slippery mud. But you can’t fight it. You have to befriend it , work with it, adapt to it. When you fight it, it will sucks you up, it takes your shoe as a hostage, it will make your life hell. And then the fun stops.
Mud is our new best friend. We learn how to work it, how to run in it. How to crawl in it. But we never take it for granted. You cannot take your eyes of it for one moment. They stay peeled to it. And so does your mind. Get distracted and your over, and if your lucky you just get a bit more muddier. If you are unlucky you end up injured. Classic injury is an ankle injury. So we train hard, and thoroughly. We teach you how to adjust your stride to pulling rather than pushing. How to feel your general centre of mass (GCM). How to stand firm , how to run with confidence, strength and agility both physically and mentally.
We bear crawled, crab crawled, frog leaped, laterally crawled and then we mixed it altogether. Bringing variations and adaptions in as we manoeuvred over under and around the forest floor. You need to crawl to develop centre muscles such as abs, deltoids (shoulders), legs, triceps. Crawling will enable you to get through the tunnels, the pipes, under the barbed wire, over and under and through the obstacles. They will get you up and down the the mud slopes when you only wished you could stand up for just a moment.
You develop more strength and dexterity in your fingers, and wrists. We teach you how to use your body weight to optimize gravity, the greatest free energy available to us. We teach you how to carry your body weight. So you feel light and agile not heavy and frumpy.
We lift logs and long branches on our own and as a team. We teach you how to squat rather than bend. How to power up from the balls of your feet. We teach you body how to improve the elasticity and the fast twitching muscles as we explode back up. How to balance and counter balance how to feel your body’s GCM.
How to work as a team, to co-ordinate and to take the lead or to follow. How to understand that you are as strong as your weakest link and as fast as the slowest. How to grip, lift, and carry using your fingers, your arms and shoulders. How every lift brings with it a different grip that improves the strength and dexterity of your fingers which in turn trains your muscles and your mind in a multilateral way.
No reps, no sets. Instead every lift and carry is unique and so is the ground your feel below your feet that brings issues of co-ordination, flexibility and adaptions into the equation. Nothing is the same, the varying terrain, the mud and the forest natural obstacles. The trunks, the branches each with it brings a new and different awareness to its irruglar shape, weight and GCM.
You can’t be blinkered, you have to stay alert and focused. It is about orienteering your body and your mind. Increasing your peripheral vision.
Then it is all about breathing and the stillness and taking in the forest life around you.
What a reward it is!
…to be continued in Part 2
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