Why do you need to challenge yourself? Is it in your blood?

tough guy medalOn Sunday I completed ‘Tough Guy Original 2013’.

Having trained for the unknown and unknowable aspect to Tough Guy I was fully prepared for my challenge. Or at least I had hoped I was.

All the training paid off included the extreme cold weather training I had done. I was able to cope with everything that was thrown at me!

It was an endurance race never to be understated, having been confronted with mud, mud and mud. Up steep mud banks, down and up, and so on. Flooded trenches again and again. Electric shocks, fire and sheets of floating ice to swim and wade through in the frigid minus 10° waters. Then came the hail stones, sun and rain.

If I had to describe the biggest test, it was the frigid waters. The cold really got to you when you were in the water for long periods or when you negotiated slower obstacle course challenges that meant your body heat started to lower and the shakes and chatters started to kick in.

I felt strong and able on a physical level and always took the opportunity to push ahead. So pleased I had done so much mud training! It got me through it. I always felt like I was in control and was able to work with the course rather than fighting it. For me this was more of a mental, spiritual and emotional test. I had to dig deep.

Yet it was the most incredible, amazing and gratifying  experience. So how can one experience such extremes and more importantly why?

My mother-in-law couldn’t understand why anyone would want to put themselves through such extremes. “But why, your mad!” she kept saying.

All I could try to do was to explain to her was that it is fulfilling, and that I need to do things that challenge me and push my limits. It wasn’t as if it is just me going off adventuring on my own. I was among 4,000 other competitors, each with their own motive for doing such an extreme obstacle course challenge. Go onto our events listing and you will realise that there are 100’s of obstacle course challenges and other endurance events across the UK this year. That amounts to tens of thousands of participants who have set their challenges in place.

Are we all mad men and women?

Not not at all. When you are in that throbbing crowd on the start line, and then back in the changing stables you start to realise that theses aren’t all just hardcore endurance racers. You are also surrounded by regular and ordinary people, challenging themselves to these extremes. Who today are wearing their racing hats yet on Monday are back to being doctors, students, accountants, lawyers, city slickers and teachers amongst others.

Look, not everyone in life needs such challenges. But that said we do need our ‘own’ challenges in order to spark that current inside us and keep us going.

Endurance events and obstacle course challenges aren’t for everyone. But for some of us it is, and we are not all mad warriors. Some are just ordinary people who realise that there is something inside them that just presses the button and re-ignites the flame.

Why do you think people get bored from fitness training. It is monotonous and repetitive after a while. But set yourself a goal such as an endurance event and it gives all your hard work a purpose.

“Your not 25 years old any more!”

As my mother-in-law said.  “But ah, that’s it!” I went on to say ” My fitness levels are much higher than they were last year, and even  higher than it as when I was 35 years ago. And when I was 25 years old I had such major physical disabilities that I couldn’t have done it then either.

You see age isn’t  a limit.  Your mind is the biggest. I know for a fact that I have not peaked yet, and whilst I can keep the spark alight, then I can dig deep, and get to experience such fulfilment and joy mixed in with such demands and tests.

Probably its the bi-polar aspect of my personality combined with my obsessive nature to not just complete a task but to give it 101% every time.

Is it in your blood?

I reckon my flame must comes from my family heritage. My great-grandparents are of Eastern European origin. That makes me half Russian from my fathers side, and from my mother’s Polish and Austrian heritage. When you hear the stories about life in those days in the Eastern Bloc, and being of Jewish descendance, then every day life was a challenge for survival, let alone for personal achievement.

Defiance the filmAnd what about me being so drawn to work and spending my time in the forest. I remember going to see the film Defiance about the Bielski partisans who knew about forest life and used it to help thousands of Jews escape from the cities of Belarus and hide in forests for 2 years during WW11.  Maybe it is just an inherent part of me, and that too is in my blood. Their situation was a matter of life or death. Fortunately mine is just a calling.

I end this post on the true spirit of me and what’s in my blood…my family. Firstly my parents who give me the courage and the tenacity to fight on and overcome every challenge that life throws at me. In particular my father Howard, who passed away in 1999. He never gave up even to the bitter end. He took every challenge that life threw at him and got up every time. Although not necessarily an adventurer as such, he did have his challenges such as marathons and off road mountain biking expeditions in the Middle East.

My bloodline are my children. I only hope that Lucie, Tatiana and Ross will find the courage and that same tenacity to dig deep in the testing society that they live in today. Never to allow anyone to convince them that doing just enough is good enough. They too have the ability to push every limit and challenge that life brings to them.

Lastly, I have to thank my wife Joanne who allows me to do the things that fulfil me. Who lives up to her own challenges, let alone having to live with mine!

Your Challenge

May it seem small or large, never allow life to become complacent. Take your challenge and let it move you forward. I can assure you it makes you a far more complete person!

p.s. I just asked Joanne to proof the post and her comment was ‘Wow Tough Guy really did had an effect on you” Yep it did. And do you know what? It feels just right! I look forward to helping you achieve you challenge.

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