We have all experienced that lightbulb moment when we suddenly realise we might have made a bad decision. I could probably argue that’s the case for a number of things in my life, but the one that is flashing in front of my eyes at this particular point in time is my decision to sign up to the Spartan Race.
My immediate instinct is that this is the fear talking. Hell yeah. But just because you are afraid of something, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or you shouldn’t be. For example, if you are ever being chased by a lion whilst a ginormous meteor is speeding from space in the general direction of your house, feel free to shit your pants. And run very, very fast.
Therefore my argument is that it is normal and healthy to feel afraid of the Spartan Race and to regret my decision to ever sign up for it in the first place. What’s the big deal, you might think? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, the worst that could happen is that I can’t finish it, as a result of being too crapulent, mainly due to my failure to train properly. Then everyone will know because I have been writing a blog about it and I will be publicly humiliated.
Shame is a powerful motivator, which is one of the reasons I started writing about it in the first place. If no-one knew I was doing this race, I could easily ‘accidentally’ break my ankle the week before and be unable to do it. Boohoo, what a pity. But as we all know from Freud, there are no such things as accidents, and if one did happen, you would be all sympathetic while secretly thinking, she should have avoided that roller disco if she had really wanted to be careful…
Hah! That is not my plan, however tempting. I have made my bed and now must lie in it. So is my fear justified? Let’s take a look.
It really was a crazy, stupid idea. Although I have toyed with the notion that I could do one of these obstacle races for a year or so, it was more of a fantasy than a reality. Best enjoyed from the comfort of the sofa, glass of wine in hand. Which is what I was doing when I signed up for the damned thing in the first place. I need to remember I am not an athlete, I am a slightly podgy 43 year old. Sure, I can lift heavy shit, but do I want to run with it? No. Can I? At the moment, no. Do I care? Only a little bit.
I keep saying that I am going to do this training and that training, yet I don’t. Every Monday I am back on it, then work and life gets in the way. I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of not doing enough, feeling a bit rubbish about it and yet not being scared enough to do more. I am, at best doing 2 or maybe three short sessions of exercise a week. I keep sleeping through my early morning kettlebell/stretching/planking slots before work. I miss the really tough gym workouts and I have not lifted weights for weeks, although I have been flinging a sandbag and a mace about. I am eating too much rubbish and feeling porky. I need to get lighter to tackle the trickiest obstacles in the trace but the scales are going in the wrong direction. The most annoying thing of all is that I know that I need to do something drastic about all this, but am too lethargic to do it. Fuckity fuck.
Perhaps this is another bad idea, but I have been torturing myself by looking online at the kind of obstacles typically featured in the race. Some of them hold no fears for me, such as crawling in the mud, or over big rope ladders, something I do regularly in the park with my son, pretending to be Spiderman and Spidermummy.
See? Easy peasy. Even a sandbag carry doesn’t phase me, as I can always walk. But all the ones involving rope climbs and climbing over eight foot walls with no rope (why would you do that, why?) scare the crap out of me. There are 60 second tip videos posted on Facebook regularly by the Spartan organisers and every time I watch them, I think ‘there is no way I can do that.’ When it comes to the walls, someone is going to have to either give me a foot up or push my arse over it. Is that allowed? I bloody well hope so. You never know what the obstacles will be until the race itself, but even if I can do about half of them, that still means there is the potential for about 10 or so penalties. And that = 300 burpees, in an eight mile race. Somehow I have got to get better.
There are still about 3 months to go. I am about to press the panic button, as there is still time to make this happen and make this work. I spoke to a friend the other day who trained for a marathon in two months (not from scratch obviously, but no regular long runs before then). This has given me hope that I can actually pull my finger out and do less than the potential 300 burpees. At the same time, I need to stop saying that I am going to do 30 burpees a day training, and actually DO THEM. Can somebody please make me?
Since starting to write this I have come to the conclusion that it is these last few months of training (or not) that shall be my reckoning, not the race itself. The race will be a few hours of hell; the training is what will keep me on the straight and narrow more permanently. I don’t want to feel that I have to exercise at Spartan queen level for ever, but I am currently operating below the level I need to feel fit and sane. And to fit into my jeans. If I can’t do it now, then I will never be able to do it. While I might be slightly crackers, there was a reason for doing this race: to prove to myself that I was capable of things that I think I am not.
Today, I have had a lunchtime workout, a pep talk, dance-spiration (yes, it’s a thing) and an instruction to do 30 burpees a day, even if I go out in the evening, no excuses. No delays, start today. Do not wait until Monday. And what I have also realised is that all this is not my fear talking. I am not genuinely afraid of a few tough obstacles, or getting covered in muck. It’s a loss of faith in myself. And it’s only temporary. If this sounds like self-indulgent nonsense to you, so be it. But I think there is something to be learned here for any of us when we feel scared. Find out if you really are afraid, or if it’s something else. Think about it, write it down. It genuinely helps.
If it is failure that you fear, then you are not really afraid at all, you just don’t believe in what you are doing.
Until next time,