For all of our “constant” readers out there, let me be the first to apologize for our lack of attention to the blog over the past few months. For me – I think it’s been more about the winter blues than anything else. I honestly didn’t think I would be in such a lingering funk, and for so long, after the conclusion of the 2013 World’s Toughest Mudder. Now that my race schedule is finally complete for 2014 with the announcement of the Washington DC Spartan Sprint and the legs have begun pounding through the miles again, I must say I’ve been reinvigorated with a new sense of excitement on what awaits me for 2014. Let’s go racin’!!!!
One of the recurring themes I’ve focused on in my posts is the idea that we can all be out there training for some type of Tough Mudder. Your mudder, of course, may not involve waist deep mud, 10,000 volts of electricity or an industrial-sized trash can full of ice and water, but your investment, whether that be mental or physical, is still there to push you out of bed each morning to reach your goal. We can all put in the work to achieve some goal that has, up until now, seemed impossible. That one thing that eventually makes you sit up in the morning and say, “I’m starting today.”
One of the nice things about the age we live in today is that you can almost definitely Google this “Mudder” epiphany you just had, and find at least a handful of other mudders out there who are working on a very similar goal. For me – I just happened to know two like-minded individuals that agreed to go on this absurd adventure with me. What I always find really exciting with the three of us though is that no matter how similar our end goals are, our methods for getting there are very, very different. I like different. Being different in your approach to a task can do so much to help spark new ideas in others as you collectively move forward.
My goal for this year is to not simply run in the World's Toughest Mudder, but to be prepared to compete at a more, how should I say, elite level. Please don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely no delusions of grandeur. My body is always finding new and creative ways of reminding me that I am not 18 any longer (How cool would it have been to find Obstacle Course Racing at 18!!) I turned 40 during last year’s WTM, and this year I will be completing in an entirely new age bracket. While I’m excited to be officially a senior in some circles, my true excitement stems from two competing desires. One is that I have become absolutely obsessed with the Hangin’ Tough obstacle. Hangin' Tough is the one obstacle on the course I have never completed, and one that haunts me every time I see it on a course map. Never completed - never really gotten to the third set of rings. Here is both a lesson in how to complete Hangin' Tough and how to fail miserably.
I think I've now finally found an exercise program that I think is going to help me get there. That is, of course, if my left shoulder doesn't completely disintegrate along the way. I have come to the realization being wiser at 40 that it may be time to get that MRI and see what is going on in there. Problem is I know it isn't anything good!!!
I have had a lot of success with P90X, heck I completely credit Tony that with helping me get across the monkey bars for the first and second time in our double Mudder last year in Carolina. If you haven’t seen that amazing bean footage, let me queue it up for you.
Now that is how you get it done. Unfortunately I noticed that I just seemed to plateau in some facets of my strength training. Again – this plateau is in no way a reflection of P90X or P90X2. It is much more a need I have to mix things up a little to keep them fresh and to keep me motivated to work out everyday.
Over the summer I also had the opportunity to participate in some free CrossFit activities after work in one of our local schools here in Newport News. This served as my introduction to CrossFit and I was sure this was the trigger that I needed to drastically improve my strength and endurance to finally conquer Hangin’ Tough. There were just two things that stood in my way – finding the time to break away to the gym each day for 2 hours or so (this counts travel, warm-ups, etc, etc) and the fact that I just don’t think I need to pay $100 plus a month for any gym membership. (To all my CrossFit friends out there – this is nothing personal. I know what you’re thinking, and I ain’t judging at all. But there is only so many hours in the day and we all have to prioritize how we want to spend that time and the dwindling surplus of cash at the end of the month.) If I could shake the gardening bug, I'm sure I would be out there with you.
This did lead me to finding some pretty cool Web sites out there that allow users to generate lots of different WODs that I can do at my own time. Yes – many of these programs do seem to confuse me with Rich Froning, but if I learned nothing else in my time with CrossFit modify, modify, modify and you can get it done. While these activities were great, they still didn't seem to provide me with the focus I needed - especially in my desire to increase the number of pull-ups that I can complete.
So in my ever vigilant Googling to find a workout program for me and my Hangin' Tough obsession, I finally found a gymnastics training program for those of us who are never going to be gymnasts. The focus is primarily on pushing and pulling your body weight without the need to get to the gym everyday or the need to buy an entire home gym. All you need is a couple of gymnastic rings and some free space.
For the past couple of weeks I have been working on my homemade gymnastics
rings by doing lots of pushups (150 to be exact), reverse rows (about 150), and lots of different holds here and there. And for the first time in a long time, I really feel like I’m getting stronger again. Better yet – I can see it in the mirror. My arms now ache in muscle groups that I didn’t know I had plus when I work on the rings the muscle stabilization I get by having one arm work in isolation from the other is incredible. It seems that I've regained that same sense of excitement I had from doing P90X religiously and getting across Funky Monkey for the first time. Or for the 4th time in a row....
Now that I bout the gymnastics program, I am going to wait a few weeks before I give it a glowing recommendation. I know what a recommendation from me can mean for any particular company and I like to give that feedback sparingly – just to prevent the throngs from descending on them and bringing their Web site down all together.
And now my challenge - to each of my Mudda Bruddas. I challenge each of you to highlight how you are preparing for our goal this year of competing, notice I did not say running, in the 2014 WTM. This will help show everyone how different you can be individually yet still have that support group to push you toward achieving your common goals.