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8 Ways Obstacle Racing Can Change Your Life

8 Ways Obstacle Racing Can Change Your Life

Over the last 5 years, obstacle racing risen in the ranks of popularity and became a favoured past-time for many fitness enthusiasts. Many of these obstacle franchises establish their own chants, classifications, preparations, prizes, and community gatherings that leave many questioning the sanity of the participants and sparking the curiosity of others. After completing two races myself, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, and seeing the different types of people crossing the finish line, I believe that anyone can compete in an obstacle race with the proper training. The rewards of finishing such a race are forever memorable as they leak into everyday life, changing the way you see yourself and the obstacles in front of you.

Here are 8 reasons why you should sign up for a local race and start training right away.

1. Improves Your Health.

Obstacle Racing at Any Age

    The beauty of obstacle racing is that anyone, no matter the age or body shape, can register and participate. In fact, these races encourage couch-potatoes to sign up as it will provide them with the necessary training motivation, a ‘due date’ to finalize their transformation, and an outdoor stage to put their training to the test.

    However, one thing is certain – do not run the race if you have not prepared as it could do more damage to your body than any good. This means that if you are very sedentary, you must give yourself at least 6 months to train properly in order to decrease the risk of an injury and build endurance. Easing your way into running is crucial, hence the more time you give yourself, the better.

    If you are active and you see the inside walls of a gym two or three times a week, then 2-4 months is enough time to get your body accustomed to long-distance running. Remember, this is not simply a race, it is an obstacle race, meaning pull-ups, wall climbing, monkey bars, and crawling through mud will be expected of you so do not keep your training limited. Performing exercises like HIIT, burpees, and uphill running will train your body properly, decreasing the chances of injury during race day.

    Of course, before beginning any strenuous training, please consult your doctor first.

    2. Changes Your Lifestyle.

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    See You at the Finish Line

      With all this expected training, one thing will definitely begin to change – your outlook on life, exercise, and health in general. Training does not mean running 10 km and then gorging on a greasy, fat induced burger. It means eating lean meats, fish, vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and watching calories.

      As you slowly begin to make small changes in your lifestyle you will feel obligated to start living a healthier life, and heck, maybe your family will join in on the fun as well. Soon, going on daily runs will seem like a hobby and you will be on your way to a slimmer waist line and a healthier heart.

      This won’t stop after you have run the race, you will become addicted to obstacle racing – you will be constantly chasing the rush you have felt when you crossed the finish line. Reversing back to your old habits will be difficult, especially once you have seen what your body can do.

      3. Unmasks Your Friends.

      Create a team with your friends to support each other during the race

        You may have decided that you want to try something really new; you expect that your friends and family will be beside you on your difficult journey to get ready for the race. However, do not be surprised to find yourself sitting alone on the bleachers as no one else sees this as a ‘smart decision’. You will experience a mix of emotion that will blur your goals at first and will make you pity and question yourself, but then you will start to train even harder just to prove everyone wrong.

        Your friends, even closest relatives, may not understand obstacle racing; in fact, they will most likely fear it. They will believe it is dangerous to your health, that it is childish, pointless, and simply too challenging for you. They will put negative images into your minds. These are the haters and it is best to stay away from them. They will only make it that much harder for you to train and to succeed. Though I understand the desire of having someone by your side as you step into the unknown, and I am sure you will find that one person that will hold your hand, however be prepared to see who your friends really are and who will support you when you need it most.

        You may not like the outcome but it will be a reality check. Next time you are in a difficult time, you will know exactly who to call to give you words of encouragement and who to avoid.  You have to believe that you can do this, after all, no one is going to run the race for you, you are the only one in your way and you can do it. The purpose of obstacle racing is to compete with yourself and finish the race rather than place top three.

        The best way to find a support group is to recruit some friends and family to join you for the race. Create a team, name the team, and if you really want, show up in costume. This way, everyone keeps their training in check and you will always have a group of people pushing you out of bed to go for the morning run. Another way is to follow the social profiles of each race and interact with participants on these platforms. A little research online can help you find many racers that would love to share their training wisdom and tips with you.

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        4. Teaches You to Push Through Pain & Fear.

        Jumping through fire is a common obstacle for Spartan Race

          It will be difficult, there will be sweat, dirt, and maybe even some tears. You will want to quit right at the beginning when you will start to feel your legs cramping up. You will look at the uneven terrain and think “what the heck am I doing?” At these moments, when you feel like throwing in the towel, if you remember that you are doing this for yourself and that there is no way out except to finish the race, you will find energy within to keep going. A ‘second breathe’.

          At a point, all thinking ceases and you just keep running. The pain and cramps will slowly disappear and you will find yourself on autopilot. This shows that we can shut down the fear, voices, and pain in our minds at will. This control will leak into your everyday life. Everything else will seem easier in comparison and you will no longer feel fear when trying new things, but excitement.

          And remember, no one expects you to finish the race with a broken arm so if you really are experiencing pain during the race, there are ambulances and health aid stations on stand-by.

          5. Grows Your Confidence.

          With the proper training, anyone can finish the race.

            Though I am not saying that finishing an obstacle race will make you better than your friends and family; this is a wrong assumption. It will, however, make you better than you were yesterday.

            I remember when I finished Tough Mudder, my very first race, I fell to my knees and cried because all I heard from my family was that participating is a mistake and that I will injure myself. I was proud of myself, AM still proud that I was able to accomplish something that no one else thought that I was able to do, and even proved myself wrong. A very satisfying sense of accomplishment and confidence grew within me and carried on through the days.

            I fought myself and my fear, and I won. You will too. You will begin to walk with your head held higher; nothing will stop you from accomplishing your goals. The best prize that you get is the confidence to try new things that scare you and to keeping pushing when times are tough, knowing that there is something wonderful waiting for you after the agony.

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            6. Builds a Deeper Connection with Your Significant Other.

            Racing Brings Couples Together

              I was lucky enough to run the race with my significant other and I have no doubt in my mind that it made our relationship stronger. We had trained together, we motivated each other, and on judgement day, we were each other’s support system. We felt as if we went through battle together and we know exactly what the other is capable of.

              When you are running the race, you have no choice but to rely on the person next to you, and they the same. This builds a stronger trust in the other and you get to share an important experience in your life with someone you love.

              If your significant other does not wish to join you for the race but is by your side during the entire process, even cheering for you from the stands, it will change your relationship in a positive way. Even if the person you are running with is your best-friend, expect to feel a closure attachment and understanding than ever before. Plus you will have another crazy story to share with your friends and family.

              7. Builds Teamwork.

              Obstacle Racing Builds Teamwork

                What I loved seeing during the race was how random strangers would stop and help out each other. Everyone felt connected to each other because they understood exactly what the other was going through.

                The franchises inspire team work in their chants and obstacles, encouraging participants to give a helping hand to their fellow man. Some say that common courtesy and human compassion is slowly evaporating from our moral framework, though I beg to differ. You see it during these races where people are put together to face a barrier that they cannot overcome without the assistance of the other.

                It really feels wonderful to have a complete stranger shout words of encouragement at you while reaching out to help pull you over a barricade. You cannot help passing on these feelings to others not only during the race but in your everyday life. You truly feel the value of team work and see the results that it brings.

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                8. Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone.

                Obstacle Racing Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

                  Our days are full of routine and it is important that we escape the chains of conformity once in a while to experience life and to feel alive. Though some may consider a vacation to the Caribbean a perfect example of an escape, however isn’t it about time to try some new and even crazy?

                  Obstacle racing calls for mental and physical training and control, not everyone can handle the preparation. Climbing ropes, jumping into ice-cold containers, crawling around in the mud while being electrocuted – it will be almost like childhood all over again!

                  There are so many things to expect and to experience during the race that you will definitely feel awkward, scared, and thrilled throughout the whole journey. It will be a memory you will never forget and might even walk away with some battle wounds and new friends. Suffocate the whimpering voice inside your head that says “I cannot do it” or “I am not good enough” and sign up now!

                  Must-Try Obstacle Races

                  Tough Mudder Head Band

                    If you are burning with excitement after reading this blog, I suggest immediate registration for an obstacle race. We don’t want any second doubts to seep in, do we? Below are some of the most popular obstacle races that are held in North America, and in some other parts of the world. Crawling through barbed wire, getting electrocuted, being chased by zombies (yes, you read that correctly) are just some of the things to expect at some of these races.  As a head’s up, be prepared to sign a death waiver for some of the longer obstacle terrains.

                    Conclusion

                    There is nothing to fear and only everything to gain. It will be a tough journey but every finisher will tell you the same thing – it will be worth it. It will be an experience like no other and you will thank yourself for the hard work and for pushing through the pain and anxiety. Register today for a local race and put on those running shoes! It is time to kick your own butt!

                    Featured photo credit: Steven Shepard via flickr.com

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                    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

                    The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

                    1. Understand Yourself Better

                    Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

                    Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

                    2. Keep Track of Small Changes

                    I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

                    Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

                    3. Become Aware of What Matters

                    As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

                    You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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                    4. Boost Creativity

                    The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

                    When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

                    You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

                    5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

                    A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

                    Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

                    6. Process Life Experiences

                    When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

                    Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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                    7. Stress Relief

                    In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

                    Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

                    8. Provide Direction

                    Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

                    One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

                    9. Solve Problems

                    Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

                    Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

                    When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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                    10. Find Relief From Fighting

                    Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

                    Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

                    11. Find Meaning in Life

                    Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

                    12. Allow Yourself to Focus

                    Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

                    13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

                    When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

                    14. Let the Past Go

                    I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

                    15. Allow Freedom

                    Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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                    16. Enhance Your Career

                    Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

                    Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

                    17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

                    All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

                    18. Catalog Your Life for Others

                    No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

                    We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

                    Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

                    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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