This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in one of those obstacle course/run/get muddy events. The Spartan Race® was held at the Ski Brimacomb venue north of Oshawa. An area of wide expanse, rural land and being the gateway to “god's country,” it’s beautiful. Notice how I didn't’ mention the hills…. guess I am still recovering, lol.
Anyways, months ago & during the depths of the second crazy winter in a row Lee Tuan, Pharmacist & owner of the industry leading local drug store http://www.allabouthealthrx.ca/ let some motivation out of the bag saying “lets do Spartan!” I figured I had time to get in shape and at 43 I know I don’t get away with what I used to, or recover as fast, I choose to use this and “exercise as medicine” to my advantage. I had also been contemplating the words of Carl Jung for some time that stated:
“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then you are just doing research.”
Winter gave way to spring and amongst all my responsibilities (running a business, Father, caring for my Mother, stay on top of the laundry, dishes and clean the house etc. etc.) I ensured to find time for my own joy by training. As my endurance improved I felt a degree of relief that I was reducing my risk factors for cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders like diabetes and cognitive decline. I had already lost about 7+ pounds late fall/winter, so it was good.
As life has it, we don’t always take the most direct route to any goal and obstacles pop up. The training that I was doing wasn’t exactly specific (cue the foreshadowing music) to the event but I love riding my bike (running is a challenge:). As far as physical activity or exercise goes, if you enjoy what you are doing it is just so rewarding that we want to do it again and again.
During the course of my training I would often push things hard. Not patient enough to apply “law of the farm” thinking and develop fitness & health over the course of seasons or years, I knew if I was tired?, just add coffee (not like anyone doesn’t do that). Not enough quality food in the hours prior to exercise?, just get the sports drinks or protein bar in. Recovery not optimal? simply use willpower to complete a workout. Git ‘er done! Right? No pain, no gain! Right? So wrong. Stay tuned for future blogs on how high intensity exercise is like a powerful drug that isn’t without it’s risks and how an Exercise is Medicine® Professional can help you navigate this risk.
I figured the Spartan Sprint would be fun. After all it was only 5K, I had a good base of general endurance, met up with my teammates right away, registration was super easy and bag check was only a toonie (or 30 burpees…. yeah, I had the toonie ready). Good to go until I looked up the ski hill we were supposed to run up and down, and up again, PLUS obstacles, not to mention it was 35 degrees celsius at 10am already. Experience told me to find shade :) It was on, with or without me.
It’s taken me 30 years to emotionally develop the ability to pace or to start slow and gain speed over time. Considering experience has taught me I have modest abilities, a saying I came across somewhere that really speaks to me, and it goes a little something like this:
"You’re Not Behind; You’re Just on Your Own Path"
During races there can be these moments of reflection. Crisp moments of clarity about the past, the present or the future. During large portions of the race I was alone (ha, ha) and thought about having participated at many levels of athletic competition (Provincial/National/International), been Provincial Champion, won, lost, crashed, burned, blown many a disc and/or felt like I was my result (e.g. second is the first looser type of mentality)
Some of the most insightful reflections I had related to how I felt when I stayed on my own path regardless of what others were doing. And you know what? My best performances always came when I remained centred within myself, almost as if in a flow experience. At the Spartan Sprint I needed to constantly remind myself to stay within myself and treat obstacles as a need to switch gears to maintain my own rhythm. Too much time can be spent outside oneself trying to please others, or trying to be or do something that isn’t congruent or right for us. Don’t waste your time trying to anything but yourself.
Fortunately, I finished my first Spartan Race® in once piece and had a great time doing it. The days that have followed is a whole other situation. In future blogs I’ll speak to this thing we call delayed onset muscle soreness and how nerve sensitization and sympathetically (“fight or flight”) mediated mechanisms can drive the physical, psychological and social dimension of pain. Understanding the true origins of pain enable us (Massage Therapists, Pharmacists etc.) to find the right treatment at the right time so you can put suffering behind and carry on that path unique to you.
With that in mind prepare, register and try out any one of the many obstacle course races that seem to be popping up all round these days. It’s a great experience. Not only that, you’ll be happy to hear that between now and August 31st, 2015 I’ll be offering you a 60 minute Massage Therapy treatment for only $59.00 (+hst). Simply book online and bring in your proof of registration/completion of one of these events and you are good to go! Now off you go, there is adventure out there waiting to be discovered!