Leap before you’re ready…kind of goes against everything that you were told as a kid right? My parents were very level headed and always made decisions based on reason, they told us we should make sure we’re ready and really think about decisions before we make them. I think that’s partly why my Mom doesn’t understand why on earth I love Obstacle course racing so much. Well that and the death waiver that we sign at every race ;).
The thing I hear the most from people that approach me with questions about running an OCR is “I don’t think I’m ready”. Truthfully, most of us aren’t ready. That’s part of what makes the sport of OCR so awesome! It’s unpredictable, you never know what will happen next on the race course, just like you don’t know what will happen next in life. If you wait until you’re absolutely 100% ready to do something than you’l never do it! Think about the first house you bought, when you moved in with your spouse, when you got married, when you had a baby – I bet you weren’t 100% ready for any of those things…but you did it anyway and you made it work. The same goes for OCR, you sign up, you put in the work and train and prepare and do tons of research and you still get to the start line feeling nervous and ready to pee your pants or throw up. BUT then the race starts and you cross the start line and all of a sudden you are in the zone and having fun and taking each obstacle as it’s thrown at you.
In life we are faced with obstacles, we can’t predict when they’ll happen or guarantee they won’t happen at once, remember the saying “bad things happen in three’s?”. You could get sick, lose your job and get dumped all in the same week. You may not be able to predict when obstacles will be put in your way but what you can do is figure out how to face them.
“We’ve been conditioned to think that we as a society should spend tremendous resources eliminating obstacles from our lives, rather than teaching people how to surmount them…One of the key tenets of the Spartan Race is that we fill our course with obstacles that deliberately seek to trip people up. Essentially, you’re practicing encountering the unexpected” – Joe DeSena from his book Spartan UP!
By facing obstacles on the race course and figuring out how to overcome them you learn how to do the same thing in your everyday life. Suddenly a traffic jam becomes an opportunity to listen to a podcast you never have time for or having to take the stairs because the elevator is broken becomes a way to hill train. One of the reasons I love OCR is the unpredictability, some races like Spartan don’t give you a map ahead of time. You can expect a few standard obstacles like monkey bars, a multi rig, a rope to climb, heavy carries, mud to cross and a spear throw. But you don’t get a race map until the morning you arrive at the race. And you don’t have a map on course so you have no idea what terrain or obstacle will be coming next. It’s one of the things that still gives me a rush after almost 5 years of obstacle course racing. And being pushed out of my comfort zone on the race course helps me do the same in my everyday life.
I still get nervous walking up to the start line at a race, I have butterflies in my stomach and usually feel like I have to pee or throw up. But the nerves are also filled with excitement about the race and I know now that once I cross that start line instinct will take over and carry me through to the finish line.
So don’t wait until you’re 100% ready because like anything in life you’ll never be completely ready. And really what’s the worse that could happen? Worst case scenario you don’t finish the race or get injured – and injuries can happen in everyday life just as much as on the race course. And if you don’t finish? So what? Did not finish wins over Did not start in my books.
Do you have a race that you’re eyeing but are afraid to sign up for? Comment and tell me about it.