On October 8, 2016, I ran my first Tough Mudder with my friend Cynthia ( a Legionnaire 3X Tough Mudder participant). Due to my fitness level, I hadn’t seriously exercised since I had my third child. I knew that there were going to be a lot of obstacles, especially the ones that require upper body strength, and that I would have to skip those. The distance also worried me. Ten miles is a half marathon and I am not trained for it. I went back to running two to four miles per week in the past few months but not regularly to the point that I can pretend to be trained.
So I’ve been there for the past two months –because it was getting close–thinking, anticipating about where I can fit my training into my busy schedule. The day of the race arrived and I hadn’t done much, probably because I know the most powerful way to get through this. It is what I teach and practice most daily: mindfulness, connecting with the space within yourself where your energy consciousness lies, your essence, and anchoring yourself in the present moment. Plus my unwavering faith that I would do fine.
When you are in that state, you just go with the flow and that is the key to highest performance. Your body has already learned the movement with training. The brain delivers the messages to your muscles, the mechanics behind the motion and the feeling of gravity to apply the right amount of strength. I also knew that the body follows the mind. Just an example: when I set a goal of running six times around the track, I notice my body gets tired around four to five rounds because I am close to the end and I am starting to battle internally, talking myself into pushing and going a little bit longer. The same happens when I set a goal of running ten rounds. Around eight times I get the same self talk.
For the Tough Mudder, I decided not to look how long the distance was–it varies from ten to twelve miles–and did not look at the obstacles. So when we registered and they handed us a map, I shoved it into my sport bag. I was not interested in knowing. I will be in the moment and go with the flow of what was coming. The race started and that is exactly what I did. Even in front of the obstacles, I did not think twice about how I was going to get over it. I just went, and grabbed the first hand coming my way, the first shoulder. I was getting this done!
To my amazement, I stayed in that state of mind for the duration of the event. What seemed like a two and a half hour race was actually four hours. In that state of mind, time took on another meaning. I ran about seven out of ten miles and did twelve out of twenty obstacles, which exceeded by far my own expectations due to my level of fitness. At no point did I feel exhaustion or that I had to stop. I had my mind set on pulling through, one moment at a time.
It’s when I finally passed the finish line, that my body felt heavy again, tired and cold . That cold rinse off outside didn’t help much. The next shower was the best shower I ever had and the two slices of pizza afterward: heavenly. Mindfulness is the secret to high performance and exceeding expectations.