Mental vs. Physical Strength?

Tough mudder Missouri -2016

Participating in the Tough Mudder was suggested after our Bootcamp Fitness Group completed the Battlegrounds Mud Run this past May.


May 2015- Battlegrounds Team- Big Mat Attack


In a moment of wanting another challenge, I agreed to do this.  I was most skeptical about completing the 10.5 miles, but we had five months to train before the event, so decided to do it.  Over the past five months, the anticipated team dwindled down to two of us, remaining committed to the Tough Mudder:  Beth and me.  But unfortunately the two of us didn’t fit in all the training we intended to do, so we were a little concerned about being able to finish.  There was late talk of canceling, but being so close to the date, the personal challenge and commitment were too strong and over-ruled.  I was thinking: “never give up”- now this is more about having the desire to complete this for many reasons.


Leading up to the date, Beth and I both ended up injuring ourselves. First, Beth injured her shoulder then I ended up with Tennis Elbow overusing it during my recent move and home renovations.  So this was turning into an endurance experiment:  Can the mind push through the physical setbacks and enable us to finish?   In my experience, my mind usually quits before my body does, as soon as it starts getting too tough, I don’t push through, I stop.  This is where “team motivation” comes in and is so important: My friend, Beth, was thinking that she might have to cancel if her shoulder didn’t improve, which I completely understood, because there is a lot of upper body strength required on the obstacles.  Of course I was disappointed when she said that, but understood.  But in this very same conversation, she added, “I’ll still go and run to support you!”  How amazing is that?!   A great example of being a motivating friend!  No one had to convince me to continue!  I was thinking there are people with greater physical challenges than I currently have who do way more amazing things, I need to push through it and just do it! I’ll use my other arm, and won’t let this be a limitation!  So we agreed, we’d give it our best shot and make it fun!


We had a 6 am departure with a 3-hour drive ahead and the forecast was sunny and 71 with a low of 46 degrees.  You really learn about a person during a long drive!  I learned that Beth had completed a video as a potential participant for the Survivor show, so I’m thinking heck yeah, I’ve got the right team member here!

Traveling, I learned that Beth hasn’t kicked that Mountain Dew Habit! haha

The weather was absolutely gorgeous; we were so lucky!

Pre-race:  Head Down Eyes Up- HDEU

The adrenaline started in the warm up zone with a very energetic DJ who motivated and entertained us doing the running man and had a few dance offs with some of the participants. We were all laughing.    At this event you will meet all kinds of people, the serious, the scared first timers, and those who plan to have the most fun: men dressed as women, spiderman, teenage mutant ninja turtles and on, hilarious.  Our wave time had some really fun people which made the day even better.  This event really emphasizes:  the race is not about time, it’s about teamwork.  And it certainly was!  Each person was challenged to give back in some way along the course, and we did.  We were limited in helping due to our upper body injuries, but we did wall squats and let people climb up us to get to the higher walls. They helped pull us up many mud walls!  The team attitude is amazing and a moving experience.  If you enjoy athletic challenges, this is a must do event!


Unfortunately, we didn’t have cameras with us for the obstacles because those would be fun to see, they did have photographers stationed so I’m hoping to get some later.  Here is a link to the obstacles. I think pictures and videos do more justice than any description I can give!

The last 4 obstacles occurred in the last 2 miles and were very noteworthy.  I didn’t count, but we had several mud hills with pits of water. Teamwork happened when someone would give your foot a boost at the bottom and another would grab your arm at the top and drag you up the muddy wall, then it was your turn to pull someone else up or give a boost.  We gave boosts, then helped hold the stronger guys’ legs as they pulled people up the wall.  There was once where I nearly slid face first back down into the water while holding someone’s leg, we were lifting a big guy but luckily he got a grip before the two of us plunged into the muddy water head first.  The most challenging were the last two:  The Arctic Enema and the Electric Shock.  By this time, I was cold and weak and the Arctic Enema challenge is to slide into an ice filled container of mud water then over two fences to get out with water up to your chin.  I’ve never felt so frozen! The last obstacle before getting the headband was the Electric Shock, that is intense!  The challenge is to run through water and over straw bales with electrical wires hanging from above. We were told as first timers to cover our heads with our arms, which we did.  I didn’t run, I tried to dodge the wires and crawl low, which might have been the wrong choice as I was popped four times.  The one that hurt the most was on the back of the head, which blew me forward and I screamed!  But I made it through to earn the orange head band and t-shirt!


For me, just after getting shocked, mud from head to toe and freezing cold, with my teeth chattering uncontrollably, all I wanted was to get warm!  The event has rinse off areas consisting of hoses with spray nozzles.  I did the best I could to get the mud off, but couldn’t stop shivering so I just quit trying and went to get my clothes, my muscles were cramping so badly.  Finally, warm!  After changing we headed out for that beer, some photos, the DJ music and watching others go through the electric shock zone.  We had a blast and enjoyed the crazy fun people we met throughout the day.


some photos,


the DJ music and watching others go through the electric shock zone.  We had a blast and enjoyed the crazy fun people we met throughout the day.

These were the crazy guys from our wave time, they called themselves “The Attention Whores”

So getting back to the question of physical vs mental, probably mental motivation as it relates to teamwork is the most important factor to finish this course.  The people you meet just make it awesome, the best team environment I’ve been in, helping one another. It was an incredible experience and one that I will remember forever!  Just do it someday, you won’t regret it!

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