Saturday, June 23, 2012

Healthy Fatherlyhood: Tough Mudder Edition

Some of my thoughts during a running incident last week:

Man, my calf is tight, a little achy. It'll be fine.
My average per mile time is creeping up, better speed up a little bi---POW!
Who shot me in the calf?!

Since my children came along, and as I advance toward advancing in age, maintaining my health has been at the forefront, and sometimes slipping back toward the middle, of my mind. After all, I was 35 and 39 when my daughters were born and, if I want to be around for the milestones in their life, and have the energy to keep up with them now, I need to take care of myself physically.

Over the past few years, I've tried to run, even ran some 5k races, workout and eat like a normal human being should. Nothing too drastic or difficult. Recently, however, I heard of a Tough Mudder race/challenge coming to my state in a few months.

The Accidental Mudder

Tough Mudder competitions are 10 to 12 miles in length and contain 25 or so difficult obstacles along the way. The TM races and obstacles were designed by British Special Forces. Here's a short Tough Mudder clip:

They're set up to be ideal for teams, because it would be tough to get through the obstacles without assistance. I thought it looked very cool and before contemplating the significant distance and overall physical challenge, I found myself posting about the overwhelming coolness on Facebook.

Ha! Turns out I had a friend that was putting together a team and needed a few good men. So, I agreed. I went from leisurely maintenance of my physical condition to telling myself, "Boy, you gotta step it up a few notches." I did so.

For the past eight weeks, I've been doing a workout program that kicks my butt on a daily basis and I've been running in earnest at least three days per week. I hated it in the beginning, but as the days passed I began to look forward to the workouts and runs.

Here's an aside - None of the guys on my team have any experience with this type of competition. Most are, however, half-marathoners and triathletes. In other words, the antithesis of me. Just so you know.

Until last week, I was seeing and feeling the progress. I could do more chinups (I started with two, max), my average pace was improving on runs, and my legs were noticeably stronger. I was feeling good about my progress, albeit far from where it needs to be.

Gunshot to the Calf

Not a real gunshot, but it felt like what I imagine a gunshot would be. When I asked my body for more, it answered with an emphatic "No." When I tried to speed up during a run, I strained my calf. I've been out of action now for over a week. Such things didn't happen in years past; when I asked, my body said, "Sure, whatever." One thing I had left out of my training, as I have been for my entire life, was stretching. Funny how the body likes to reveal things you should've seen.

What I've learned, aside from my need for more flexibility, is that fitness can become a habit. All it took was the realization that I absolutely had to train more heavily to keep up with my teammates in the Tough Mudder. I have kept up my training regemin long enough to see results, which fueled my desire to keep going.

After this injury heals, I'm back on the trail.

Possibly the best thing about my training and the race is that my daughters have taken part in my workouts. Sure, their workout quickly turns into dancing and improvised exercises, but they like seeing daddy get fit and I enjoy watching them act silly. That alone is enough to make daddy get and stay healthy.

Being in shape won't ensure I'm around to see my grandchildren, but it's one of the few things I can do to help.

Am I an idiot for running a Tough Mudder race? Have you ever done one? I'd like to hear you're responses on being healthy, and whether I'm an idiot. Leave a comment.

One more thing. A portion of everything earned by Tough Mudder races goes to The Wounded Warrior Project. To date, they've given over $3 million.

1 comment:

  1. A Tough Mudder means YOU are doing great, YOUNG MAN! Now, when you're in your fifties, like me, let's see where you're at! I did 115,000 vertical feet heli-skiing in April!

    But, a Mudder is still much harder! WAY TO GO!