8 Hard OCR Lessons Learned in 2015

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8 Hard OCR Lessons Learned from 2015

1) Take Injury and Recovery Seriously

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If fitness is a journey, training schedule is like pressing the gas. Like driving, sometimes we get carried away; we get caught in the moment or the scenery and forget the speed limits along the way. Injury then, becomes a malfunction in the system due to overuse or improper handling.

Both of my major injuries this year (IT Band and broken toe) stemmed from hubris and negligence. Injury is our body’s way of telling us we’ve gone too far and we require perspective and repair. Ignoring the signs along the journey will only lead to greater pains later. Heed the signs, and never take your health for granted

2) Remember Why You Began

I believe I can--Whoa this is higher than I thought!

I believe I can–Whoa this is higher than I thought!

I remember my first obstacle course. It was True Mudd in Tabor City, NC in July of 2014. A friend took me and another fellow along to this place he found in the swamp and…I get chills with every recollection. I was in the midst of using the P90X3 program and wanted to test my results.

The exhilaration and pain of the course melded into some glorious love-child, the likes of which swelled within and ignited a passion that still burns today with every race. I had found the why to my fitness goals. I didn’t want to look great for the beach or to impress others. I trained for the joy of performance.

Remember the moment you fell in love with OCR. Never forget.

3) Your Reign is Not Secure

As the fastest growing sport in the world, and with so many folks transitioning from other events, no one’s reign on the podium is secure. Every athlete is a sleeper cell, waiting to usurp the kings and queens. OCR is a veritable Game of Thrones.

And that makes us better.

To be the fittest, most well-rounded athletes around, we must constantly push ourselves to survive and hold our place as long as possible. This leads to innovation and adaptation, key ingredients to survival. It also means that we can never take victory for granted, and there are no such things as comfort zones.

4) We are Nothing Without the Tribe

Because OCR provides family photos you actually want to hang.

Because OCR provides family photos you actually want to hang.

Being an athlete can often lead to tunnel vision. We forget where we come from and who stood beside us along the way. I learned the value of the OCR community and of running with friends and family during the Spartan Super in Asheville, NC when instead of racing for myself, I ran with my wife, who was new to fitness.

The experience humbled me and forced a new perspective as I witnessed incredible acts of camaraderie, sacrifice, and teamwork. It is the tribe which bears the collective history and wisdom of the sport. Lessons learned, trials endured, and legends sired.

5) Know Thyself, Train Thyself

The best way to throw your goals off course is comparing yourself with another athlete. A wise athlete focuses on their own history and experience, their weaknesses and strengths. OCR attracts folks from many backgrounds, and you will require a wide field of skills in order to perform well. Take stock of your limitations and strengths and train according to your current needs.

6) Safety Is Not First

To hell and back for a t-shirt and a medal? Sign me up!

To hell and back for a t-shirt and a medal? Sign me up!

John Augustus Shedd wrote that, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.”

There’s a lot of talk about safety in OCR, but I’m going to be the guy who calls it by its true name: an oxymoron.

There is nothing safe about OCR. Every inch is a risk to your health and sanity. I’ve destroyed myself racing, often completely disoriented by the end. Bloody faces, people limping, others sobbing with their faces cradled in their hands because the log is just too damn heavy and you cannot go one, more, step.

Truth is, if safety was really a concern, you would have stayed home and jogged at the track or had a picnic with your boring friends. But no, you understand that your body–that your life–is a ship designed for danger, adventure, and the apotheosis every athlete experiences at the end, and that often means earning scars along the way.

7) Failure is an Option. Surrender is Not

Man Alone

For me, 2015 represents the relentless ebb and flow of triumph and failure, but never surrender. I’ve let pride lead to injury and loss of gains, while experiencing the miracle of unimaginable races finishes. There are times I get down on myself, especially during injury when my weakness for food rages inside. Guilt festers, I stumble, I fail.

But to surrender, to forget what you’ve fought for, is never acceptable.

Call upon your tribe: friends, family, fellow athletes. The ones who will lift you up and light a fire under your ass. Failure only points to our limits–the horizons of our effort and experience. But every horizon can be traversed. Do not submit to the inertia of self doubt. Rise again, with all you’ve got.

8) Fitness is for the Patient and the Ruthless

Finally, we must be patient with ourselves. Sometimes our goals and dreams can run amok and lead to injuries or disappointment. Understand that fitness is a lifestyle, not an event. One must be ruthless with their bad habits and negative thinking, and also with being honest with themselves.

Begin small. In time, you will become the avalanche.

What lessons did the 2015 race season offer you?

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