Work Hard. Play Dirty.

Last Saturday, I ran my first Tough Mudder.  And let me tell you, the name is true.  

It was TOUGH. And it was MUDDY. 

Coming back from a crazy glute injury that left me unable to walk for 4 months and heading into a race after only six months back on a strength training and weight bearing schedule felt ambitious.  But sometimes when the opportunity presents itself, YOU HAVE TO SAY YES.

I was part of an incredible team.  We had only just met, but something happens when you're put in a situation like that.  You forget about all the normal ways of socializing.  You're muddy and sweaty and probably have touched each other's butts more times than you can count hoisting people over walls and mud hills. 

Running a Tough Mudder had been on my bucketlist of races for a few years now because everyone I know who has completed them tells harrowing stories of strength, trust, and community.  It's more than a race.  It's a lesson in the resilience of the human spirit. 

Read below for my three big takeaways from this incredible weekend of dirt, sweat, and fun with TEAM MERRELL

They come in all different shapes and sizes.  It's the moment you decide to do something way out of your wheelhouse.  It's deciding to take on every obstacle even if you think you might fail (aka fall into the pond of muddy water).  It's stepping off the platform, holding on to monkey bars for dear life, and deciding that the only way out is through. It's falling down but getting back up and trying again. Most importantly, it's saying yes over and over and over again.  In the face of every challenge, say yes.  Courage doesn't mean you experience zero fear.  Courage means acknowledging that fear exists, that you are afraid, but choosing to move in the direction of the challenge instead of running away. There is an obstacle called The Funky Monkey Revolution.  It is straight up some American Ninja Warrior sh*t.  I thought for sure I wouldn't make it passed the inclined monkey bar climb and would plummet into the water below.  But I went for it.  Even though I knew what could happen, I decided that desspite of my fear of falling, I would try anyway. Courage like anything else is something that you learn.  One tiny courage moment at a time, you build resilience and become a badass.

Whether you are coming back from a crazy injury, taking a big step into the next chapter of your life, or running a muddy obstacle race, it's always easier with a tribe.  This is probably why our ancestors lived in close-knit clans that supported and cared for each other.  Going it alone, you'll have to muscle and fight and push way harder than if you lean into the support of people you trust.  There's an obstacle called The Pryamid Scheme where we literally made a human ladder and climbed up each other to reach the summit.  Without working together, we would have never made it up the wall. Sometimes you will be lifting people up. Other times, they will lift you.  Adversity gives us an opportunity forge meaningful connection.  We learn how to SHOW UP fully and presently, not just when we are climbing over the wall, but when our fellow tribe members are as well.  Their success becomes our success.  Imagine how amazing our normals lives would be if we took this concept from the fitness world and applied it to our normal lives.  It's not about competing with one another.  We all get to cross the finish line.  Let's do it together. 

It's no secret that I march to the beat of my own drum.  I'm unapologetically loud and happy. Having witnessed so many humans get through insane obstacles, it's never been clearer to me that we all have our own path.  We can try to follow the example of the people before, perhaps gleaning a few kernels of wisdom from their journey, but ultimately, we have to carve our own path.  The way that we think and move is so different from the person before or after us. So, why would the way we face obstacles be the same? Things that are effortless for me are hard for others and visa versa.  I'm not interested in being a carbon copy of someone else.  I interested in exploring and discovery what works for me.   I used my flexablity to get my legs over things, other people used their strength to pull themselves over the same obstalce.  The way you get there will be different, but we will all get htere in the end.

Whether you plan on running an obstacle race or not, what we learn from overing obstacles with a team translates to your muggle life.  Work together, be brave, inspire each other, and never stop exploring.  Taking that baby step outside your comfort zone can open you to a world of awesome surprises.