“Run for fun? What the hell kind of fun is that?”
Legendary character actor and voice artist Pat Buttram asked this not so profound question to Christopher Lloyd in Back To The Future Part III way back in 1990, and for the past 25 years, Mr. Buttram and I were, and for the most part still are, of the same mindset. Why would any sane person run anywhere when there is any number of methods by which you can get from Point A to Point B much faster and with much greater ease? I’ve never been an athlete and really still don’t consider myself one despite running three to five miles nearly every day. I have no interest in participating in your basic road race, anything with the word ‘marathon’ in the event title, or any similar distance competition. This is not for me:
Over the past three years, I’ve lost over 65 pounds and these daily runs began as a simple, free way for me to keep my decreased weight in check and allow me to eat and drink a little more of what I wanted from time to time. But, the fact of the matter is that I don’t like running. It’s not fun, and if you do it too much or too often, it flat-out hurts. To pile on as much as possible, I’ll point out that as a kid, I distinctly remember physical education courses and youth athletics in which the penalty for screwing up was, you guessed it, running. Do you know why? Running is not fun. How are people expected to have fun just running when not too long ago the same activity was forced upon them as a punishment?
Enter obstacle racing. This is definitely for me:
(Photo courtesy of Gameface Media)
A friend of mine posted a link on his Facebook feed this past Spring inquiring as to whether any of his friends was interested in taking part in something called the “Savage Race” with him. At the time, I didn’t know one obstacle race/mud run from another, but “Savage Race” just sounded cool. After doing some poking around online to learn more about the race, which I previously didn’t know existed, and about the sport in general, I decided to give it a shot. I decided to do it because army crawling through the mud is fun. Jumping over fire is fun. Hanging, jumping, and even falling from up on high is extremely fun. Obstacle courses offer numerous challenges and consistent excitement. They foster teamwork between family, friends, and complete strangers. They have all the things we did or wished our parents had let us do when we were kids. There’s an element of danger that ignites the body in an obstacle race. I know I run harder when I’m headed toward a giant slide and a free beer. The way I see it, each obstacle I encounter in a race is a reward for putting up with the discomfort from running to get to it. Then, completing that obstacle brings an entirely new high brought on by the accomplishment.
So, while my daily running does help keep my weight from crawling upward, I feel my motivation shifting toward ensuring I don’t embarrass myself during the next obstacle race. (I completed that first Savage Race, but it took forever and wasn’t pretty.) As I write this, I’ve just finished my morning run and I’m reminded of how true that Pat Buttram line still is for me. I didn’t have much fun running this morning, and I am quite noticeably sore from it. But, looking back at my time, distance, and effort, I can see all of them have improved and that is because my next obstacle race is only days away. When I cross the finish line next weekend, my body will most likely hurt, but I already know I’ll have had a hell of a good time getting there.
I may even skip my run that morning.
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