Today I went to the gym for three hours.
About three months ago a bunch of (well, call it four plus me plus some outside) people from work decided we should Do Tough Mudder. To which my response was “I’ve just posted how I’m not signing up for any large events, so really? You’re asking? Really? Okay.” And so I signed on. I proudly told this to my trainer, with whom I meet pretty much weekly, and tasked him with getting me ready.
For three months I met faithfully with David (trainer), each Wednesday cursing things like burpees and pull-ups and push-ups and other things whose Official Names I do not know but that doesn’t prevent me from dearly disliking. And about a month before Tough Mudder, we lost a team member. A week later, we lost a second. A week after that, a third. And then there were four.
Four is not a big team, and four may-or-may-not have been successful in getting us over hills and walls and so forth. Add that to the fact that I was now the only female on the team, and certainly the slowest runner (hello, 10 minute mile!), I was uncomfortable. So I decided to see if I could pad the team. I checked in with my gym, and found someone willing.
Except he was signed up for the Saturday, and I couldn’t do the Saturday (hey, I was snack mom for the soccer game! Priorities!). OK, fine, I put an ad in Craigslist.
Now, I like reading Craigslist for entertainment, and have used it to sell many things, but not really to do something social. I got one response. It detailed the length of some male person’s phallus and an invitation to ride it. I did not respond.
On the Wednesday before my original Tough Mudder–which I have now bumped off to next year — I devised a plan with David. I would chart the obstacles and the runs, and create gym-equivalents. Running is fine (treadmill), but how many pull-ups do you figure equates getting over an 8′ high wall (somewhat assisted — say a push up or a pull up from a team member)? David figured 3 sets of 10. How do you replace swimming? David figured you’d use the same muscles as burpees and knee-bend deadlifts with weights, so 2 sets of 10 of those. To simulate running in mud he added ankle weights. The only thing David did not compensate for was electric shocks (which I was to skip anyway) and an ice bath. On the flip side, instead of the cushy wait times in front of obstacles that my more mud-laden brethren got, I got one (1) three-minute break.
Two hours and 40 minutes later, I had run just over 11 miles (well, I had run about 9 and speed-walked another 2 because the knee was hurting) and done crazy crawling, push-up, pull-up, weight-lift, balancing obstacles throughout the gym. I left the gym incredibly icky (not muddy) and wondering if an ice bath would have helped.
There’s a few things I can take away from this experience, and yes, a couple more goals:
1. No, you don’t have to train running-wise as though you’re training for a half-marathon. But I probably should have run something over 3 miles recently.
2. If you do it alone, or in the gym, or both, you don’t get the event-based adrenaline rush. You trade that for the “comfort” of controlling your environment.
3. I could have done it by myself in the mud. And I probably should have.
4. I’m training as though I WILL be doing it solo next year, because I don’t want to have to do it in the gym again.
Not that I don’t love David. I loooove David (in a totally platonic, he’s like an uncle kinda way). He is awesome and patient and inventive and he doesn’t let me slide. But next time I want him waiting at the end of the route, standing in the mud, with a beer. And I want that extra load of muddy, muddy laundry.