Way back in May, one of my friends mentioned that he would be doing Tough Mudder this year. He giddily went on to describe what’s involved – a 20km mud run with obstacles designed by British Special Forces, meant to test your “all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” As I sat on my couch laughing at this insanity, he suddenly turned to me and exclaimed “Hey! You should do it too!”
I was almost too shocked to respond. “I can’t,” I stuttered, grasping for the first possible excuse. “I wear glasses. They’ll get smashed.”
“So?” was his response. “Get some contacts.”
Shit. I could TOTALLY get some contacts.
And that’s how I ended up doing Tough Mudder.
Ironically, that friend then ended up dropping out of the race. But at 8am on a sunny Spring morning, my team of four lost souls turned up to the racetrack on Phillip Island. I’d never even walked further than 10km at a time, and having polished off a couple of bottles of bubbly and an indecent amount of chocolate the night before, we probably weren’t in the best condition to be climbing and swimming and running through electroshock wires. None of us thought we’d be able to finish the course. But hell, we figured that at the very least we’d have a few laughs.
And that we most certainly did. Even the most terrifying obstacles were achievable with three other people cheering you on, hauling you up, pushing you over. We each had different strengths and different fears (swimming, heights, enclosed spaces), which meant I could encourage my teammates when they were struggling and gratefully receive their reassurance when I just wanted to curl up and die.
After five gruelling hours of trawling through mud and climbing over obstacles, we stumbled across the finish line – triumphant and filthy and absolutely bloody exhausted.
I was chatting with one of my friends the following week, and she asked how I’d felt during the race. The answer was something like “awesome! –> getting tired –> OH GOD KILL ME NOW –> ALMOST DONE JUST KEEP GOING!” And she asked how I’d kept going during the times when I wanted to die. I hadn’t really thought about it until that moment, but my instant response was: “Just some tricks I learnt from Bikram.”
“Oh,” she said. “Bending like a crazy gumby freak?”
Ahahaha. No. There is not a question in my mind that I could not have achieved this without my Bikram Yoga practice. It has nothing to do with fitness or flexibility (although I’m sure that helped!). Rather, it’s the mental resilience and knowledge of my own body that helped me cross the finish line.
Without two and a half years of arguing with myself, I wouldn’t know the difference between “I want to sit down” and “I need to sit down.”
Without two and a half years of pushing myself through postures that I “hate” (I used to inexplicably get HOT and SICK and TIRED whenever Full Locust loomed up ahead, only to have a miraculous recovery immediately after) I wouldn’t be able to recognise that my brain’s reaction when I don’t want to do whatever’s immediately ahead of me is to go into full-on “QUIT NOW” mode… and I wouldn’t have developed any number of mental tricks to do get through it anyway.
Without two and a half years of pushing myself to my limit, I wouldn’t know how to stop before pushing myself into injury.
Without two and a half years of yoga, I wouldn’t know how to breathe.