You are free to think thoughts of worry or joy, and whatever you use will attract the same kind back to you. Worry attract worry. Joy attracts joy. – Rhonda Byrne
This weekend I’m going to do one of my favorite things: run a Tough Mudder. This one, outside of Charlotte, NC, will be my sixth, including three this year. Despite the challenges of the last several months, I’ve made it a priority to do things that fill me with joy, including running Tough Mudders and seeing old friends.
There’s something incredibly valuable in chasing joy. When you find it, that joy ricocheting through your heart multiples to other areas of your life. It puts you in a better energetic state and attracts better things to you. For all the hurdles I’ve confronted in recent months, experiencing old friends and being in the Tough Mudder community has been one of the best things for me. And that joy is slowly multiplying.
Perhaps you’re saying: wait, Eric, Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile mud run filled with 20 or so special-forces inspired obstacles. What does that have to do with community?
The thrill of doing a Tough Mudder isn’t merely the physical challenge, though that is splendid and rewarding. The true joy of doing it is being part of a community of great people.
Don’t believe me? Watch this from Tough Mudder Philly in May of this year (where me and my buddy Tim make an appearance in our red shirts during an emotional video):
One of my favorite moments of every Tough Mudder race is the pre-start pep talk, as each starting wave receives a delightfully rousing encouragement – along with some basic event instruction – before being unleashed on the course. Here’s an example:
Tough Mudder isn’t a race, it’s an ethos.
Don’t just challenge yourself, sometimes you need to do things that scare you. Because that’s how you grow. And while you’re growing, lend someone else a hand so you grow together.
Don’t just race the Tough Mudder course, be a teammate. To everyone. Except the first wave of competitive racers looking for their qualification for World’s Toughest Mudder, no one’s time is recorded. The event is about challenging yourself, finishing, and helping fellow Mudders, because at some point, everyone will need help with an obstacle.
At every Tough Mudder, I and my various teammates spend time helping fellow Mudders at many obstacles. Some of the regulars requiring a hand are Mount Everest 2.0, Pyramid Scheme, and Mud Mile 2.0 This is what Tough Mudder means. Not how fast you are, not how strong you are, but how you help your fellow Mudders challenge themselves and finish that beast.
And beast it is.
Forget your 5k or half marathon pace…or however you run. Tough Mudder typically means run for a half mile, or a mile, maybe even 2. Encounter an obstacle. Maybe wait in line at said obstacle. Pound through it. Repeat. Over, and over, and over.
Depending on the course, how crowded it is, and the pace you hold, you’ll likely be out there 3-4 hours once you factor in stations to rehydrate, refuel, and use a muddy as hell porta-potty.
Here’s the deal: as much fun is the course is, Tough Mudder is about challenging yourself to do something that’s scary. There is an obstacle that scares almost everyone. Pick your poison: Funky Monkey the Revolution, King of the Swingers, or Kong.
Can you take down that which you fear? I conquered Funky Monkey the Revolution and Stage 5 Clinger for the first time each outside of Philly this May. The feeling was glorious. And that’s what Mudders stare down in their own way each time they start the course.
To conquer a Tough Mudder for your first time? It’s phenomenal. My own in 2013 was one of the best days of my life.
One of the best days of your life? God damn straight it was.
Mine was the culmination of taking on a random invitation from a friend (Ryan, pictured at the top of the post) to challenge myself. That started a journey which included me getting back in shape, losing forty pounds (!), and eventually going vegan. My life was some tough shit when I started Tough Mudder training. By the time that Tough Mudder was done, my life was dramatically better.
Granted, life has not been without significant troubles since (see recent challenges), but I owe more to Tough Mudder playing a role in changing the long-term trajectory of my life than I can put in words.
Perhaps now you can see why Tough Mudder matters to me.
This Tough Mudder will be with the smallest team with which I’ve tackled a race. Just me and my good friend Tim.
What’s going to happen? Hell if I know. But, we’ll challenge ourselves. Help others. And savor every moment as we give that course in Charlotte our all.
I’m looking forward to the joy at the end of that course. Because no matter the physical challenge and pain involved, joy it will be.