“You j ust get in the mud and go.” I hadn’ t thought twice. That’ s how I alway s tack le life: put one foot in front of the other, focus on the little goal right in front of y ou, and almost any thing is possible. As a result, I have learned to push through when others stop, even this coach who trained world-class athletes. How could he freez e up during the race? In my mind, y ou j ust commit to something and then get it done, no matter what. He had let self-doubt creep in—a maj or mistak e I see people mak ing all the time.
You won’ t get stuck in mud during a wrestling match, at least not during Oly mpic wrestling, but y ou might get stuck in a craz y hold or some other predicament. Wrestling is among the most fluid of sports. An Oly mpic match has a beginning and ending, but how it unfolds during those five minutes is any body ’ s guess. There’ s no telling how much energy y ou’ ll need to expend or what y ou’ ll encounter. Wrestling isn’ t linear lik e a marathon. Your opponent may be wholly unpredictable, continuously try ing to place y ou in unexpected holds from which y ou can’ t escape.
So Coach Thompson sent his wrestlers to me because he k new that I could help them prepare for the unexpected. I could teach these elite athletes that if they endured enough off the mat, they could crush any challenge on the mat. My goal wasn’ t to help them prepare to win; it was to help prepare them for the unk nown.
No phy sical element embodies the unk nown lik e mud. It stick s to us, slowing us down,try ing to pull us under. Since the beginning of humank ind, men and women have been forced to deal with this brown muck . Mud delay ed Napoleon at Waterloo, crippled the Naz i invasion of Russia, and turned the Ho Chi Minh Trail into an obstacle course for insurgents in Vietnam. That mixture of earth and water that gets cak ed on y our shoes has changed history . I’ m guessing it’ s slowed y ou down a few times as well.
In a Spartan Race we alway s confront competitors with mud puddles and swamps, things y ou only run through out of necessity . These obstacles help condition them for “the mud” of every day life, the stuff that drags us down, or at least tries to. May be y ou didn’ t get that promotion, but we teach y ou to persevere in y our j ob any way . May be y ou got dumped, but we still want y ou to seek a new partner with a positive attitude. When y ou’ re already fatigued and struggling, the addition of mud can mak e for a toxic mix, exacerbating the desire to surrender. So every course has at least one mud trap somewhere along the way . It wouldn’ t be a Spartan Race without one.