Toughmudder: a lesson in commitment, planning, teamwork and …just do it!

Toughmudder: a lesson in commitment, planning, teamwork and …just do it!

ArticlesPosted on 05th November 2013

How running, climbing and swimming through mud, ice and electricity can enhance your work and home life.

Toughmudder: a lesson in commitment, planning, teamwork and …just do it!

Earlier this year I decided I needed a bigger challenge than the half marathons I had trained for in the past. My knees weren’t too fond of the relentless pounding that road running was subjecting them to, so I was keen to find something that focused on a full body workout. That’s when I came across Toughmudder.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, this is a military styled assault course, consisting of 20-25 obstacles over a 10-12 mile distance. The terrain is usually rugged countryside and the obstacles are designed by Special Forces personnel. The course not only tests your physical ability and stamina, but also your mental strength. There is a lot of cold and muddy water to swim, crawl or drag yourself through; there are obstacles involving great heights to climb over or jump from; the Artic Enema subjects you to a cargo-container filled with ice; and to end it all you have to run through live wires with up to 10,000 vaults of electricity.

There are a few people out there who take on the Toughmudder challenge individually and they are truly super-human to accomplish it unaided, but for most of us mere mortals we need to rely on others to get over some of the obstacles (i.e. the 12’ high Berlin walls). So with this in mind, I called upon some friends to join as a team. To accomplish the course, it naturally takes a great deal of preparation to build up physical strength and stamina and so we all structured gym sessions to meet these needs. The fact that we were all working towards the same goal made it easy to support and encourage one another during the months prior to the event. A bit of healthy competition, of who had done what training each week, no doubt also encouraged us to push that bit harder and train that bit longer. Even before we got to the day, the camaraderie between us clearly began to strengthen as we eagerly (and/or nervously) waited in anticipation.

On the day we agreed to work as a team and stay as a team. We all knew that we would stick together and go at a competitive pace, but importantly still at a pace manageable by the slowest member of the group. From the start, the encouragement and motivation between us was great and we tackled the first few obstacles with ease. It was not just our own team spirit that impressed me, but everyone in the event was also encouraging and supportive. When we reached obstacles too difficult to accomplish alone those in front were offered our help to get over, and those behind helped us. In facing the mind-over-matter obstacles, involving ice and electricity, again we confronted these as a team, all tackling them together and not leaving anyone behind. The team spirit was electric, never mind the wires.

Once all was complete and we were somewhat battered and bruised, we were rewarded with the iconic orange headbands and a well-deserved pint at the finish. It was a great feeling and we all agreed to do it again next year immediately. As a team we had started as one and finished as one. We had raised some well deserved cash for Help for Heroes and had fun along the way. We were good friends before, but in a way by doing the event together that friendship now seemed stronger. The success of the event made me realise how many great lessons can be transferred to our work and personal lives:

Planning – without the time spent planning before the event, we would not have been ready to take the challenge head on and be as successful as we were. By agreeing our approach we all succeeded together, as a team…and injury free.

Commitment – Both the training before and taking part on the day required commitment from all concerned. This was eased by us working as a team and encouraging one another when that commitment could potentially waiver.

Team work – Without the support of the team, or other supportive participants, accomplishing the course may not have been possible for everyone. By working as a unit, no obstacle was too big or challenging. By succeeding together, the team became stronger.

Just do it – The idea of doing a challenge like this seemed like madness to many, I even questioned why I was doing it on occasion. Yet it is an achievement I am proud of and actually enjoyed it from start to finish. By not having a ‘just do it’ attitude we may not have plunged in to and swam through 20 feet of ice, nor ran through 10,00 volts. By doing it we know it was all possible and can accomplish similar challenges in the future.

So my questions to you are:

  • What do you have coming up that could benefit from further planning to ensure it’s even more of a success?
  • What are you working on now that would benefit from that extra bit of commitment, and who can you encourage to keep committed on their own challenges?
  • How can you help your team, or friends and family, to realise and achieve an objective; what extra support can you offer someone today?
  • What are you afraid of? Just do it!

By James, Director at Cena

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