My wife and I recently ran our first Tough Mudder Obstacle Course Races. We didn’t really know what to expect other than getting filthy dirty and having to complete some rather scary obstacles. We made it a point to arrive early to the venue so we could take in the entire atmosphere and really sear the memory into our minds, and we took note of quite a few unexpected revelations along the course.

We were standing in the starting chute when the MC kindly asked everyone to turn and face the flag for the National Anthem. Why? Because, ‘Merica dammit! Immediately following the Anthem, we turned and took a knee to better hear his safety and “legal stuff” talk. He warned of the dangers of the course, reiterated “if you can’t swim, don’t go in the water”, and then got into some really good perspective lessons for the group.


The MC reminded us of the fact that we were the few who were doing something hard. We were getting out of our comfort zone. We were pushing limits. He further reminded us that while there is hate in the world, we get to run. While there are bullies and school shootings, we get to run. There is hatred and discourse, we get to run. We GET to run, while others have to run. First responders, firefighters, and military members may not always get a choice to run toward danger, but we GET to run.

His reminders of the situation effectively shifted our perspective. We knew at that moment that we were choosing to do something great. For ourselves, for our fellow Mudders, and for our communities. We have the opportunity to inspire others and continue the conversation of helping each other rather than creating conflict. Before we ran our first steps of the course, my wife and I were already captivated by the holistic experience of the event.


Making our way through the course was another fantastic mental exercise for both of us. My wife has never done anything of this sort, so she was apprehensive about our preparation. Before the first obstacle, she shattered one of her mental limitations by jogging the entire way. The .8 miles to the first obstacle was the farthest she had run without stopping in years. Win #1. She had also worked herself into a frenzy about jumping into the ice plunge, but the second obstacle had us fully submerged in freezing cold water due to the ambient temperatures. In that moment she figured out that the ice bath wouldn’t be that bad after all and was able to shift her mindset to “I will” instead of “I can’t”.

At the end of the course, there were two obstacles she was convinced she couldn’t get over. She was not confident in her abilities. I assured her she was capable, and I reminded her of the power of teamwork. I went to the top of the first obstacle ahead of her, grabbed a fellow runner, and motioned for my wife to take a running start and aim for my hand. She did her best and it was just enough for me and the other guy to grab her wrists and muscle her over the wall. Standing atop the wall, she beamed with confidence. Several high-fives later we climbed down the backside and completed the course.


The lessons we re-learned in those couple of hours on the course were great reminders of how capable a person is when they open up to possibilities. Do not defeat yourself before the event. Take it step-by-step, rely on teamwork as needed, and always give 100%. Saying “I can’t” is a defeatist mentality. Everyone should strive to move away from “I can’t” and go straight to “I can” and “I will”. “I will” is a champion’s mentality. It is a blend of confidence, desire, and effort. Sitting in a restaurant replenishing our spent calories after the race, I looked my wife in the eyes and told her ”You are a champion”.

Stop saying “I can’t”. Replace that losing language with “I will”. Focus on step-by-step improvements. A little bit every day helps. Win. Be a champion.

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