The Mudder Mentality
I always had a problem with fun. Anything that was meant to be fun, I didn’t think sounded fun. Especially things involving dance, music, parties and looking nice. Bleh. Just give me a semantic quirk to muse over and I’m happy.
The weird thing was that after a few months of fitness training, things that didn’t sound fun in the least started to sound really fun. Not randomly, though. It was scientific research.
The most fun I had at training was when the weather was worst. The more mud there was, the more fun there was. The more water I had to run through, the better I felt. The more ice there was, the more I enjoyed being warmed up by doing press ups.
So, when we heard of Tough Mudder, it sounded just great. Ten to twelve miles, about twenty obstacles, some of which involve fire, water, ice and electricity. So, we applied. It sounds like a laugh.
But apparently it sounds like a nightmare that people wouldn’t want to do. So, clearly, something has happened to our brains. We have developed a Mudder mentality.
There are several theories floating about the internet accounting for the appeal of the various obstacle events and mud events that are growing exponentially in popularity worldwide. I have accounted for my application to the event above – but perhaps there were other factors in play.
Firstly, running is arguably dull. And long. And you don’t get anywhere except the end. I suppose it depends where you go and whether or not you have a hope of improving your personal best at the distance you are working on. I think there will be people who have maxed out at half marathon and want a fresh challenge – so, if you pep it up with a score of obstacles, that would be … fun! I haven’t run enough to use this as a reason to sign up though.
Another suspicion is that people don’t really want to do the event as such, but they want the evidence that they have done the event so that they can appear in a certain way on facebook and other social media sites. Would I be willing to pay what I’ve paid, just to get a picture of me with my pint of cider, my orange headband – ideally with a glorious sunset behind me, with my toned arms glistening with mud – for use as a profile pic? Alarmingly, I may be tempted! What would be to stop me borrowing these props and getting the profile pic anyway? Well, that wasn’t really the point. The point is to do the event.
Some people think that mud and endurance events are about expressing your gender identity. All things butch. All things macho. Except, women are keen to give it a go as well. All things feminist? All things equal? I wonder if I am subconsciously (well, now I am typing about it, consciously) thinking about womanhood and motherhood and roles and role models for my children. Surely it is a “good thing” to be fit, and a “good thing” to have fun and play like a child for once.
Then there is the question of the brain chemistry that goes on when you jump into a skip full of ice, or contemplate jumping off a platform into a muddy lake. It is a fact that every time I have been to training (while well) I have felt better at the end than I have at the start. Giddy, almost.
Most of my life has been concerned with developing my mind and spirit. My body was just carting my mind and spirit about kind of vacantly. It then careered into childbirth and woke up wondering how it got to be so out of shape! And hey – it turns out that a person is – well, I don’t know what… but for argument’s sake – mind body and spirit in an integrated way – a whole way – dare I say it- a holistic way. I feel better for feeling fitter. I just do.
The last reason for Mudder motivation is the anticipation of a lovely day out. It may not be sunny and dry – but SURELY it won’t be all that cold?!? Hopefully my team mates won’t leave me eating their dust after a mile and a half. Luckily camaraderie is rated higher than speed! Hopefully it will be a laugh. Hopefully we can avoid tetanus, e-coli and injury. Hopefully we will make it to the end. (I am kind of optimistic. Although 22% entrants do not finish, I am hoping these are the people who didn’t train and thought that twelve miles wasn’t all that far…)
I guess we’ll see.
In fact – that’s why I want to do it. Just to see.
(Here’s someone’s account of the event.)