Obstacle racing has been gaining popularity as a sport lately and has certainly added a certain edge to the world of ultra and running competitions. This could be attributed to the "back to the roots" nature of steeplechase, which gives office people a chance to "be a Marine" for a day to experience what would be considered insane or, at the very least, unconventional in their daily routine.
There are thousands of races around the world, happening almost every weekend. Some probably very close to you. But why should anyone consider signing up for such a crazy adventure? How can you benefit and improve your lifestyle?
The fact of the matter is that obstacle courses involve the kinds of challenges that you are or will eventually face in your daily life, such as professional development, social interactions, mental and physical integrity. More importantly, obstacle courses help you develop mental frameworks to meet these challenges and prosper.
Acquire leadership skills
Obstacle races can make you a better leader. Regardless of whether you prefer to compete alone or in a team of like-minded people, you will have to employ some strong personality traits to overcome obstacles. Most importantly, obstacles are not just physical barriers that you have to overcome. Often they are mental thresholds, like those you have encountered in other areas of your life.
Just as your team members would not listen to a bad leader or someone who does not convey good leadership values, your body will not take you very far unless you master self-control and self-discipline, creating a solid foundation for leadership.
Learn to overcome mental obstacles
In the sandy and muddy trenches, you will meet the unexpected. Depending on the duration of the race and the number of different obstacles, your stress responses will be activated multiple times. Mainly your response to the monotony of the so-called 'daily routine,' the main mental obstacle you will encounter in your life.
However, on the field, failure is not an option, and the only way to finish the race is to accept the challenges and the possibility of failure. Running mile after mile, crushing one obstacle after another, swimming out of the murky waters and jumping into the mud, carrying your tired body, you will want to stop many times for numerous reasons, asking yourself: "Why am I doing this?".
This question may be something you also ask yourself in your daily life. The only difference is that, in the field, you answer this question by putting yourself in a different environment. While training for one of these races, and during the actual race, you will push your mental limits. Other things in life could get easier too, and you could stop making so many excuses for not doing or finishing things.
Absorb the sense of achievement
Everyone enjoys a boost of confidence, and the boost that follows a full race can never equate to your selfie becoming popular on Instagram.
At the finish line, you'll be rewarded with a shiny medal, a shirt, or sometimes even a beer (which after a truly demanding course will taste better than any other beer you've ever had). However, all of these pale in comparison to the emotional experience. You will have the feeling of being part of a bigger picture; bigger than your ego. You will be part of a newly formed tribe of achievers.
Enjoy the sisterhood and teamwork
People who are going through extreme difficulties (physical and mental) together will experience a strong sense of bonding. This sense is not much different from the experience of primal hunters and explorers, working together as a tribe. And very often, there are strangers on your team, helping you with an especially challenging obstacle.
Every steeplechase tribe, whether it's rallied for fun muddy races, challenges like the Tough Mudder, or competitive fans like Spartan Races, will become a unique and welcoming community you can always trust.