Despite the sport of Obstacle Racing becoming more and more of a mainstream fitness trend each year, I feel it’s still safe to say that at times our training methods are looked upon as slightly outlandish, and perhaps a wee bit “out of the box”. For example, if you are a member of any one of the numerous online OCR groups you’re sure to have seen photos posted (or perhaps you’ve been doing the posting!) of people in their neighborhoods dragging tires, scaling walls, carrying heavy objects and climbing ropes as they prepare for their next big race. Gone are the days of jazzy aerobics classes and in-home elliptical sessions for the OCR enthusiast. Instead we have traded in our 5 pound hand weights for 20 pound kettlebells, sandbags or rucksacks, and we would rather turn our garage into a fully functioning gym than a relaxing sports den. We train our bodies to be challenged, we seek adventure, and our workouts reflect our desire to tackle our next race with ferocity.
It seems as though the world is taking notice of our propensity for the unconventional, and slowly but surely our love of the unorthodox workout is becoming recognized in a positive light. I began thinking about this recently while watching a YouTube video that Reebok recently released titled “Live Free Range”. The video depicts a chicken who realizes he no longer wants to be caged like all of his peers, and decides to break free of his confined home, taking to the open fields and roads. Despite encountering obstacles which pose grave threats to the chicken’s well being, he relishes in his new-found ability to roam free. While traveling farther from the coop the chicken happens upon a billboard advertising a “Fitness Barn”, which depicts a room filled with treadmills and alludes to a confined fitness environment similar in nature to the coop he had just escaped. While gazing at the billboard, several runners speed by and turn off of the road onto a dirt trail, thus sending the message that they too have selected to “Live Free Range” by stepping away from the societal norm and pursuing their passion for fitness without being confined to a hamster wheel.
I love this message, as I feel that it encourages us to break away from the pressure to fit in with the majority, and to instead find our own path when it comes to choosing how we live a fit and healthy life. Now I’m not saying that running on a treadmill is bad by any means. If attending a gym, running on a treadmill, or participating in a controlled setting to achieve your fitness goals is what makes you happy, then keep it up! Each of us has our own specific preferences when it comes to staying healthy, however I have come to believe that the majority of us who choose Obstacle Racing as our favorite pastime tend to have a specific enjoyment of the fresh air which getting out into the great outdoors provides. When preparing for a Spartan Race, many of us strive to simulate the conditions which we will encounter on race day, and we simply cannot experience this by hopping on a treadmill and running in place for an hour. We instead yearn to train outside, to run up and down hills, to get the feel of dirt under our shoes, to fill our lungs with the energizing air of the great outdoors and to feel our heartbeat sync with the pounding of our feet. To be a Spartan is to break free of social constraints. Spartans truly embody what it means to “Live Free Range”.
So how about you? Do you Live Free Range? I sure do! Now with full transparency I must confess that I do spend a portion of my time in a gym each week (and I really do love my gym!), but in addition to that I also make a point several times a week to get outdoors and run, play, and enjoy the pleasure which training outside provides. Recently my family and I even built our very own Monkey Bars and 8′ Wall in our backyard! Now we can train together, laugh together, grow together, and become stronger together, all while enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. By choosing to engage in physical activities which are a bit outside of the box, we are also pursuing our passion and making working out fun, vibrant and refreshing, and this takes healthy living to a whole new level of fulfillment.
Are you going through the motions? Training day in and day out on machines that provide you little to no sense of gratification? Perhaps it’s time for you to join the ranks of the multitude of OCR fanatics who aren’t afraid of stepping outside the box to work toward their fitness goals. Find what makes you happy, then get out there and have a blast getting healthy. Live your life out of the box, I promise it will be so incredibly worth it, and you’ll be that much closer to making 2015 an epic year in your own personal health and wellness. We’ll see you out there!