Back in 1998, I remember reading a little cartoon posted on the wall of my First Sergeant’s office at Camp Lejeune, NC. There were several amusing little sayings on there, dealing with life in the military. One that still hangs in my brain after all these years is this: The enemy usually attacks at two times, when he’s ready and you’re not. Marines must be prepared for any eventuality because we never know with certainty what will happen once things start. We always made plans; we slept with our boots on a lot and our rifles next to us in case of attack. When we went on marches we carried three days worth of food, clothing, and ammunition. On patrols we carried extra water, armor, and even more ammunition. I learned in that life a very simple motto for reality; plans change.
Even now I still sleep with my shoes and clothes right next to the bed. When I go on trail runs I carry a first aid kit, fire starting materials, a day’s worth of water, toilet paper, a knife, and cellphone. I do this not because I’m expecting trouble or problems but because I am not, but I know things happen. Life is filled with little disturbances you might say, little ripples in the water. Many times the best laid plans fall apart over trivial matters; a car breaks down, a bill is overlooked, a meeting is forgotten. Too often these small things, these ripples become full blown tidal wave catastrophes. In our planning we didn’t allow for the unexpected, we didn’t have an alternate route so to speak. Instead of being able to flow on to another course of action the machine breaks down, life grinds to a halt and our dreams and hopes come undone.
Life is change, or should I say a healthy life is about change. Why are so many of us afraid of change today? Why do we continue on in the same destructive patterns and habits refusing to change, running from it, and hiding until reality overwhelms us? I have found throughout history those that have succeeded and thrived in business, sports, and life have welcomed change. They sought out adversity and the challenge it presented. Each setback or obstacle was met with enthusiasm and drive, and recognized for what it was; an opportunity to shine.
Plans change, life throws a monkey wrench in the works and we have to make choices. This isn’t bad though. Life and generally speaking the universe are neutral in regards to our existence. They bear no grudge and harbor no ill will. We decide the outcome. The same is true in our fitness and training.
Too many athletes in my sport have narrowed their view to a specific race, or even worse; obstacle. They have bent their focus on mimicking certain events to such an extent that instead of training to be prepared for any eventuality they have now become specialist. I see the same in weightlifters and runners too. This narrow focus has given birth to marvels of physical development. Men who are so defined and built up that they could be anatomy illustrations in a text book, but are so over developed that they cannot even bend down to pick up a Frisbee. Don’t forget the runners who have shaved every last ounce of body fat from their frames to achieve efficient lithe bodies that can run for hours on end. Put them in adverse conditions though and they come undone, their strength fails, their bodies shiver uncontrollably.
Different people like different things and to each athlete I give my congratulations and respect. I can’t follow you though; I can’t see the sense in it. I have written on this subject before and quite recently. I do it today again because I just cannot believe the lengths people will go to prepare for obstacle races. Mark my words we are but months away from someone building a full sized course in their backyard to practice on if it hasn’t happened already. It mystifies me, how each time a new fitness trend surfaces people will latch on to it to the point of obsession. It consumes their lives totally. I just wonder, what about the rest of your life? What about your career, your family, your life? Are we so needy and desperate to belong to something that we are willing to remold our lives to a sport. I understand passion, and enthusiasm I really do, but what I am seeing lately goes far beyond that. Fitness is a lifestyle commitment but it cannot be your life. It is meant to add to your experience and joy of the journey, not to become to the goal of it. What will these fervent followers and believers do when this bubble crashes? What will they do if they are injured and can no longer compete? What will they do if after all their hard practice and preparation, the course organizers change up the obstacles and event? Things change and the best laid plans rarely survive the first five minutes. What sees us through is our ability to adapt to changing conditions and environments.
This year we had planned to move to Colorado in June. We had planned on participating in 8 races across the country, but plans change. Now we will be moving in April, and most likely will only run three or four races in 2012. I’m not disappointed. I don’t feel let down. I am excited and happy. I look forward to what is to come even though I don’t know the outcome. Life awaits us out west, along with business opportunities and a chance to have the things we want, and that is much more important than any race or event. We are building a brand and helping people change their lives and overcome obstacles. All the rest is just scenery along the way. We train for life, our arena is the world. Plans change but that’s okay because we will change with them. We are not specialist or experts. We are human beings striving for balance.