Is this goal crazy?
You would be surprised to hear how often my first meeting with a client starts with that exact sentence. Oddly enough I am probably the worst person to ask that question to because I rarely think anything is too crazy to attempt. In fact, quite the opposite. I think it is silly how many people float about wasting their lives never trying anything ‘crazy’. Recently a lady asked me to work with her and said she thought her goals were crazy and unrealistic. Six weeks later her body composition test revealed that she had dropped 13lbs of fat and gained four pounds of muscle. Her clothes are fitting differently and her big goals don’t look so crazy anymore. I love it!
Yesterday a man that I have coached for running the past few years asked me if entering the Canadian Death Race next year was crazy. (The 125 km course begins and ends on a 4,200ft. plateau, passes over three mountain summits and includes 17,000 ft. of elevation change and a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell’s Gate Canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers. During the August long weekend each year extreme athletes, individually and in relays, push themselves to the limits of their endurance against the breathtaking background of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Each year, well-trained and totally committed, they battle heat, cold, altitude and themselves. There are no big prizes for winning — finishing is hard enough. And the bragging rights are priceless.) Do I think that’s crazy? Nope, I think it’s awesome! In fact, I think that not doing such things is crazy! We only get one life — why waste it only to look back and regret the things we didn’t do?
Last year I was training for a Spartan Race and one of my clients asked if I thought she could finish such a race. ‘Absolutely!’ I said. It took some convincing, and a lot of training, but she not only finished, she did very well. She then went on to do the Zombie Run obstacle course in Sylvan Lake, another Spartan Race this year (in Edmonton) and is registered for the Spartan Sprint in Calgary this weekend, the Super Spartan in Red Deer and Spartan Beast in Kamloops this fall. Do I think she’s crazy? No, I think people who sit around watching TV and observing other peoples’ lives instead of living their own – they are crazy.
In 2010 I was training for my fourth Ironman triathlon, which, if you don’t know, is a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and a 42.2 km marathon. It is considered the single hardest single day race in the world and I agree 100%. During my training in Penticton in July that year, I had a chance meeting through a friend with a man named Nick – who had not only done several Ultramans, but had won a few times. I had heard of Ultraman before and always thought now that is crazy! A three day race including a 10 km swim, a 425 km bike and a double marathon of 84.4 kms. As we spoke though something inside me woke up and started to consider this madness. By the end of the conversation I knew I wanted to do the race. When registration opened up a few months later I submitted my application for the invitation only race and crossed my fingers. I was accepted a few months later when the spots were announced and not only did I finish the race in 2011 I was fourth place male and sixth overall in a time of 27 hours and 32 minutes (I was nine minutes away from fourth place overall). It was the race of my life. Now I am 16 weeks away from the Ultraman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Yup, me. Crazy! I’m just a small town guy who owns a gym and I will be racing against professional athletes and people from all over the world in the heat of the big island in Hawaii. My training ride yesterday was nearly nine hours long at 255 kms and today I ran 30 kms in the heat of the day. I am doing an Ironman distance race in two weeks as a training event and to validate my fitness levels for the Ultraman Committee prior to the world championships. But as I said I think not doing this race would be far more crazy than doing it.
To all my clients and friends who did the Mud Hero race this past weekend and to those doing the Spartan Race this coming weekend, I applaud your error in judgement and wish you further craziness!
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.