By Adam McNamee
How an obstacle course can challenge you more than just physically
We have all seen the videos and photos of this fitness generation taking social media by storm highlighting the benefits of physical activity and healthy lifestyles, but are there benefits other than just physical?
True Grit Co-Founder, Adam McNamee, explains the mental grit it takes to take on physical challenges such as obstacle course racing and discusses the benefits and comradery that comes with such exercise.
With over 10 years’ experience in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as a Special Operations Commando, Adam talks challenges, doubt, benefits and how to deal with putting your body through the unexpected.
Why train for an obstacle course?
It’s a different kind of training. It’s not just going to the gym for a run because it’s a surprise every time. Every muscle in your body is exercised – even your brain.
The reason why obstacles are such a great form of exercise is because it pushes you to your limits both physically and mentally. What you get out of the course can also be affected by your attitude which is not unlike gym workout – but definitely has a bigger effect on our results. If you approach the course with an open mind, knowing it is going to be challenging, you will smash it. However, if you have a negative attitude, the course will be so much harder for you to overcome.
Training outdoors also has a few challenges of its own. Landscape and weather may not be your friend, but then that’s half of the fun too. The idea is to test your abilities – standard training is great but training for an obstacle course brings people together and develops comradery amongst participants and confidence within yourself.
An obstacle course is designed to be tough, but it also helps you to find the strength within.
What challenges will you face in an obstacle course?
Something I learnt in the ADF was if you push and prepare, nothing can stand in your way. Also, don’t feed the fear, embrace it, push through it – you will cross the finishing line.
If you’re going to race, then race hard and have fun doing it. Despite the pain, pushing past it is the biggest win you’ll have all day, other than crossing the finishing line. You’ll feel that sense of accomplishment knowing you pushed through the self-doubt and continued anyway. Naturally, physical exhaustion comes with the territory but there is also a physiological element participants need to consider.
Being able to have confidence in yourself and your ability is key to being successful in an obstacle course. If you don’t trust yourself, you’ll give up or skip the challenge. An obstacle course can be used as a metaphor for life, in that you do have interruptions and blockages throughout, but if you face them head on and try not to overthink, you’ll be onto the next thing before you know it. Seeing a lot of the participants find that strength within them is the best part of my job and why I started True Grit.
What gets you through?
I’ve been through a lot of trials in my life and I really do think it’s all about attitude. What gets me through the daily grind is one simple quote: “The only easy day was yesterday.”
Do the benefits outweigh the exhaustion?
Yes, the benefits do outweigh the muscle pain and physical exhaustion. It’s proven that exercise assists with stress, energy levels and increases confidence. When you have a goal to aim for and you achieve it, everything pays off. It should be hard but that’s what makes it all worth it once you reach that goal, just like crossing over a finish line.
About True Grit
True Grit is the first Australian designed military style obstacle course. The course is 10km-12km long with over 30 obstacles. The event is offered in most capital cities. The course is designed to test mental strength and endurance. The course layouts are based on the company’s military background, by utilising unique obstacles tailored around the vegetation and terrain of the land. True Grit aim to deliver a truly unique experience to those that participate.
Adam McNamee is a co-founder of True Grit. He has over 15 years’ experience in the Australian Army with the last 10 as a Special Operations Commando in a variety of hot-spot locations such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Timor-Leste. Adam’s last position was in charge of recruiting and selection of Special Forces in the Australian Defence Force. Adam understands the physical and psychological requirements of select individuals to undertake special operations.