If You Build It, They Will Come – Yeah, It Really Works

Mud Ninja Team - 2013

Finding people like this is one of the best ways to push yourself forward in life!

I want to share with you today a little something that I’ve been struggling with this OCR season, the problem of flagging motivation, and a very simple way to overcome this problem.

That way is to do your workouts with other people.

“WHOA!” I hear some of you saying.  “I can’t go out and work out with other people – I’m not ready for that yet.”  Well, yes you are, and I’m going to tell you why, right now:

Without a doubt in my mind, the absolute best OCR season I’ve ever had was two summers ago.  That was the year that my wife and I started putting a lot of time and effort into our charity, Train 4 Autism, and became team captains for our favorite local race here in Central Ohio, the Mud Ninja.  We publicized to friends and via social media, etc., that we were building a team for this race and that it was for all comers – first timers, experienced OCR folks, people who were habitual nature-based exercisers but had never tried a race, and even the people who were just trying to get back in shape or whatever.

My wife and I had been getting involved with the Columbus MovNat community at the time – we’d met a couple of certified trainers who have become friends, and via their seminars, classes, etc. and our efforts mentioned above we were able to put together a team of ten people.  And…one of the aforementioned trainers joined the team as well, and volunteered to host monthly MovNat workouts for the team.  We got dirty, learned a lot, and had a whole bunch of fun, as a team.

Race day came and we all had an absolute blast.  It was raining all day, the course was tough (Mud Ninja is diabolical for the amount of muddy obstacles that it contains), and we laughed and rooted each other on, lifted each other up over the mucky obstacles, and just had an awesome day.

Last year was different.  One couple had a baby, schedules didn’t work out for others, some people just decided that they’d ticked “run an OCR” off their bucket list, and injuries took their toll on people as well.  As a result, I ran the Mud Ninja by myself.  And while I always enjoy the race, it wasn’t nearly as fun as the previous year because I was alone.  This year was looking like it was going to be a similar situation, and I have been having some serious training blahs even though I love getting out into nature and gallivanting around.  Doing it alone all the time just isn’t as much fun.

I may have found an answer via Meetup.com – a new OCR participant group has just been created and I’m looking to join up with them.  So things is lookin’ up on that regard.

Pain shared, my brother, is pain not doubled but halved.  No man is an island.  - Neil GaimanSo what I’d like to point out is the strength of community to make things more fun and build personal motivation.  And that group doesn’t have to be an organized class, or anything like that, but just a group of friends (both current and potential future friends) that want to get out and run a race together.

The quote to the left here is completely true.  While we were training, or running the race, and there were difficulties as we challenged our bodies, I don’t ever recall thinking “oh, this is so tough, I just want to stop.”


  • There was laughing and jibes at ourselves, accompanied with those who were better at some obstacles rooting and helping those who weren’t quite as good through the challenges.
  • There were smiles instead of pain.
  • There was shared exultation as we got past things like the 12 foot wall, or the repeating mud pits, or what have you.
  • There was an attitude of no man left behind.

And here’s what there was NOT:

  • No one cared if we were being held up by slower members of the group.  Everyone had obstacles that they were better at or worse at.
  • No one cared how we looked.  In fact, we were exhorting each other to get MORE muddy.
  • No one was being judged on performance.

It was one of the most positive experiences I ever had in my life.  We were just a bunch of folks who got together to run a race as a team and experience something fun, challenging, and out-of-the-box. We tested ourselves and each of us came out with a new appreciation for what we could do.  Each one on that team had a blast and said they wanted to do it again.  Every one of them. 

The OCR community, when you jump into it, is absolutely awesome.  A lot of the attention, of late, is on the new-ish development of some of the money aspects of the races.  There are pro and semi-pro heats in some races.  There are TV contracts for races like Spartan Race.  There are awards, and personalities, and all the things that other sports have.  It’s to be expected as the sport matures and becomes more visible.

What it remains, though, is a place where just finishing a race, exploring your boundaries, bettering yourself, sharing your transformation stories, bragging about how many pushups you can do while cheering other people on who may not have started as long ago as you, and more are perfectly acceptable.  It’s a place where achievement isn’t measured by the finish time, but by the fact that everyone who runs an OCR is judged by their effort and strength of character improvements.

And if you don’t finish – it’s irrelevant, as long you try and you don’t give up without a good reason.

On one of my favorite podcasts, a daily motivational/personal development show and community called MorningCoach.com, the host has been talking this week about ‘getting out there” and building a community.  Having a community around you is simply something that is natural to the human condition.  We are literally hard-wired to seek out communities and exist and thrive within them.

You could certainly do worse than fall in with an OCR team in this regard.