The goal with any sort of training is the ability to keep the focus on the goal and to always feel as though there is progress being made to accomplish that goal. The problem with Spartan training as a team is that, because none of us have ever actually run a Spartan, we aren’t even sure what to expect. I’m not even sure “run a Spartan” is the right phrase—maybe it’s “none of us have ever Spartan-ed.”
Regardless, we all train, sometimes together, sometimes alone. And there is this curious side glancing that occurs, as if to belie that we aren’t even sure if what we are doing is up to grade. Personally, I’m convinced I may be over- and under-training simultaneously. The workout that we are doing is intense and challenging. It is very worthwhile to have it as a weekly touchstone to gauge progress over that week. However, I wonder if, by pouring so much into training for this touchstone workout, I’ll end up over-training to the point that I will be exhausted when it comes time to actually run the race.
And I’ll go ahead and say it—I’m afraid. I’m not afraid of the race itself, and I certainly don’t doubt my ability to take part and finish it. No, my fear runs much deeper. My fear is of climbing the rope. This is a deep-seated fear that goes back to second or third grade and feeling like a failure in gym class because I couldn’t climb the damned rope.
Understand I get the whole “I’m an adult now” and “I’m a fitness specialist.” I get that my upper body is much, much stronger, even in a relative sense, than it was back then. But still…it’s like running into your grade school teacher who used to scare the crap out of you as kid. Yes, you are an adult now. Yes, you have kids of your own. Yes, you are a strong and effective member of society. But that voice and that look in the eye still sends chills down your spine. And when I talk to people about the race and the issues that they might have, it may take a little digging, but at some point, everyone mentions the rope. You can talk about fire and barbed wire and broken glass and stair runs, but no one seems to linger on that—there is no juvenile frame of reference. But mention the rope climb and everyone says, “How the hell are we supposed to do that?”
As I mentioned last week, I have started doing Tabatas on a rope machine that we have at the gym in Brooklyn. That’s great, I guess. I step off feeling like I have a taste for the rope. But, honestly, the whole sequence is performed seated. I feel that, for my own emotional well-being and the well being of my teammates, we need to find a rope and start climbing. We can’t face the terror on the day of the race. If we can do some pre-race climbing, then we can hug the scared little children inside us and truly conquer the Spartan.
Because, in the end, no little bit of barbed wire is going to stop any of us. But that rope? Brrrrrr……