1.) Pain. It doesn’t have to stop you. Hobbling through the forest for hours in mud and muck, interspersed by random bouts of extreme water temperature and hypothermic reaction? Taught me what “Grace” and “The Filthy 50″ taught me long ago: breathe through the suck and just keep on going. It’s just pain. You’ll make it.
2.) Camaraderie. Strangers will help you — and you will help strangers. And, after someone helps pull you up from a fingertip grab on a 12 foot ledge, yeah, you feel a strange kind of bond. Sort of like going through the WOD, but with a lot more dirt and cold and a higher misery index.
3.) Joy. The simple things in life become that much sweeter after you are denied them. After an hour or two of being cold and wet at Tough Mudder, there’s something about dry and warm that’s really, really appealing. After depriving yourself of oxygen and resting in a WOD, you really enjoy the simple fact of air in your lungs and a slow, steady heartbeat.
4.) Perseverance. The easy way out is always there, in Tough Mudder, in the WOD, in life. You could just quit and walk away at any time. But you don’t.
5.) Finishing. This too shall pass. Tough Mudder ends. A WOD ends. You proved yourself again and life goes on.
Two every different experiences and yet quite a few things in common. It’s no wonder that CrossFitters make up a very large percentage of the Tough Mudder population — we dig this sort of experience. Make it tough, we like it. Make it hard enough that most people don’t even want to try? Yeah, we’re down for that. Why? Who knows. Maybe we like challenges, maybe we like pain, maybe we like to prove ourselves again and again: any and all of these answers could be graded as correct.
I’m still sorting out my Tough Mudder experience, but I can say this: It was informed by, driven by, and finished by my CrossFitting. I don’t know how those other folks on that Tough Mudder course got through hours on a Vermont mountainside, but I know how I did. CrossFit gave me the physical capacity to complete the tasks, and it gave me the mental fortitude to conquer anything. There were tons of CrossFit shirts out on the Tough Mudder course and for good reason: we learn these lessons every day, proving it for a few hours in the woods is just fun to us . . .