Friday, March 26, 2010

Warrior Dash

Last night on Dr. A, we talked a little about the Warrior Dash.  I thought today I'd give a little background on how I found it and why I'm so excited about blazing this new trail.

About four months ago, a friend of mine became a fan of the page for "Warrior Dash" on Facebook.  I had never heard of such a thing, but when you're a near-30-year-old who grew up on He-Man and American Gladiators, your interest gets piqued by such adrenaline-charged monikers.
I ventured to the Facebook page, only to find a brief description of an obstacle race and the offer of free beer. The visuals were interesting and somewhat reminiscent of The Flintstones, so I proceeded to the homepage.(flash heavy)
To my surprise, I was greeted with images of men and women running through FIRE!!! Immediately I sent a text to a good friend of mine encouraging his complicity in what I knew would be my newest endeavor.

In the month prior to finding what I considered the penultimate 'geek' race, I had been slowly but surely evolving a new attitude about exercise in general, but more specifically about running. A post on Nature's website led me down the rabbit hole of what is commonly referred to as barefoot running.  While not limited to truly bare feet, the sport revolves around the basic premise that humans as a species were designed to run and tennis shoes/running shoes may be the root of a lot of the joint stress and injuries sustained by modern runners.
I was always a firm believer in Fight-or-Flight as a dichotomous option. I joked that some people were born fighters and others were born "flighters," the only other option being "food." With that in mind, and a 6'3" frame lugging around 265 pounds (which has slimmed from 290# a little over a year ago), I worked to make myself an efficient, capable fighter.  Not MMA cage-style, but able to defend myself if the need arose. What I failed to realize, and what my research led me to conclude was something radical: I could be both, and would benefit from being both.
I read the nature article and several of the source articles, followed closely by the book "Born to Run," by Christopher McDougall. I invested in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. I started running and enjoying it! Finding the Warrior Dash occurred during this mental revolution and led me to begin thinking about exercise in a totally new way.  Here was exercise (both the barefoot running and the Dash) that for all appearances could be fun. A celebration of activity, rather than the drudgery of going to the gym. Exercise, not because I have to, but because I want to.

What the Warrior Dash represents is a totally new way of thinking for me. While it incorporates aspects of existing exercise programs (the Gauntlet from American gladiators, the Crucible from the Marines) there are also aspects that remind me of a video game (running through FIRE!). While the Wii made entertainment into exercise, this turns exercise into entertainment. It becomes FUN. Yes, it still hurts on occasion.  Yes, there is an element of conditioning required. But in the final analysis, this race did something neither a marathon nor an IronMan could ever do. It made me excited about exercising.

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