Wild Forest Gym Jam – Mudstacle Sprint Series 2015

 I managed to combine a weekend of catching up with family with racing – what a great weekend!  In that time I also managed to visit the bench which was put up at Pinner Golf Club for my dad, it looks great, he would have loved it!IMG_0523

The race I had excitedly signed up for at the last minute – a week prior – was that being run by my former coach Michael Cohen of Team Wild Forest Gym.  It was the first of the Mudstacle Sprint Series:  Wild Forest Gym Jam Sprint Mudstacle Series at the new location of Brentwood – Nuclear Races location.

It was an early start to the day – 415am to be precise but I hoped it was going to be worth it.  Michael was distracted by lots of things to do on the way over to the race location and I was, underneath my tiredness, excited to see the location.  The weather was perfect for the day, as I walked into the forest where the gym was, I knew immediately it had Michael’s feel to it, you simply knew it was his creation and embodied how he trained his team within a natural environment.

I headed for a kip in the van while in the backgound I was trying to ignore all the voices and cars arriving, but it wasn’t happening.  There was a real buzz in the air as I headed back to the sign-in area to get ready.  Racers catching up and having a look around.  I had had a wee walk around the route and found some of the obstacles challenging and was worried about them, others I knew how I would attack them.

We were taken around the course by the WFG team, Caine encouraged us round at a decent pace and we were left to play on the obstacles.  Its the only way to describe it, racing what you love and enjoy can only be described as play!  It wasn’t long before we had to head over to the start line but we were all too keen.  The heats were going out 2 mins apart, this means that my heat had approximately 30 minutes to wait, in the coolness of the forest it was in fact chilly!

I was keen to get going, , I didnt know many folks so had no idea of how it would progress.  Of we went winding and weaving around the forest trails, up and over the fallen trees.  It was a packed sprint course, not suited toward my own abilities in terms of distance, a very short 2.3km BUT packed with obstacles which were very dominnant on challenging the upper body.  Obstacles included a tyre wall, slatted wall, a log and 2 x tyre carry, ‘hang tough’ which was my very first ring swing – have to say loved this part.  Monkey bars with a twist, a ledged obstacle.  Now this was my toughest obstacle and one I hadn’t been able to do on my own run through.  I am fairly short, many of the obstacles really challenge us shorties just getting onto them, but I will conquer them with my fitness. And you know what?

I did, every single time in the heats I qualified for, which unfortuantely was only the quarter finals but I am happy with this given my training status and the incredibly high quality racers at the event.  But I have to also give credit to the young marshall at this obstacle, she was incredibly motivational and supportive, never letting you give up!  We also had to conquer a 7 metre rope,11018790_10153425429734866_8291415566294941112_o now this was b***dy high!  I worked so so hard to get to the top of this and gutted but I failed each time!  I was so tired each time I failed I managed to walk away with 2 impressive inner thigh rope burns something I have always avoided in the past.  Unfortunately my failure meant I had to complete my 10 then 20 burpees.    The final and fun obstacle was the Nuclear races quarter pipe, again, one I had never come across.  I was admittedly nervous of this one but it was great and then a short run to the finish line.

After the first heat I was gubbed, 11219731_1628588550691095_1870011222238686125_n (1)oh god this made qualifying for the next heat nerve wracking as I knew my forearms were already on fire which meant the next heat was going to be even harder.  Recovery during the interim period was tough.

This event was exciting and soooo new, never taken part in an event of this type with repeated qualifying heats and the very nature of a very short race.  I loved the difference of pace, highlighting a large number of key fitness weaknesses which I was disappointed at but couldnt really same anything as I haven’t been training as hard choosing to prioritise my work with clients over my own fitness.

A very well done to the winners and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to take part in this first event and alongside so mnay top quality racers.  Not only that I managed to finally meet Bethany from the WFG squad and catch up with the guys Caine, Mark and Michael!

11351400_1628588374024446_3344723368344441122_n (1)                                           11289423_10153425469634866_885807639066190130_o                                          10987707_10153425474009866_1750372069998946768_o

Challenging you, Challenging Me: Mental Health

I contemplated many a time how to write this blog post and many will go to town on it for their own reasons, but thats okay because that is them and this is me, but as a word of warning, I will take down any negative comments in any shape or form.  This is not the place for them.  (I do like to be clear! 😉 )thinking-1471454-639x432

I also wondered which of my blog sites to write it under, this one, my personal blog post journaling most of my training and racing experiences OR my business blog under Louise’s PT 4 U (https://louisept4u.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/ladies-i-apologise-for-raising-the-embarrassing/).  But you know, there is no realm where it is not applicable, therefore I will share across the board and if you feel this blog will help anyone please feel free to also share.  Sometimes we must choose to do whats right, or at least I like to help others and hope that in sharing this it will help someone.

Its a big scary world oot there, to expose yourself for all to see is ridiculously scary, but I am also not known for being put off doing what I believe to be the right and honest thing, BUT and this is a big but to put out your worries and fears where others may or may not support you leaves you with a sinking pit where your stomach used to be.

So with that, you are probably wondering exactly what is this post about, get around to it woooman for gawds sake!

Within the scope of my business I have been supporting the month of May #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth by posting tips every few days on both twitter and facebook, primarily to give people some ideas or suggestions that they may or may not decide to use.  I profusely support mental health issues in Dundee and have raised money for the local charity, DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health – http://damh.org.uk/ ), I have detailed these efforts in some of my blogs.  My conviction to do this comes from my own experiences within mental health.  Those who have known me for a long time may know of parts of my journey, or maybe you have guessed at some point.  .  .  .  .

I have suffered from mental health difficulties for much of my life, depression, anxiety, stress, panic attacks, they have all reared their heads at varying points throughout my life and to varying degrees.  The depth of which I will not go into within this blog, I am actually a very private person but so many times I see the blogs I write helping others and as I write more blogs for the area I specialise in within my work role – ‘women through the passage of life, at any age’ I see how letting others see that we all go through very similar experiences at varying points and for differing reasons within our lives but nevertheless the similarities are there.

priority-mental-health-1546123-638x477Depression is a dark cloud that masks every part of life when it emerges, we can sometimes feel a shadow in the background of our lives, growing like a dark cloud over the bright sun-lit sky and it comes to nothing because we pick up on the tell-tale signals and use strategies to subvert.  At other times its almost like it appears from nowhere and I haven’t even been aware of what is emerging, I have not been aware on any level that something is amiss, friends may enquire but denial is the initial reaction to any query about anything we are not happy with or feel strong enough to admit.  I have been rejected by family and ‘shushed’, that happened a number of times both by friends, family and those professionals, that is all it takes.  I also listen to those around me, how they view mental health and you know, anyone reading this who has suffered mental health issues will understand what I mean when I say, we gauge who is safe and who is not within our group of friends.  But it is also not all that we are, I am more than my mental health difficulties, I attribute alot of my strength to the journey I have had and the challenges I have had to overcome throughout my life. Let me also add, I have some of THE most fantastic friends!hand-in-hand-1310453-640x480

Words often used to describe me include, strong, independent, adventurous, determined, an encourager, ambitious and hahaha bonkers (now don’t go off on one, they simply refer to my challenges and my funny nature 😉 ) and vulnerable (this one surprised me), not words that the stereotypical view of depression or mental health issue sufferers are associated with.  Common misconceptions that are held about those with depression include: those that are happy on the outside dont get depressed, depression is only related to life events, those with depression are weak, fragile, can’t cope with any stress, you must take medication when depressed.  These are simply a few of the misconceptions, which are half-truths for want of a better description.

It amazes me that despite the statistics, 350 million individuals suffer from depression across the globe (WHO, 2015), with a quarter of the British population suffering from depression and anxiety (Mental Health Foundation), this remains a taboo topic in the 21st century.  It really does pain and anger me that people feel worried and have difficulty in talking about it, not because sufferers feel it is not right to talk but because we, as a society have created and continue to endorse this feeling by NOT talking, by not making it acceptable to discuss our mental health situation.  If you broke a leg, cut your leg open or in my case damaged a nerve (can not be seen) you would seek out the physical help of a doctor, we are more sympathetic to the implications and what it means practically for our lives.  This will only change when we really do become brave, when we are willing to be be supportive, empathetic, respectful of those who suffer from mental health difficulties.

No matter the position you hold, no matter what your job is, how old you are, we can all be susceptaible to mental health difficulties, be that person that reaches out.  People, on the whole, your friends, want to help, they want to know, let them.  In these words I do not mean it is easy, Isimply mean reach out, as its written, no underlying meaning.

How do I cope?  I strive to reach higher physical challenges, I strive to be the best that I can and to really see what I can do within the capabilities of my physical self.  I take on challenges for me, to be a better me and to help others, because you know what, if I can do it, so can you.  I am very much linked to my physical strength, I believe I am a testament to what physical activity and health can do to help relieve the symptoms of depression and mental health issues and I am hugely passionate to share with others its possibilities.

Currently, racing in obstacle races is what I do, I am very priviledged to be sponsored by some fantastic sponsors and friends, my chosen family.  This is where I leave it all out there, bettering me.  SO when I step up to the start line, I am racing no-one but myself!

In the past Ihave written poetry, trained, spoken with friends and learnt when to take timeout.  We must each work out what it is we need to do for ourselves.  We each have a unique story to tell that is our lives, our past, please do not judge unless you walked in those very shoes I wore.


Thank you for reading folks, I appreciate you taking the time!

(Picture top right (1) by Ed Garcia from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/thinking-1471454; picture 3 by Siewlian from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/hand-in-hand-1310453)