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Sometimes it requires climbing a mental mountain before taking the first step towards one's fitness. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit:

Why is it so difficult for me to get motivated? You’d think at my age, a hefty 40 years, I’d have figured out a way to fool myself into doing things that are good for me but that I don’t particularly want to do.

Recently, without thinking, I signed up to a physical challenge in June. It’s called Total Warrior and features a 12 kilometre course packed with obstacles of varying levels of difficulty — such as hard, harder, hardest. I don’t know what possessed me.

The obstacles include monkey bars, carrying logs, rope swings and a vat of ice water that requires swimming through. And there will be mud: tonnes and tonnes of mud. So much so, that they’ve warned participants not to wear any clothes on the day that they are hoping to wear again.

My biggest battle will be with myself to work out and work up to the starting line with a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings. Although my teammates are roughly my age in years they are ahead of me in fitness

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Videos highlighted on the challenge website show last year’s event, where hundreds of athletic-looking young people smile as they casually leap into pools of mud, swimming along through who knows what strains of bacteria and scum.

I’m terrified.

It’s mere weeks away — 17 weeks to be exact — and I’ve yet to visit the gym. I know I need to go to get into some form of shape to save myself from abject humiliation in front of my teammates and the charity we are representing. Not to mention the hundreds of other participants and my small but hopeful club of aptly-bribed cheerleaders.

I’ll be taking part in the challenge along with my work colleagues on behalf of our hospital’s charity, so the good intention is there. We’ll be helping other people through our own suffering, which makes the eventuality less traumatic and further toward the side of fun. Yet, here I am still procrastinating.

Mental mountain

I’ve got serious cause to worry, though. I’ve done very little in the past few weeks that could be described as exercise. Like millions of others I began the year with the greatest of intentions — that clever word concocted to make us simple humans fool ourselves into thinking we’re useful.

But like everything else, life got in the way, and my intention began to wither and writhe until it became dogged laziness. Now I’ve got a mental mountain to climb, let alone the half barrel wall and the monkey bars. My biggest battle will be with myself to work out and work up to the starting line with a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings. Although my teammates are roughly my age in years they are ahead of me in fitness.

Perhaps if I put together a training plan for the next couple of months it will be easier than my current regime of winging it and hoping for the best — which will inevitably be the worst.

Thirsty puppy

The upshot of all this is that I will be participating as part of a team and I’m hoping we’ll stick together during the challenge — no one left behind and all that. I just don’t want to embarrass everyone involved by being absolutely dire and trailing behind said team panting like a thirsty puppy.

We’ve been scheduled for a team photo shoot to raise awareness of our fund-raising intentions among the rest of the staff in the coming weeks. Before the race we’ll be taking to the hospital wards to urge everyone to sponsor us for the charity and ensure we don’t quit the challenge. When that begins there will be no turning back. I’m bound for mud and the scrum of a field full of people better able than me.

The next 17 weeks will be a test of my own determination and grit and a stand-off between myself and the muddy miles of obstacles ahead. At this point I’m betting on the mud.

—Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.

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