Coming back with the shield

Greek historian Plutarch teaches us that, when Spartans went into war, their women would encourage them to “come back with your shield, on on it.” Spartan shield was big and heavy, allowing the soldier to protect himself and to protect the soldier standing next to him when marching into formation. The only reason to throw it away was to be able to run faster without its weight when fleeing from the enemy, the ultimate shame and treason for a Spartan. Cowards weren’t appreciated in the hard and strict Spartan society. So coming back with your shield (which meant you hadn’t fled or abandoned the other soldiers), or on it (meaning you had had an honorable death in battle and you were being brought back by using the shield as a plank for transport) were the only acceptable options.

I was thinking about that last Sunday before starting the Spartacus Run of Enghien, an obstacle Spartan race I participated into with some people from work. I had been dreading that day since I registered to the race, but once I had said I was going to do it, there was no going back. It would have been like throwing the shield. So there I was, Sunday morning, taking a train to meet my fellow Spartan crazy friends, scared and excited about whatever would happen. I was determined to finish the Run and at least try to pass all obstacles, specially since I discovered the “easy way out” from doing an obstacle was an alternate lane called “chicken lane”. Seriously. Chicken. Nope. I couldn’t take willingly the chicken lane, out of the question. I know my teammates wouldn’t think bad of me if I did, butI had at least to try.

It ended up being one of the funniest and most rewarding experiences I have ever done. Ok, I needed help from my team on several moments (specially when climbing walls, big thank you, guys!), and I couldn’t climb the rope (I have no idea about the technique to do it and I dont have enough arm strength to climb it without the technique), but I don’t care because I passed the monkey bars without falling into the water beneath them! It was the thing I was dreading the most, and yes, for two seconds I hesitated about taking the chicken lane. But if I never tried to pass them I would never know if I was capable of doing it. And hey, I am. Way to go, girl!

I’m still waiting for the medal –I don’t know why they didn’t give us the medal at the end of the race, we’ll get it through mail, which is actually a bit disappointing–, and my body has been hurting since Sunday. But it was a hell of a day, a great experience I will surely repeat. Specially now that I know what I need to work on to improve and be able to keep pace and don’t slow my team members (running endurance and upper body strength).

Some friends think I am crazy for having done it, and for wanting to do it again. I think it would be crazy not to do it again.



Run, María, run

This is it, I’m going public: I’m training in order to do the 20km run in Brussels next May. This been said, I don’t think I’ll be ready. So even though I’m training for it, I don’t think I’ll actually run it. Let me explain.

When I was a kid, I loved gym classes and I trained as a ballerina, up until I was 20 or 21 years old. I was fit, enjoyed physical exercise (the sweatier the better, because it meant I was really exercising). Then, life happens, and I stopped exercising. And life keeps happening, and a few years back, because of some various health issues, I had to start practising some sport again (my doctor went from «it’d be good» to «you should» to «I’m prescribing you sport. Do it»). It was a good timing, because a gym had opened at 5 minutes walk from my place, with nice installations and a nicer price. So there I went. And having payed for it, i intended to go, so that money would not be lost.

It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but once I started to recover my former physical condition, it became easier and funnier. I attended some Zumba classes and I discovered Tae-Bo. I forced myself tongo to the classes, and then, when I was already used to work out, I started going on my own to do some fitness on my own. Last year I ditched Zumba and started some Muay Thai classes, which I love. What I had never done was running on the treadmill. Bike, ok. Weights, ok. Elliptical bike, not a huge fan but still ok. Treadmill, no thanks.

I had had some issues with my ankles in the past, and I know I have to be careful with what kind of exercise I do, and running or jogging are not the best ankle-friendly disciplines. I had the perfect excuse not to run. The real one is much more simple: I get bored. Running for the only sake of running? Boring.

Then, after a deal with a friend and some encouragement of other friends, I went to the gym and started my workout with a 10 minute run. And I was surprised I could handle it. Since then, I’ve been running inside and outside a few times, and, even if I’m not running long distances, I’m doing fine. And it’s a bit less boring because now I know why I’m doing it. First reason: my gym classes are more focused on strength, so I need to work on my cardio to compensate. Second: if I’m ready, why not run an organised run? Even if I’m not ready when the moment comes, having the deadline of May’s run helps me persevere in my workout resolution(s). So let’s #goforit (my motivational workout hashtag).

Top image, from Mr. Wonderful app: «Run after your dreams. Even if you don’t catch them, you’ll have at least done some exercise »