Posted on May 09, 2018 by Josh Puttock

My best sporting achievement was participating in Toughest in 2016. It was my very first obstacle race and it really tested my fitness and strength; both physically and mentally. The course was 12 kilometers in length and consisted of obstacles, mud, log carries, monkey bars, wall climbs, crawls, uphill stretches, water, ropes, and slides. It was also freezing!

I had trained hard for all aspects of the race, from running to monkey bars, but three days before the race I was still very much struggling with monkey bars and pull-ups. I somehow had decided that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t strong enough. Maybe I was scared? Although I was determined, my mind had given up and taken over.

Confidence issues

Self-doubt, self-sabotage and low self-confidence had definitely kicked in. I hadn’t got much sleep the night before as I was too worried about embarrassing myself in front of my team, while the thought of picking up an injury also filled me with fear. But once the race started and the adrenaline hit, all those negative thoughts went away.

I was faced with obstacle after obstacle. As soon as I covered myself in mud for the first time, I started to enjoy myself – and I was even able to tackle the monkey bars. Some of the team decided not to try them, opting for the burpees option, but I went for it. I nearly managed the whole row… I felt so proud, I did it. I did it! Who would have thought?

Mind over matter

This race, and the monkey bar moment in particular, is something I’ll always remember doing. I really learned how important your mental game needs to be, and how much believing in yourself can help. We need to learn to control our mind, and it’s so important. All the negative thoughts and worries you may have can really weigh you down, no matter how hard you’ve trained your body.

We only truly progress when we place ourself outside of our comfort zone. I know it sounds like a silly motivational quote, but we only grow when we try something unknown to us. Whether it’s a new experience or a new physical challenge (with or without mud, climbs and cold weather), we can all improve by taking on and completing a new challenge.

By Jefferson Agudelo