The Mental Obstacle
I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I was struggling to summon the willpower to actually type the words. I’m used to talking more about races and products; this post is going to be much more personal. This will be very much a First World Problem, but I felt like there would be value in putting it out there.What does OCR mean to you? OCR is my Happy Place. It is the place I go to when I want to forget all of my problems or life issues I may currently be having. OCR allows me to escape to a zone where my only worry is getting from point A to point B as fast as I can. It doesn’t matter the race brand, there is always something special about the energy at an OCR. You’re surrounded by like-minded people who have spent so much time preparing physically and mentally for this event. Every race is the culmination of what you have trained for. It is the opportunity to put it on the line and show everyone your best effort.
2020 was going to be a big year for me, not just as a racer, but also because of the many projects I was working on. I had an extensive list of races I was planning to be at, and goals I wanted to achieve to become as involved in this sport as I could. From working with race brands and product companies, I had it all planned and figured out.Then in March, Covid-19 happened…And all of those plans disappeared in an instant…No more races. No more events. No in-person networking.At first I was in denial. Races will be back soon. I thought this was just a temporary setback.But as I continued to get more news, and began to cross off race after race, I realized this was the new “normal”. I realized that due to this virus, it wasn’t just my Happy Place that was being taken away. I had also lost my ability to interact in person with the people who had provided me so much positive energy and excitement. The venues, events, and gyms that gave me a chance to recharge my physical and mental batteries were no longer available. My interactions with these motivators were now being limited to solely through a computer screen.
After the first couple of weeks, I felt the proverbial “walls closing in” feeling. I’ve never been a person that is prone to anxiety, in fact, I can’t really remember it happening before. But this situation made me very anxious. At times I felt stupid for feeling so down. I tried to focus on the positives. I still had a job where I was able to work from home without losing any pay. However, living in a small apartment did limit my training options. I quickly got sick of body weight exercises and ended up doing mostly running and cardio workouts. I tried to keep myself accountable, but I could feel myself slipping and losing my drive.It was at that time that I had a deep gut check with myself. I have been training very hard for a number of years now. I knew I could not let myself fall into bad habits. I had to think about my “Why”. Why did I want to race? Why did I want to be healthy? Why does it make me happy?The more and more I thought about these questions, the more I realized that the answers to them made fitness non-negotiable for me. I wouldn’t allow myself to slip, because this was just another obstacle to conquer. This was the new norm, but it wasn’t permanent, no matter how much some days it felt like it was.Thankfully there were several resources that also helped get me mentally back on track. There were live Zoom Festivals as well as motivational group calls. Also Virtual Races took over for all the canceled races, and while they weren’t the same as in-person races, they still managed to provide some energy to feed off of.Recently the states have relaxed some of the restrictions, and we have been able to have small group gatherings. My first race back was a 6 hour 20 person trail race. It felt like heaven, and despite the heat and humidity, I enjoyed every second of it. I’ve also become involved with the OCR Classes at Blue Mountain, and it has been a lot of fun getting to play on outdoor obstacles. My gym is open as well, so my training options are now back in full force.There is still no end in sight for this virus. There are OCRs planned to happen in August, but who knows if they will be allowed to happen. For now, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, and enjoying some of the local events that are happening. I may not be training for any specific races right now, but I feel much more focused than I was when this pandemic started.