Military Obstacle Course-More than just a physical challenge……


If you’ve ever been through an obstacle course as a child, or as an adult or a ‘Tough Mudder ‘ type event you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I have a love/hate relationship with obstacle courses. After serving 27 years in the Royal Marine Commandos I still hate the feeling of pain and discomfort often involved but I always get that enormous buzz of overcoming. As well as fun I hate the feeling of inadequacy as I try to haul myself over a 6ft wall that is much harder than I could have imagined but the buzz when you get over it is so satisfying.
The success and popularity of the civilian ‘Obstacle Course races have risen in the UK. It’s the adrenaline standing at the start line feeling daunted and a little bit sick about what the individual is about to put them self through, but standing at the finish or talking about it the next day with pride that they survived it is why they compete. In contrast to this then are we saying as human beings:

The more our life is smooth, not disrupted avoiding all obstacles, the less satisfied we feel about life especially in the long term.


Am I saying then that a problem, complication, hinderance or stumbling block are totally necessary and potentially a fantastic part of daily life. In the military the battlefield is unpredictable, everyday life is erratic and can be certainly volatile the “Obstacle Course” is used not only as a physical tool but also a mental tool, a process to learn to overcome problems.

I read recently an article about the old skool entertainment TV programme called ‘The Krypton Factor’. This was one of my favourite shows as a child, why? The unexpected (unlike James Bond or Six Million Dollar Man). The contestants would compete in various challenges of the mind and memory, but the show would always finish with a physical test-the “Obstacle Course”. No matter how efficient the contestants had been at the mind tests it was how they performed in the physical tests that always stood out for me. It was disheartening, miserable to watch someone wallowing on an obstacle, totally out of depth, lost for resolutions and throwing away all their previous success on the previous rounds.

I am not saying life should be totally unpredictable or never been able to enjoy comfort of uniformity. Its about choosing small windows in our life’s weekly routine, fitness training or in our relationships to knowingly put ourselves out of our comfort zone to see if we can sharpen what we have.

360º Wellbeing “To overcome obstacles in your daily life”:

1. Don’t be afraid of discomfort (training/holidays/relationship/work).
2. The obstacles don’t necessarily always have to change, they just need to remain demanding.
3. Small obstacles are required to build mental strength for bigger obstacles.
4. Obstacle courses sometimes require us to be resourceful, original, and imaginative these are all skills used in daily living. So these are words used in my training to keep me motivated, this could be as simple as training location, training system or varying my weights.

To summarise add obstacles into your training or your life to keep you motivated and build on your mental strength.