Form Follows Function
Being a in the field of parks and recreation I have heard my fair share of professors define and redefine the meaning of leisure and recreation. The meaning, my personal interpretation, was stumbled upon in my quest to have fun and stay as active as I possibly can for as long as I can. I have always been a runner but maintaining the drive to log miles can be difficult especially when trying to jam eighteen credit hours and an internship in the mix. This is where the whole leisure concept comes in. There was nothing forcing me to run, I was free to do it for my enjoyment (which is an indicator of leisure) but it really didn’t feel leisure-like and the little boost of happy dancing endorphins afterwards just wasn’t cutting it.
So what happened? An abstract idea that became popular a few years back. People were actually paying to run, jump over things and get covered in mud. My first mud run was a 5k (just over 3 miles) called the Warrior Dash, the thrill of competition made it easy to push my limits and cut my pace time down as much as possible but still, it was expensive and I soon lost interest. A few years later, my little (by little I mean younger) brother finished up his military service and ended up right down the street. The final push I needed was here, sibling rivalry. There is something to be said for having people to compete with but as any good non only child knows, there is nothing more satisfying than kicking your siblings butt and taking full advantage of those well-deserved bragging rights.
All joking aside though, mud runs keep me on my feet. My brother and I are in the beginning of our first full mud run season. We kicked it off with a 5k+ Gladiator Rock ‘n’ Roll Run. It gets a plus because of the intense trail run they threw in at Estrella Mountain Park. They had some fun obstacles, including a 14 foot rope climb which I enjoyed. Of course I kicked my brother’s butt and my six year old, cheerleading niece, who is still learning the rules of runner encouragement, kept reminding him I’d already passed. The best part was taking advantage of sagging sidelines, I ran back and did the last three obstacles with him again (shh). Our last one was the Rugged Maniac which lived up to its name after three full days of rain, thick mud and a chilly fifty degrees. We had a blast on the two story slide at the end and Daniel was able to close the gap without the prolonged incline runs of the last one. We shivered our way through a well-deserved free beer and headed straight for the Jeep for a warm change of clothes and the nearest establishment serving warm coffee. So far we have a Spartan race scheduled for February, Terrain Mud Run in March and Warrior Dash in April but still can’t bring ourselves to sign up for the twelve mile Tough Mudder. Did you know they shock people on that one?!
Mud runs have become a somewhat serious source of recreation for me. The anticipation of upcoming races keeps me honest with racking up miles during the week. My brother crossfits but keep in mind he hasn’t won a race yet. The majority of the time is spent running and so I do that the most with the occasional WOD (Workout of the Day) throughout the week to keep things fresh. So I guess my leisure activities haven’t really changed much. I still prefer having a good time playing in the mud with my (not so) little brother. Just goes to show, form always follows function.