Personal Reflections On Overcoming Fear Through Extreme Sports

tough-mudder-virginia-beach-03_0Do you have what it takes to be a tough mudder? When I first read about the idea, I thought it absurd. I just couldn’t see myself pushing mind and muscle through all sorts of challenges. I also didn’t see myself as being tough enough to compete shoulder-to-shoulder with triathletes and military veterans.

Here are at least 3 things I would do if I were to become a mudder:

  1. I would overcome my fears and go in there with a good attitude.
  2. I would research and buy clothes and shoes that would be as mud-resistant as possible. I especially don’t want to have to clean out muddy toenails or wash the mud out of my hair for several days in a row.
  3. I would take my mobile phone with me, just in case I needed to call for help. Since I have an iPhone 7, I would look over the best cases for iPhone 7.

After reading about how Chelsey Allen overcame her fear that she wasn’t “wasn’t intense, hardcore or crazy enough” yet signed up for the Tough Mudder in Whistler, BC anyway, I paused to think about it.

For starters, she had type 1 diabetes and had some legit fears of a blood sugar crash and being rescued by a medic team. She also had some concerns about not being able to get the mud out of her hair and toenails. However, what held her back more than anything else was that she had a fear of the unknown.

Although she confessed that she “didn’t feel braced for the pressure of barbed wire and an ‘arctic enema’ ice plunge,” she did it anyway. Despite her apprehensions, she described her experience as a total blast. “We may have taken nearly 7 hours to complete a 17.6 km course … and as a team we rocked it.”

After reading her description, I realized that she had achieved a personal breakthrough that had changed her life. It’s not about the sport; it’s about accelerated personal growth! This happens when you push past your comfort zone.

When I Pushed Past My Comfort Zone

It wasn’t that long ago that my biggest fear was jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft.

I looked into skydiving and found that it was more expensive than I could afford. I did, however, find something that was equally terrifying to me—indoor sky diving. Instead of jumping down from a plane, you get blown upward by a wind tunnel. I watched videos of people doing it, from regular folks to outliers like kids and grandparents and my stomach flipped upside down.

I went to IFly, my stomach knotting up on the drive there. I felt that I was about to jump off a cliff to a certain death.

Inside the facility, I signed a disclaimer and then went upstairs to the wind-tunnel. Since this was my first time, I could only qualify to sign up for 2 minutes.

It was a large octagonal shaped room in the middle of the floor. A metal grill separated the jets in the wind-tunnel from the dome of the tunnel, which seemed to be a few stories high.

Flight Training

An instructor came over and herded those who had signed up for the session into a small briefing room. There we watched a video on what to expect and were taught how to use hand signals to go up, stay balanced, relax, etc. The instructor then discussed hand signals, gauged our level of trepidation, and reassured us. While a few people in our group had done it before, most were first timers like me.

Gearing Up

After our training, we chose our jumpsuits. We also had to use earplugs, goggles, and helmets. I chose a blue suit and felt like Tom Cruise in Top Gun as I zipped up.

We then went into the chamber. It consisted of an outer chamber with a bench and an inner chamber which was the wind-tunnel itself.

As we sat on the bench, we watched our instructor do some amazing acrobatics in the air, like air walking, doing flips, and twirls. Although this stuff was way beyond our skill levels, the purpose of the demonstration was to show us what was possible when you got really good at it.

Much to my dismay, I discovered that I had naively positioned myself to go first. Since I had walked into the outer chamber first, it placed me at the front of the line.


The first time I went into the wind tunnel, I was startled by the sound of roaring wind. My instructor was with me and he walked me through a few basic maneuvers. Initially, I sank to the grill floor until he showed me how to arch my legs and back and raise my arms. This U-shaped pattern allowed me to lift up and he held my arm and guided me around in a circle. I was so disoriented, I had a difficult time understanding his hand gestures—despite the fact that I had memorized them before. I was glad it was only two minutes.

The second time, I learned how to float and when I was ready the instructor grabbed my arm and leg and together we swooped all the way up the tunnel and all the way down. We did this several times. It was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.

It was a day I’ll never forget, I pushed past my comfort zone and expanded my sense of possibilities. This is what extreme sports do: they push you beyond what you thought was possible for you.

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