The Swedest Thing: Training Abroad

How getting out of town got me out of my head

Everybody needs a bit of downtime once in a while. Unfortunately a lot of my internal stress comes from not having the chance to do any exercise, consistently underperforming at races and not seeing a great improvement in my fitness. The obvious answer was therefore to combine an adventure abroad with some training. That’s where Toughest LAB came in.

I’m not going to talk about the Lab in that much detail here. That’s for the review on OCR Europe, but trust me when I say that if you want to improve your technical ability in a very conducive and supportive atmosphere, it is absolutely worth a visit. It’s in Malmö, but I’d suggest staying in Copenhagen and taking the train over, as Copenhagen is a little more exciting than the town of Malmö itself.

I even prepared a little Vlog to tour you around the Lab if you’re interested.

That said, let’s get back to the overriding theme here. Sometimes to give yourself perspective, you have to run away. I’ve basically been bashing my head against a mirror, scrutinising myself in too much detail, worrying about things that I have little control over and fretting over the fact that I’m too exhausted after work to do much other than lean up against my shower wall and wonder why I’ve not evolved into Jessica Ennis yet. Usually when I end up in that state I need to do a run away, but because I have a grown up job and ‘sponsibilities, I can’t retreat into my shell like I used to. So I have to wait for a weekend where I’m not working, and use it to kill three birds with one stone: get some exercise, see some friends, see new places.

Go to Toughest LAB, with my friends Mat and Christie, in Sweden. Sorted.

As I’ve already written about it for OCR Europe, here’s a little video of the LAB:

I did not conquer everything that I would have liked to do in the LAB, but I did spend a lot of time confidence building on the sternum checker and other ‘jump off’ obstacles like the trampoline-cargo net. The customisable nature of the obstacles there meant that I could build up skills at my own pace, until I was running at the tramp for one bounce and launching up into the net, or until I was really throwing myself over the sternum checker as opposed to at it. I learned the flying monkey bar technique, but I still have a lot of fear associated with it, and thus cannot commit to it, so I definitely need a more intensive session on it. I couldn’t make the top of the ramp. But it doesn’t mean I went home feeling like a failure; quite the opposite, I felt renewed motivation to train harder, smarter and more often.

An opportunity to do just that came the very next day, where I made my first trip to a Crossfit Box, where exercises were borne of animal movements – definitely something you only do when you forgot to pack your dignity in your carry on luggage.

The wonderful thing about ‘new’ races bringing innovation to the UK, is that it pushes us to train differently. I may well have been able to do a lot of exercise at a local obstacle gym, but getting away solely for the purpose of training made it that bit more exciting, and myself that little bit more determined to make the trip worth it.

Plus, one can never pass up the opportunity to go to an authentic Swedish sauna and frolic naked in the sea with your friends. Just, FYI.



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