As an obstacle course racing athlete, I often try to convince other people to join in the fun, whether that be in the competitive wave or the open wave. One of the following excuses often stymies my suggestions though. The only problem is people often do not say what they really mean when they provide an excuse. Let me help you out so when you encounter one of these excuses, you understand what they are really trying to tell you.


Statement: “I am too old for that sh*t”

Typically said by: Anyone 25 or greater

What it means: “I am too lazy for that sh*t”

I have heard this statement from people as 25 years old. I have raced at iron distance triathlons with people in their 70s and stood on the start line of marathons with people in their 80s. The OCR World Championships even has a 50+ division. I am pretty sure you are not too old for this stuff. Maybe one day I will become too old for this stuff, but chances are it is a long way off. Since I am only in my early 30s, I do not have a lot of authority to speak on this subject, but I have talked to many people younger than me who have made this statement before.


Statement: “They electrocute you at the end? That is so stupid, no thanks.”

Typically said by: People who have never done a Tough Mudder

What it means: “They electrocute you at the end? That sounds painful and makes me uneasy. I would rather just sit on my couch.”

Two types of people say this statement, the first is people who have never done a Tough Mudder that are scared of what that would feel like. These people are scared of the unknown, scared to experience a little discomfort and scared by the distance required just to reach Electroshock Therapy. The second is people who have raced OCRs but still think that an electrocution obstacle is stupid. If you have experienced it, then you are justified to your own opinion and I accept your explanation as reasonable. I personally am not crazy about the obstacle, but a little electricity is not going to scare me off from their events.


Statement: “I only run real running races, not OCRs”

Typically said by: Road runners (not the meep-meep kind, but people who run only on roads)

What it means: “I never train my upper body and do not want to show everyone how weak I am.”

Athletes that only train for running typically have weak upper bodies. The thought of requiring themselves to do a set of pull-ups, monkey bars or climb over a wall is scary. They are used to winning or placing high at road races with set conditions.   Add in a little uncertainty and a requirement to use something besides their legs and it is too much for them. Unlike the recreational gym rat who always skips leg day, these guys always skip upper body day.


Statement: “Why would you pay for something like that?”

Typically said by: Non-athletes

What it means: “I am lazy and would rather spend my money on beer because sitting on my couch drinking is easier. Having to work by running 3-26+ miles for a free beer and party atmosphere is too much of a commitment.”

I hear this one all the time, not only relating to the world of OCR but to races in general. Why do I pay for races? The answer could encompass an entire article but here is the short version in list form: the experience, the friends, aid stations providing convenience, testing yourself, achieving a personal record (PR) that is validated by an outside organization, leaving your comfort zone, the swag (shirt, medal, goody bag), bragging rights, etc. The list could go on especially if you are a high level elite with things like money, sponsorships, international ranking, lifetime achievements, book deals, supporting a personal training business, etc. Bottom line is everyone has their own reason or reasons for racing. People who do not race are often looking for an excuse and the $30-$150, depending on the event is too much of a drain for them. The same people will not hesitate to spend the same amount at the bar or for a nice dinner. If money is your excuse, please find a new one.


Statement: “I heard someone <insert ridiculous horror story> at one of those.”

Typically said by: Someone who spends more time on Facebook than at the gym

What it means: “An OCR sounds like it is out of my comfort zone. Here is an isolated incident with the probability of 1 in a million that justifies my lack of effort.”

My response to this one is “Did you hear someone died driving yesterday?” You are more likely to get hurt driving to an OCR event than you are at the actual event. This is another excuse with people grasping for a reason not to sign up. “I heard people got diarrhea from one of the mud pits”, well I got food poisoning from Applebees….but they still seem to be in business and I see people eating there all the time. I have also gotten violently ill from sushi…but I still eat it. In fact, I have been sick from food only when not eating at home, so logic tells me I should never eat at restaurants. The chances of <insert horror story> are slim. Day to day you do hundreds of things just as likely to cause injury or sickness.


Statement: “Isn’t that bad for your knees?” (usually referring to the volume of run training)

Typically said by: Non-runners

What it means: “Putting out effort for a prolonged period with an elevated hear rate is too hard, I’ll just keep doing one armed curls.”

Actually, running is good for your bones and knees. High volume of running strengthens joints, ligaments and bones. Just as repeated stress on muscles causes them to grow, repeated stress on bones causes them to harden. The joints and ligaments also become stronger as long as the stress is applied properly. Problems occur, just like in all exercises, when people do things like use improper form, add volume too fast and push themselves too hard. Just like swimming or weight lifting, having someone look at your running form or reading a couple of books on proper technique is a good idea to prevent injuries. Cross training and strength training also helps prevent injuries.


Statement: “24 hours? That is stupid, what a waste of time!”

Typically said by: Non-World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) participants

What it means: “24 hours sounds too hard for me. I can’t do that because it requires training and I can’t just fake it or use my god given genetics to get by.”

Just because you have not done a WTM does not necessarily mean that this is you. It is specifically referring to those people who do not do WTM and then call everyone else stupid for participating in ultra-distance endurance events. Ultra-distance events require a strong mix of training, mental toughness and not knowing when to give up. For events this long, you cannot just get by and God given genetics. It requires months that are built upon years of hard work. Then on race day it requires a stubbornness and level of mental fortitude that is absent in most people.


People do not always say what they mean. I hope that this guide has helped you translate some of the common excuses. Feel free to let me know if you have any other excuses that need translating and I will help you out.


The opinions in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect those of Mud Run Guide. 

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