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I considered a yoga break on an island in the sun, thought about pottery and contemplated another scuba diving holiday. My family knew I needed to have at least a week on my own and accepted that I would make a well informed, thoughtful and sensible decision. So if that's the case how did I end up in a field at 6 in the morning rolling about in cow poo?
Yes you guessed it; I decided to go on a boot camp. A military boot camp no less to be trained in Cornwall by two ex-marines with a group of women who clearly were also demented in some way.
Don't get me wrong I had researched this, I had read the testimonials I had spoken to the company a number of times and they were incredibly honest about what the week would entail so why did the words not translate in my head into the pain I would feel in my body?
On day one having driven to our lovely farm accommodation by the coast we were all quite shy, our polite conversations about why we were there were terminated as we went outside for a fitness test which included lots of running non-stop (not so good, I like the little walking bits in-between the running bits). I had decided not to push myself in the test as I did not want the trainers to assume incorrectly that I showed any promise whatsoever which could lead to them putting me in the advanced or even middle groupings. I know my place and exactly where I wanted to be, right at the back surviving!
When they asked us to get in two teams to push a 12 seater minibus up-a-hill, I laughed out loud. Such cards these boys! The silence that followed confirmed my worst fears they really meant it. Cue end of pushing event two women being sick in the hedges and I'm wondering what on earth I have done?
Day two and on the hour we undertook a new and punishing activity; either battle training pushing barrels full of water or logs up hills, carrying 10 kilo power packs on our backs and running in the field or boxercise. All of these carried out at a frenetic pace. The result is up to 9 hours of hard exercise a day! The first night as I lay awake contemplating getting in my car and going home till I remembered they had my car keys ( for my safety) I decided that I needed a strategy to survive the full 7 days. And so the Zen boot camp programme was put into place. My little strategy had a few key principles.
Don't complain; I paid to go on this and the more I complained the weaker I would feel. No negative language but lots of cussing was allowed.
Frame the week in a more positive way when people began to sob and say there are still 6 ******!!! days left I would think there are two less than we started with and in 6 days I'll be home.
Break each section down into manageable chunks, each hour was broken down in my head into 15 minute slots and that's all I thought about getting through at a time.
Make the solution scalable, when faced with a 7 hour hike up huge hills I used the strategy again sharing it with the girls at the back who had formed into a community of likeminded survivalists supporting each other all the way. We refused to look up at the biggest hills just the 10 feet in front of us and instituted the 20 step programme which was as it says on the tin take 20 steps breathe like a maniac and take 20 more, repeat, repeat repeat.
These tactics allowed us to get though days when one person went home another got taken to hospital and 9 of the overall group experienced injuries.
So come the last day when the girls and I were struggling to finish the last few miles of the 7 hour hike from hell, where did the little bubble of pleasure come from?. The little bubble that grew and grew as each hour passed and each hill was vanquished. It grew till we saw the road signs to the farm and grasped the fact that we had done it. In our little underachieving group we had actually done it, not only survived but managed the week with a little grace good humour and a lot of potty mouth talk. I learnt a lot at boot camp,
The fastest and fittest don't always go the distance.
That working with a team that collaborates makes the hills less steep.
That we all excel at something unexpected ( I am great at high wire walking; where the hell did that come from?).
The pleasure of achievement is only real if the journey has been really tough and results fought for. Cow poo washes off, but the pride I have in what we did will never leave me.
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