Total Warrior: Clare Smith’s endurance battle week 3

Clare Smith attacks her Total Warrior training. Picture: Scott Taylor
Clare Smith attacks her Total Warrior training. Picture: Scott Taylor
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Clare Smith is venturing where other 40-somethings fear to head – the Total Warrior endurance race in North Berwick where the obstacles include fire, ice and mud. Could you accept the challenge?

If nothing else, all this Warrior stuff has reaffirmed my faith that people are lovely.

The response to the article we did in the News a couple of weeks ago was amazing. Messages of encouragement and support from people I’ve never met, business contacts and close friends. It’s been overwhelming.

And I’ve had some invites too.

Turns out that there is group called Edinburgh Triathletes who train all over Edinburgh/Midlothian. They go swimming in the outdoor waterways of the region. And – lucky lucky me – they’ve asked me along.

Now I can swim, but my most recent outdoor dooking has happened in the 30-degree heat of Greek islands. In a pool.

But I was brought up to be polite, to accept invitations and to try new things. So in true Warrior spirit, I’m in.

Equally, my colleagues have been offering to do some training with me. I work for the Scottish Government and we place a lot of emphasis on the health and wellbeing of our staff, encouraging cycling to work and jogs at lunchtime.

Until now, I’ve talked a good game, happy for others to head off at lunchtimes for workouts or walks . . . whilst bolting a sandwich at my desk between meetings. However, in this brave new world I’m going to walk the walk and a group of us are going to join Kieron from Race Fitness for a lunchtime session next week.

Should make for an interesting afternoon as we’re all either hyper after an hour’s workout or collapsed exhausted under our desks.

I walked into a meeting at Forth One this week. Instead of the usual pastries and coffee there was a fantastic spread of fruit, popcorn and water – they think my body should be a temple even though I’ve not got to thinking about dietary changes quite yet.

But, again, thoughtful, supportive and encouragement from unexpected sources. Piling on the pressure? Or making me all the more determined . . .

Other friends have been considering accepting the Total Warrior challenge too. Friend Jude has offered to do some training with me but is conveniently on holiday on September 12/13. An old friend Dave has signed up so “Team ClareBear” (working title) is taking form.

Training so far has been a bit light. I had a wee operation a couple of weeks ago (hopefully final episode of the breast cancer soap opera) so I’ve had to take it easy.

However we (Kieron and I) did manage a run through Dalkeith Country Park.

Kieron is all about training outdoors and off road. So my lovely bright crimson trainers got their first taste of mud.

Did you know that you can be taught to run more efficiently? Well I didn’t. But with ‘on your toes’ and ‘use your arms’ my uphill struggles have become a lot less burn-y and certainly less pant-y.

We used trees to do chest presses against and stretched and planked in the shadow of Dalkeith Palace. And we blethered most of the time which made the time pass quickly. It was a warm night – the River Esk looked inviting for the first time ever!

Maybe the outdoor swim club thing might not be too traumatic after all.

Everyone’s a winner

I was hearing from event organiser David Gaffney a tale of two girls who were the last runners out on the course. At the end of each day, once the last runners are through, the marshals at each obstacle pack up and continue round the course, sweeping the route to ensure everyone gets back to the finish safely. So, these two girls, who it has to be said were making pretty slow progress, gathered a bigger and bigger “support team” of marshals and volunteers as they made their way round the course, all of whom were encouraging them and helping them as they went. When they got to the final obstacle (the monkey bars – Hang Tough) in the event village, a huge crowd had gathered and everyone was cheering them and encouraging them to get across. They didn’t quite manage, but they both came out of the pool smiling and made it across the finish line where they celebrated like they’d won the race. The moral of the story is that, for once in my life, it’s not about winning. This truly is the taking part that counts.

• Clare Smith’s endurance battle: Week 1