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Getting out of your comfort zone can help make you a Tough Mudder

Members of the Verus Fitness Tough Mudder team with coach Calvin Richard (seated, front) get ready for the obstacle course last year. This year's event is May 2 at Reveille Peak Ranch, 105 CR 114 in Burnet. For more on the event and the upcoming Spartan races, go to Courtesy photo


MARBLE FALLS — Shannon Jamison isn’t afraid to admit where she’s come from, and she likes the idea of where she’s going.

“I’m going to my 25th (high school) reunion this year. I go to it every time we have one, but I’m really looking forward to this year,” Jamison said after completing a 12-minute challenge round set up by Calvin Richard. “You know the last time I went — five years ago — I was a ‘Fatty Patty.’”

She stops for a moment and smiles. She’s not making fun of anybody, just admitting that at 38, she wasn’t exactly her high school self. But things have changed in the past five years, especially the past 12 months.

“This year, when I go to my class reunion, I’ll be down 52 pounds and 24 inches less,” Jamison said. “Oh my gosh, I’m so looking forward to it.”

And she’ll also be able to claim herself as a Tough Mudder competitor after she and several other of Richard’s clients at Verus Strength & Fitness and other community members compete in the obstacle course race May 2 outside of Smithville. The following two weeks, the Spartan Race returns to Burnet’s Reveille Peak Ranch, where even more residents will test their mettle.

“It’s really about getting them outside their comfort zone,” Richard said. “We all get comfortable, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. So here and at (Tough Mudders and Spartans), the idea is to get outside that comfort zone and see just what you can do.”

Maribel Munoz, a wife and mother, began training with Richard about a year ago. Her goal was to get in better shape so she could keep up with her very active 8-year-old son. Like Jamison, she’ll be taking on her first Tough Mudder on Saturday.

“It wasn’t something I thought about doing,” she said. “Coach Calvin came up to me one day and said, ‘I think you should try this.’”

The thought of tackling a 10- or 12-mile course dotted with multiple obstacles and mud really didn’t appeal to Munoz.

She had plenty of “excuses” not to do it.

“But every time I came up with an excuse, Coach Calvin came up with a reason to do it,” she said. “I eventually ran out of excuses.”

Richard hears the excuses quite a bit from people about why they shouldn’t do something or try something. It all comes back to that comfort zone.

“People really don’t know what they’re capable of unless they push themselves,” he said.

Munoz added that, for herself, it took having Richard and some of her fellow trainees do a little pushing to keep her moving outside her own comfort zone, whether it was tackling the Tough Mudder or trying for one more pushup during a workout.

Jamison’s change began several years ago when she laced up her running shoes and started jogging. Soon she began entering 5K and 10K races.

“That was something I could do,” she admitted. “But running will only take you so far, so I needed something like this here to go a bit farther.”

While the training is good on its own, both Munoz and Jamison admitted having an event such as the Tough Mudder looming in the distance, on a specific date, forced them to push themselves a bit harder.

“I know I’m not going to win, but I don’t want to be last either,” Munoz said with a grin.

Richard, who will mark his fourth Tough Mudder on May 2, explained he considers it a team effort for all his clients who are participating.

“We run it together, and we help each other along the way,” he said. “And we’ll help other people who need a hand as well.”

Richard also practices what he preaches. While this marks his fourth Tough Mudder, he has yet to tackle a Spartan. The two obstacle courses, while similar in some aspects, also differ. The Tough Mudder doesn’t time athletes or necessarily rank them, so groups can run it together.

The Spartan mindset is different. It’s a competition.

Richard tackles his first Spartan the week after completing the Tough Mudder.

“I know the Spartan is going to be different and challenging in its own way, but that’s why we do this,” he said. “These workouts we do, yeah, they get people in shape, but it’s more than that. I’m getting them prepared for life. If they can come in and push themselves through these workouts, then when something goes wrong in life for them — and it will — they’ll be able to handle it.”

That’s also the idea behind encouraging his clients and others to participate in a Tough Mudder.

“Those obstacles (on the course), well, you just get through them, and when you do, you grow a bit stronger and realize you can do it,” he said. “It’s a lot about confidence.”

And you can bet Jamison will be feeling a lot more confident when she walks into her 25th high school reunion as a Tough Mudder competitor and a little less of herself from five years ago.

“I can’t wait,” she said.