Hell & Back: Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into The Mud

Last Saturday I took part in Hell & Back in County Wicklow. For those who don’t know it, it’s a 7km obstacle course which pushes the body, mind and tolerance for dirt. It involves climbing over walls, jumping into an ice-bath, climbing bales of hay and wading through a swamp of mud. It pretty much resembled most of my childhood of growing up on a farm in Ireland (with a photographer and a lot more people thrown in).


I sat in my house the morning of the event and seriously questioned my sanity. Why was I doing this? Did it make sense to jump through mud to reach out of my comfort zone? Or was going to the gym sufficient enough?

At that stage, it was too late to turn back. Nine of us has committed and we were in it together.

My manager in work is always talking about the ‘why?’ Why do we do the things that we do? What motivates us to take certain actions? Indeed, everything we do is for a reason but what reason matters to us -this is what will lead to our perceived success or not.


My why for doing hell and back was to challenge myself. Whatever I achieve, I always look to push myself to the next step. So much so that I’ll push myself beyond what I need to at several moments in my life. Physically, I don’t exert myself too much generally. I committed to Zumba for two years because I liked the latin music (that was my why). Then when I hurt my back, I joined the pool (getting over my injury was my why) then more recently, I started running (this was so that I could be do Hell & Back without failing). There was a reason for each of them and generally, that’s why will drive me forward.

When I got to the finish line of Hell and Back, I felt two emotions. One of them was that of achievement as I had set myself that goal and ticked it off. Secondly, it was one of relief as I allowed my body to push me beyond its usual routine and it had succeeded. I had faced a fear of sliding into a deep river (which was freezing cold) and did that. Then I had worked with a team of amazing people to get to the finish line – another reason for signing up.

The point of this post isn’t to brag about how great I am for working towards that goal. It’s to highlight that whatever we do, we need to understand why we want to do it and set out accordingly. There were people in my life who straight out said ‘no’ to joining Hell & Back with me. Their ‘why’ for doing it wasn’t strong enough. Then there are those who had a why and couldn’t make it so, it’s on their bucket list for 2019.

There are hundreds of runs, obstacle courses and general challenges taking place around the country this Autumn/Winter and beyond. If they make sense for you then go for it.

Whatever you’re working towards, make you sure you record the reason for why you’re doing it.

Happy adventuring! Here’s to working towards what drives you towards your idea of success.