Many who swimrun for the first time find themselves in an intellectual and emotional conundrum.
– What just happened and why am I smiling?
Been there, done that! But why?
Countless of people have tried to put their finger on those feelings that arise and some have even had it on the tip of their tongue. But we still wait for that someone who will fully capture the beauty, and consequently the essence of swimrunning freely in nature. Now, some might actually be close to explaining this, but from a scientific perspective.
For at least half a century conventional wisdom about maintaining good physical health has rested on pillars such as; diet, exercise and physical and mental wellbeing. But now a re-born paradigm is making its come-back: The environmental stimulation.
Let’s face it. Human beings have been cavemen for some 200,000 years now, developing through all hardship life and environment has thrown at us.
Comfort has never been granted but always balanced between our continuous efforts to survive and the rewarded downtime thereafter. Despite technological advancements we’ve been at the mercy of nature for a long time and the body and mind is accustomed to this. We’ve developed a nervous system that automatically responds to challenges or dangers in our environment, triggering biochemical processes performing a million tasks that give us an edge in that particular moment.
But what about simply resting, doing nothing, not even triggering the fight-or-flight system?
Effortless comfort has made us fat, lazy, and exposed to increased ill-health and numerous diseases. Effortless comfort has made us passive and under stimulated.
Modern humans are the very first species since the jellyfish to be able to almost completely ignore natural obstacles to survive. With no or very few real challenges, and we’re not talking about the stress of choosing a good school for the kids or buying a new car, we’ve become overstuffed, overheated, and overworked. In the scientific community, there’s a growing consensus that humans weren’t built for eternal and effortless comfort, that evolution didn’t shape us this way, which is the reason for why so many of us are seeking new challenges. Human biology actually needs stress, not stress from luxury-decisions, but positive stress from the environment around us (read nature). Hormonal response, autonomous system response, insulin and adrenalin production, heightened mental awareness, are all responses built into our system which needs to be triggered every now and then. And what better way to do this than to skip all this fancy pancy stuff modern technology and plunge yourself into the raw wilderness, fight the elements head-on, with only our body as the means of choice?
Are we talking about racing a pre-fixed course with aid stations and massage tents along the way like in triathlon?
We’re talking about swimrun. We’re talking about using only what is absolutely necessary to survive and to embark on an adventure that will put you up against wind, heat, rain, sun, waves and currents, pushing those long-term developed automated physiological responses to the max. Unlocking a 200.000-year-old DNA cocktail, waking-up the dormant cells and to call on your inner animal strength. Letting your body and mind remember and allow your feelings to absorb every single second of this experience.
This is what swimrun is all about and the beauty of it is that you do it together!
Science is actually not far behind. A changing environment around the body also fundamentally changes the body itself. More importantly, it shows how it’s possible to utilise our external environment to trigger individual autonomic responses in predictable ways. Hence, with some training you can actually manipulate deep parts of your physiology by intentionally tweaking identifiable pre-programmed responses and to let your consciousness take contol over aspects of that automation process.
So, there you have it. Swimrun in the raw nature is the perfect way to start tweaking your body and mind for the better.
Get out there try it. We promise, you will not get disappointed!
/The WoS Team – Swimrunners in heart and soul