A Tougher/Better/Best Sport?


photo 1Recently a conversation online erupted after the question was brought up about comparing the difficulty and “toughness” of CrossFit vs. Ultra Running vs. Farm Chores vs. OCR. It was a lively conversation and today again I found myself talking to one of the trainers at the CrossFit affiliate I train having a very similar conversation.


Admit You Are Crazy

The first thing to acknowledge is people competing in most sports as adults are in one way or another “crazy”. Whether you like it or not if you care about a sport and compete at a competitive level as an adult people will probably call you crazy at one point or another. Whether you are in the gym 6-7 days a week, often twice a day or you hit the roads or trails prior to dawn to get your miles in, the truth is crazy can be translated to committed. Once you go above and beyond just the baseline fitness levels, you can put yourself in the crazy category. If you are actively training for competition, sorry to say you are in the crazy category.

 photo 2

It’s Not Harder It’s Just Different

Every sport has it’s difficulties, even the most mundane seeming. Sinking a 20ft put with a slopping green can be just as hard as overhead squating 2x’s your body weight and just as hard as running around in circles for 24 hours of obstacles. It’s just different not harder. If a competitive CrossFit athlete loses focus for a few seconds it could mean the difference between a win and not making top 15. The ultra runner needs to be able to sustain a level of concentration and constant feedback. The 5K runner needs to watch every step of his pacing. Just as the farmer needs to ensure his axe hits the wood in the right spot, otherwise they might loose a toe. None of these are easier than the other, just different.


photo 3


I constantly find people try to put down one method of fitness or training. Whereas each has it’s ups and downs. I think it’s wrong to tell the ultra runner that they don’t work as hard because they don’t go as fast as a marathoner. Or tell the CrossFit athlete that their training has no carry over into life. Truthfully, if someone is trying to better themselves and their fitness, embrace it. Be thankful they are working on becoming a better version of themselves, don’t hate the method. I find it close minded to say this or that athlete is not working out as intensely as another. Intensity comes in different forms and and we are all wired to react to different type of competition and training.



Finally to set the record straight, farm work is still the original workout. If you want to experience what the original workouts were, just go to a farm and work the fields, feed the animals, chop wood, pull weeds, and harvest the crops. Now that truly is the original workout, or as our grandparents would say, a normal day.




What are your thoughts? Do you think one thing is more difficult than the rest?

Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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2 Responses to A Tougher/Better/Best Sport?

  1. christian says:

    ah. yes.

    this comes up all the time.

    if you think about what’s “tough” or “harder” or “more challenging” I’m not sure that it’s anything we “like” to do. The two just don’t go together.

    Assuming you (proverbial “you”) don’t “like” this in the way that you like, say, running a Spartan Sprint, here’s a challenge:

    Next time it pouring down rain, and freezing cold, stop what you are doing, get into some gear tolerable for the conditions, and carry buckets of water up some hills for two hours straight…

    That’s “tough” and “challenging” cuz it sucks and you don’t want to do it.

    Showing up at marketed mud run, or OCR, or Ultra, or 5K, or whatever, isn’t all that “tough” — you knew what was coming, you knew mostly what to expect, you trained (hopefully) for the event, and mostly, you CHOSE to do as something you ENJOY.

    It happens, but its rare to find someone say, I really hate running, so I’m going to sign up for a 100-miler. Why? because they’d rather slit their throat than do an activity they hate for over 24 hours.

    Wanna be uber-tough? Trump all the disciplines, start choosing to activities you dislike, or suck at, and do them anyway.

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