Digging a Well in the Pain Cave

For most of the year, I do my best to train intelligently. I engage in rich and varied movement patterns, combining Parkour, calisthenics and some resistance training, while building in sufficient rest periods to allow for a full recovery to avoid injury. But just occasionally I throw all that programming out of the window and do something foolish and ill-advised!

This might be an endurance yomp with heavy kit over rugged terrain or a through-the-night run in the city and its suburbs with a kilometre of bear-crawls to welcome the dawn. I don’t do these things for physical conditioning benefits because they are nearly always catabolic; I do them because sometimes it does us good to train the spirit rather than the body. When you have given all you think you’ve got and you have to dig deeper still to complete the mission you’ve undertaken, you can experience an expansion of your self-concept. Your frame of reference is redefined and you realise once again that you are capable of so much more. You have to dig deep in your pain cave to find these reserves, but they lie there in wait for anyone with the will and fortitude to uncover them.

At the end of this month (26 August 2017) I’ll be stepping back into the pain cave. This time I’ve decided to see how many burpees I can complete in a six-hour period, from 10 AM until 4 PM. I’ll be doing this at Parkour Generations' Chainstore training facility in East India, central London. If you are in the neighbourhood, feel free to drop in and join me!

The burpee is named after its inventor, Royal H. Burpee, who developed the movement in 1940 as a means of measuring US military fitness. I’ll be performing a variant called the 'chest to ground' burpee. Why not try it now? From standing, squat down and then move into a press-up position, drop your chest to the ground before popping back to your feet and then jump in the air to complete the rep. Easy, right? Now do 100 with good form, resting as often as needed. You will soon come to the same conclusion that all who are intimately familiar with this exercise do - burpees suck!

They test every muscle in your body and gas you fast. The burpee is a great all-round conditioning exercise and there’s something elegant and monstrous about doing large numbers of them - it quickly becomes as much about mental resilience as it is about physical conditioning. How many do I plan on performing in those six hours? Well I am aiming to exceed the magic number of 1000 reps but time will tell.

So why am I telling you all about this? Whenever I do something like this, I try to use it as an opportunity to do some good in the world by getting sponsorship for a worthy cause. This time I’ll be raising money for Water4.org - a charity performing wonders in the developing world by empowering locals to dig and maintain water wells and implement life-saving sanitation programs.

My big goal is to raise sufficient funds to provide a new well in a community where families are dying due to a lack of safe water, something so many of us take for granted. The average well cost is between $1500 and $2500, depending on the location. I have created a campaign on the Water4.org site and I have made the first donation of $30 to get the ball rolling. What I am asking from you is one of two things:

1) If you can afford to do so, please pledge any sum of money you can to help me meet or crush my initial target of $1500. No donation is too small. You can do that here.

2) Share this post on social media and among your contacts so that we can leverage the power of the global community. Not many of us have fast swathes of spare cash kicking around, but if a lot of us give just a little, we can still get this done.

I’ll be stepping into the pain cave alone on 26 August, but I will be doing so in the hope that all of you will help me dig a well whilst I’m in there.

Andy Fisher