by Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
Recently, there was a Russian man who completed an ultra-marathon by running around his bed for more than 10 hours.
To my surprise, his name was not Brent Neevel.
The owner of Sheboygan Fit Body Boot Camp, however, recently crawled for an entire hour around the outdoor track at South.
“My goal was just to see how far I could get in that hour,” the Waupun graduate said. “We’re dealing with so much that is outside of the ordinary. I would argue that pretty much everyone one of us has had our routine thrown off in some way.
“And when we’re dealing with so much uncertainty, it’s easy to fall back into our shell, just kind of let the world come at us rather than attacking and seeing what it is, what ideas we can come up with. What can we learn about ourselves during this time?”
No thanks, I already know enough about myself.
Kidding aside, crawling is a serious form of exercise.
When Neevel was getting into the fitness industry, someone introduced crawling to him and he tried it.
“I remember the first time I did it, I think I made it like 20 seconds,” Neevel said. “I thought, ‘this is crazy.’”
But within a couple of months, Neevel increased his time from 2 to 10 minutes of crawling. That turned into crawls of 30 and 40 minutes.
Neevel even got so bold to joke with a client about seeing how far he could crawl in an hour, but nothing came of it.
Several weeks later, the Coronavirus hit and Neevel basically made a promise to himself this was the best time to find out.
“One of the surest ways to build self esteem and faith in yourself is to keep the promises you make to yourself,” he said.
Before the Governor’s stay-at-home orders were overturned, Neevel assumed nobody would be at South’s track. So on a nice Sunday, he gave it a shot.
For those wondering how crawling around a track is even possible, Neevel says you start with your hands underneath your shoulders. Your knees are underneath your hips, and then you pick up one hand and the opposite foot to move forward.
“I’m sure it was quite the scene for the people jogging or walking around the exterior part of the track,” Neevel said. “They went around me because they were moving a lot faster – even if they were walking – than I was.
“There was one gentleman that was there for most of the second half, and he was still there when I got done. I was kind of sitting in the middle of the football field and he’s like, ‘how far did you go?’ I said, ‘well, I was just going for an hour.’ He’s like, ‘it looked like you were climbing a mountain out there.’”
Neevel was only 1 minute into his journey when the headphones he was listening to lost sync with his phone that he left at the starting point.
His plan for distraction was now gone.
“It’s inevitable discomfort pretty quick,” Neevel said. “Your quads aren’t real happy with you and your wrists and forearms aren’t pleased with what you’re doing. But I’ve learned from past experiences you have to work through that. Then I’m like, ‘well, all right, it’s just me and my inner dialogue now for the next lap at least.”
When Neevel completed one lap to end up where he left his phone, he was able to balance on one arm – knees cannot touch the ground – and grab his phone to restart the podcast he was listening to.
“That was helpful because it gives you something to distract your mind from, that dialogue of ‘well, you can just stop now. No one’s going to know. You don’t have to tell anybody,’” Neevel said. “And I purposely did tell people I was going to do (this crawl) because it’s another form of accountability, like now I’ll look like a hypocrite if I tell people to challenge and push themselves and I say I’m going to do something, but I don’t do it.”
However, when Neevel looked at his phone to see how much time had gone by, he thought he was almost 40 minutes into his quest – when it actually was about 20 minutes.
“I thought I was well over half way, have half a lap to do and I’d be done,” Neevel said. “But I was only a third of the way. That was a big gut punch.”
He finished his second lap but still had 15 minutes to go.
Neevel strongly considered quitting at that point and he would still have his new record-best time.
He decided to fight the pushback from his brain.
Intervals of switching between wrists and fists started to shorten dramatically, which meant more downward dogs to get a momentary break on his shoulders and legs.
Neevel’s next goal was another half lap. He checked the clock and had 4:42 remaining.
“One one hand, that’s very short in the context of an hour, but a lifetime when you’re body is fried,” Neevel said.
He told himself to not think about the time remaining and to just keep going.
Neevel says his competitive drive kick in for the last minute and he finished the hour just short of 2½ laps, which comes out to about six-tenths of a mile.
Neevel collapsed to his backside, took a swig of water, sat and stretch on the grass for a bit … and then ran a mile 20 minutes later.
Is this when people ask him if he’s nuts?
“I think if anybody saw me, they probably already thought that,” Neevel said.
He didn’t even reward himself with a steak dinner or anything special that evening.
“It was a good Sunday, physically and mentally challenging,” Neevel said.
Up next if making it a full mile, but Neevel admits it is terrifying to think about.
“It’s one of those things when you don’t know, there’s a level of intrigue and a level of keep going and see what I can do,” Neevel said. “Because now I know it took me an hour to do six-tenths of a mile, if I’m estimating that out, assuming I’m probably going to slow down a little bit as I go, we’re looking at closer to almost 2 hours.
“That’s mind-blowing, at this point. I definitely have got to get faster if I want to tackle that mile. I’m sure it’s possible. … We’ll see where it goes.”
Neevel encourages people to look at their fitness, career, relationship goals and try to find areas to challenge oneself.
“I think we all shortchange ourselves and our potential is so much more than what we really tend to exhibit on a day-to-day basis,” he said.