Personal Development, Physical Health

5 Reasons You Should Run A Spartan Race

If you’ve never heard of a Spartan Race stop reading (but make sure you come back) and go watch this quick two minute video. It will give so much more context around the rest of this post. If you don’t want to watch the video here is my personal breakdown: A Spartan Race is like a normal 5K race, except it hopes to destroy you in the process of running. It was created most likely by the devil himself as a sadistic way to have people pay money for pain and suffering.

At the start of February, I participated in my first Spartan Race which also happened to be my first ever official 5K. You can seem me basking in the glory of a finish below (the real trophy is my amazing Wife Stephanie):

Post Race

Lots of people have run 5K’s but I never have in an official race format. It was on my 2018 “to-do” list, but with moving my family to a new country, and opening a new office for the company I work for, that goal got lost in the mix of life and put on the shelf. But, once 2019 rolled around it was time to knock it out of the way sooner than later and this seemed like a good way to do it.

Before we go further, let me get vulnerable for just a minute. Part of the reason I’ve never run a 5K is because I was scared. Sounds silly even writing it, but it’s the truth. I have a strong fear of failure and I let my mind tell me that I would fail. I would not run fast enough, I would be in last place (I hate losing), I simply could not run a 5K without stopping or slowing down. However, in the past 6 months, physical fitness and mental pushthrough has been a major focus for my life; it was time to put petty fears aside and step up to the challenge. To be bigger than fear and just do.

For the Record, here are my stats for this first race. They’ll provide context for some of the points below:

Time: 58:51

Challenges Completed: 21 / 23

Overall Place: 461 / 2699

Male Racers: 376/1586

Male age bracket 30-34: 71/339

Now that you have all the details, let’s dive into what was learned:

+5 Points Confidence:

Do you remember playing video games and getting a bonus in points or health because you completed a challenge successfully? A spartan race is essentially a giant power up. The moment I crossed the finish line I wanted to run it again. It was so unbelievably satisfying and if I’m totally honest, the feeling of championship was unbelievable. There were 23 total obstacles and I successfully completed 21 of them, including a 17ft rope climb that many others were totally failing or skipping all together (fun fact: fail a challenge in a Spartan race and you owe the Gods 30 Burpees)

The confidence boost came from not only completing the course within my goal time of one hour, but also in facing a fear of failure and straight up kicking it in the teeth.

In facing fear, I achieved success. Success lead to a desire for more challenges to attack. Not only do I fully plan on taking on a Spartan race again, but I’m planning on doing a much longer and harder race later in the year. During the beginning of 2018, running a 5K was a challenge. It felt hard and even though I could do it, there was always the sense that I would not go much farther in distance no matter how many times I ran.

As a first born, I have to fight my fear of failure and often pessimistic take on things. Well, this helped me push my limits and actually feel that I could smash them. So, now it’s time to push harder. To train more. The results of training and completing the Spartan race prove that with a “can do” mindset, 23 obstacles, and a 5K race course, are simply a mindset. A mindset can either lead to frustration for a mind that is willing to feel overwhelmed, or victory for a mind desiring satisfaction through accomplishment.

Life is Better with Friends:

post race

This is a picture of my friend Spencer and we after successfull completed the race.

In mid-2018 Spencer and I embarked on a crazy adventure together to move 9000 miles from our homes in Chicago, USA and open a new office for the company we both work for in Sydney, Australia. Spencer and I have both been training in our own ways since moving to Australia, and it felt right to do the Spartan race together. In the future, I’ll probably run some of these races on my own, but the first one I would highly recommend doing with a friend. Here is why it mattered to me for this first race:

a. Spencer Made me Run Faster: Early on in the race I was wanting to pace myself and here goes freaking Spencer saying “We can go faster than this,” and then just kept far enough ahead of me to make me keep up with him. I hit my goal time because in the running element of the course, he encouraged me to push and not settle for a comfortable effort.

b. My Weaknesses is Your Strength: Because Spencer and I ran together, there were clear challenges that he was better at that I and visca versa. E.g. Spencer runs like a freak and I climb like a billy goat. As already mentioned, Spencer helped me overcome a defeatist mindset of not wanting to push myself with the pace. The willingness to settle for a pace that I knew was second place (aka the first loser) was right there, and it wanted to take control. But running with Spencer by my side forced me to push myself into success of a faster pace.

On the flip side (he said it was cool to tell this story), there was a challenge that was an inverted climbing wall. I climbed over pretty quickly. As Spencer rounded the top he slipped a bit, and I was able to grab him to help pull him over. He would have completed the challenge on his own, but as they say: “Teamwork makes the dream work”. Because we ran together, we were able to help each other overcome individual weaknesses, together.

c. Encouragement Matters: Even with the 5K version of a Spartan race, there is good chance that during your first race, there is going to be a moment where you want to punch yourself in the face for signing up for such a stupid painful endeavor. However, having someone telling you to dig deeper, push harder, and finish, is the best. You’re experiencing the challenge along with someone who is feeling the same things you are, and wants this as bad as you do. They won’t let you settle for second rate or sub-par effort. Instead, they encourage, and empower you become the best version of you! Although our families were at the race, they were not in the heat of every moment. But Spencer was there when I needed him to help me finish strong.

Bigger and Better Goals for Training:

The 5K race is in the bag. A goal accomplished that, although incredibly satisfying, left me longing for more. I’ve been training pretty consistently (4-6 times per week) for the past 6 months, and although I knew I should establish real goals, they felt far away. This race helped me put some things in perspective and set new training goals as I continue the task of physical improvement.
a. Complete a 5K Spartan in Under 45 Minutes: In the race I ran, I placed 461 with a time of 58 minutes. The difference between positions 100 and 461 was 8 minutes. Racers with a sub 45 minute pace ranked in the top 100 racers of the day.

b. Top 100 finish: Dropping the time should, in theory, push me towards the top finishers. I want that to be a top 100 finisher for the 5K Spartan race. This is a tough one to go after because the races are getting more and more popular and the athletes are only going to get stronger. I say: Bring it!

c. Complete the 12K Spartan Race: The 5K race was a blast, but now I know I can push myself harder. More obstacles, more distance, and more pain. Sounds like fun!

One quick rabbit trail around goal setting. I actually have more than the three listed above. However, I’ve found with physical training (I workout 4-6 times a week right now) and with most other things in life, when I put to many goals in place, often they become diluted with time. It feels like there are 10,000,000 things pulling for my attention at all times. Even with good intentions, it is easy to spread your focus too thin, and pretty soon you have no focus, and no accomplished goals. Keep goal setting both doable and focused. Trying to do 10 things with excellence sucks, and then you feel terible when you fail. Set a couple of attainable goals that compliment each other, crush them. Move on to bigger and better. Leave me a comment if you would like a full post on setting goals.

You can already do more than you think:

A Spartan Race combines a mix of challenges that focus on climbing, grip strength, and cardiovascular endurance. I felt 100% confident in the climbing challenges, 90% in cardiovascular endurance and 50% in grip strength. Well, some of the grip strength I felt okay with, but the monkey bars were a bit daunting. One: I’ve not really done monkey bars since I was a kid, and Two: I knew the monkey bars were going to be at various spacing intervals. But I did them. In all honesty, had there been 1-2 more I probably would have dropped to the ground, but taking one on at a time got me all the way through (for the record, one of the two challenges I failed were the swinging rings). In some of the endurance challenges, such as carrying a 40 lb sandbag for a couple of hundred yards, I found myself trying to run. I was exhausted, but I found more gumption in my desire to finish strong than I knew existed.

I am Spartan:

As the racers say in a unified voice before the race starts: “I AM SPARTAN”. Not going to lie, it freaking pumps you up. The yelling of that phrase makes you feel like a warrior and it does not care about age, gender, physique, or ability. It’s a declaration and dedication to a champion’s mindset. As you yell it with dozens of other competitors you realize you are not alone in this challenge, but one of the many warriors in the battle.

Mindset. Is. Everything.

If you are willing to vocalize you are a Spartan (a warrior, a champion, a victor), then you can act and embody the best version of you. Does this mean victory comes every time? No. Does it mean you are well on the way to success? Yes. In my professional life, I lead sales teams. I’ve led dozens of individuals, some of whom have delivered month after month, and others who struggle. The difference between those who deliver vs. those struggle at times is most often mindset. As a father, when my boys play sports, I work constantly with them on having a champion’s mindset. Giving up before the race starts (or as you face your goals) will cost you. So, if you ever run a Spartan race, when the time comes, fill your lungs with air and yell (don’t be shy) “I AM SPARTAN!” Embrace your inner warrior, and become the victor.

BONUS: Don’t think. Do it:

I know what you’re thinking. “Holy crap, I need to run a Spartan Race.” Yes, yes you do. So here is a link to find the races run all over the world.

On the flip side, you might have no desire to run a Spartan Race or even a 5K for that matter. Maybe that is easy peasy lemon squeezy for you, or maybe you would rather hang out with my four sons for a night, after giving them each a two liter of Mountain Dew than run a race. No matter which spot you are in, I have no doubt that there is something in your mind right now that you want to do. Something you have been thinking about doing for a while, but have yet to pull the trigger on.

I am going to take a moment and encourage you to do it. Stop waiting to live your life to the fullest because of excuses and or fear. Take the plunge, burn your ships, and rule the world of you. Here is the God honest truth. Only you control you. Nobody else determines the satisfaction of your life. Sure, they might be able to influence you in a negative or positive way, but you and you alone determine if you look back at the end with a sense of satisfaction or regret. So, take your fears by the horns and smash them. Sign yourself up for that race, write that blog, start that business. Do the things that scare you because at the end of the day even failure can become positive if you are willing to learn.

Until Next Time – Adam

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