As part of my partnership with Spartan Races, I was provided a free copy of Joe De Sena’s “Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life.” All expressed opinions are entirely my own.
Tune in to the 2014 Spartan Race World Championship Race, held in Killington, VT on September 20th, broadcast on NBC 11/16 3PM EST!!!
When Spartan Races approached me about reviewing Joe De Sena’s (Founder of Spartan Races) new book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Admittedly, initially, I was concerned that this book might include an egocentric trip through the mind of a very successful and athletic guy. A little judge-y, on my part?!
In actuality, however, this book is an inspiring synopsis of how each and every one of us, despite our current physical and mental shape, can “Spartan Up!” and challenge ourselves to face our next obstacle – whatever that might be. In fact, within the book, Joe repeatedly discusses how he was rejected by Cornell University three times before he was formally accepted, and graduated from the school.
Throughout the book, there is a common theme of relativity that explains how an obstacle may be more challenging for one person than it is for another. As Joe says, “By the time I did my first Ironman, I had already completed eight ten-day races, so the Ironman felt like a warm-up to me…. In contrast, if the most strenuous thing I had ever done was walking to and from the supermarket a quarter of a mile away, an Ironman would have posed an unbelievably imposing obstacle. I was not a natural athlete by any stretch, and I never thought I could do an Ironman when I first heard of one. But after doing these multiday adventure races, I knew I could. It all depends on your frame of reference.”
As the book explains, the Spartan Races were born out of a very challenging and military-style Death Race that Joe originally founded with his friend and fellow adventure-enthusiast, Andy Weinberg. There are varying race lengths, starting from 3-miles to 20+, that include various obstacles and challenges, such as burpees, rope climbs, and greased monkey bars.
In Spartan Up!, Joe explains the purpose behind the race obstacles and how life is full of natural ones. “In scientific terms, it is the ability to avoid the fight-or-flight response to a situation, to remain calm and able to think clearly. This quality is borne of the kind of preparation that prevents the individual from getting stressed out by unfamiliar obstacles…. Preparing for the unexpected is easy. You just need to do the unexpected. Break out of your routine. Go for a run at night. Swim in the open water. Stop and climb a hill in the distance. Go farther during that bike ride.”
** Ultimately, Spartan Up! is an easy and motivational read that leaves you wanting to challenge yourself more. The book contains stories ranging from Olympic athletes to 400-pound individuals taking on the obstacles in front of them – whether that’s a week-long Iditarod race or a walk around the block. Joe provides an inspiring narrative about how each of us can face life head-on and push ourselves to be better, smarter and stronger individuals, embracing the true embodiment of the Spartan spirit.
We wanted to surround ourselves with people who inspire us. The people who inspire us the most are those who don’t waver, don’t quit, don’t take shortcuts, and don’t fall short. Each of us can be one of those people if we choose to be. Sacrifice time now for more time later. -Andy Weinberg
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