If you've ever participated in a Spartan Race, then you probably have a good idea of what the "Spartan way of life" is all about.
If you haven't yet experienced a Spartan Race, then you will without a doubt want to give one a try after you finish reading Spartan Up!, the new book by Spartan Race CEO and co-founder Joe DeSena.
Hold on, I know what you're thinking. I just made it sound like this book is a huge promotional pamphlet all about the race, but it's not. Of course it's meant to promote the event, but Spartan Up! is so much more than that.
What it really is, is an inspiring collection of stories and lessons about successfully overcoming adversity and some of life's most challenging obstacles.
Not only is DeSena a co-founder of Spartan Race, but also an avid adventure racer himself. His own participation in some of the world's most arduous and lengthy adventure races eventually sparked the idea for him to create a race of his own. Only, this one would be more accessible to the general population then say, a 100-mile endurance run through the Hawaiian forest.
Now, with Spartan Race events scheduled on every other day of the 2014 calendar year and more than 1 million participants since the first race in 2006, Spartan Race has taken full flight and DeSena is encouraging more and more people to join the movement by sharing the most important principles of the Spartan code.
In Spartan Up! he shares his secrets to success and encourages readers to step outside of their comfort zones, providing the tools and concepts needed to accomplish anything in any area of life.
Continue reading for a quick glimpse into a few of the most important lessons from his book.
-5 Ways to Live and Train Like a Spartan Warrior-
1. Change Your Frame of Reference
DeSena believes that in order to overcome a challenge, you need to see things from a different perspective. For example, if in the past you've completed a marathon, then remembering that experience and how you powered through it despite pain and fatigue while enduring some other hardship, you'll have the right frame of reference to assure yourself that you can succeed.
“When you’re faced with challenges on a daily basis you’re more likely to become immune to the fact that you’re being presented with an obstacle,” DeSena told me over the phone. Changing your frame of reference will better prepare you to successfully tackle any task.
2. Every Obstacle Presents an Opportunity
Instead of finding a way around them or avoiding them, DeSena believes in tackling challenges head on. He depicts this lesson with a story about a king who blocked a roadway with a large boulder. After several travelers chose to go around it, the boy who finally decided to move it out of the way was rewarded with a purse full of gold coins with a note from the king that said it was for the person who moved the boulder.
“I force myself out of my comfort zone on a daily basis and I try to announce those challenges to others,” he told me. “Once you know how good the rewards are at the end it’s easier to take the first step,” said DeSena.
3. Toss Your Cookies
This concept refers to a 1972 study by Stanford researcher Walter Mischel. The experiment, which DeSena refers to as “the cookie test,” presented a group of children with the option to enjoy their favorite treat (a marshmallow, a cookie or a pretzel) right away or to wait 15 minutes and then receive two treats. Mischel tracked the children as they grew into adults and concluded that the children who chose to wait led more successful lives. “Cookie refusers became winners,” DeSena writes. “I believe that the instant gratification that the cookie test measures is the number one reason we fail as humans in many aspects of our lives.”
To explain this lesson in terms of everyday obstacles, DeSena offers examples like waking up early to workout (waiting for the cookie) instead of staying in bed (taking the cookie) or staying up all night drinking with friends (taking the cookie) instead of getting a good night’s sleep and being more productive the next day (waiting for the cookie).
4. Everyone Matters
Taught to him cleverly by a college professor, DeSena says this life lesson is one he’ll never forget. After ending a graded quiz with a final question asking students to recall the first name of the school’s janitor (which DeSena couldn’t answer correctly), the professor explained, “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’” The Spartan code isn’t only about strength and grit, but living all aspects of your life honorably.
5. Eat to Train
The Spartan approach to diet is simple: “The human fighting machines that protected Sparta ran best on simple, clean foods,” DeSena writes. “You are what you eat, and if you eat poorly, you are more prone to injury, health complications and possibly a shorter lifespan. A good diet will provide your body with the energy it needs to complete a successful race. It will also make you feel better and add healthy years to your life.”
See also: 10 Essential Obstacle Race Accessories