“Everybody dies, but not everyone lives”
There’s no denying that completing a Spartan Race is an intense undertaking, and many of us who have already experienced one (or many!) of these epic events can attest to this fact. The act of signing up for a Spartan Race requires not just the financial transaction of reserving a space in the starting corral on race day, but also the commitment and dedication to begin training and preparing for an epic day full of challenges, struggles, and triumphs. It is an experience that soon-to-be Spartans both excitedly anticipate and anxiously dread, as each day leading up to the event marches them one step closer to a potentially life-altering adventure.
Having personally completed four Spartan Races to-date, I can personally testify to the valuable lessons I’ve learned about myself at each event. I’ve discovered my own personal strengths and weaknesses, persevered when obstacles and terrain became challenging, and crossed the finish line proud to call myself a Spartan. And I’m not alone, as hundreds of thousands of people now earn the title of “Spartan” each year, scrambling their way along miles of treacherous landscape in pursuit of gaining a greater sense of self-worth. Spartan Race has successfully created a band of passionate, vibrant people who have made the conscious choice not to take the easy way out in life. Those who have chosen to resist the temptation to stay within their comfort zone, and to participate in an event which is centered around challenging the social “norms” that have been ingrained in us since birth.
Joe De Sena, founder of Spartan Race, wrote his book “Spartan Up” in the hopes of spreading the message of what the Spartan events strive to instill in the hearts of our sedentary, convenience-driven society. Joe wants to shift each person’s frame of reference by helping us realize that we live in an world which demands instant gratification, where hard work is viewed as an inconvenience. We want our food fast, our weight loss instant, and our lifestyle constantly comfortable. The idea of logging extended periods of hard work to gain impressive results in the long run seems less desirable than receiving an instant, less remarkable outcome for minimal efforts. And unfortunately, this way of living has created individuals who no longer maintain an appreciation for the things they possess based on the hard work that has been put forth. We instead live in a society that seems to be mostly filled with apathetic, uninspired people.
I was able to speak briefly with Joe De Sena, and we discussed his ultimate goal for the book, as well as the message he had felt compelled to share. When asked what the number one lesson that he hopes would be gleaned from those who read his book, he replied:
“..a great frame of reference in life creates a great life. We don’t know how good we have it currently and we have to go backwards in life in order to go forward. It becomes incrementally harder to gain happiness with increasing levels of creature comforts that we have.”
I then inquired as to his thoughts on what he fears may happen to us as a society if we do not take to heart the key strategies that are addressed in his book. He passionately reacted, stating:
“I think the future will show us that access to everything, over indulgence, and the virtual elimination of physical education at young ages is a recipe for disaster. If we don’t make some very simple changes quickly we will only make it much harder for future generations not just in life spans and healthy living but in the ability to deal with any adversity in life.”
Joe truly believes that “this is a book anyone can gain from”, and you can tell that he is passionate about facilitating a movement toward healthy and active living. He believes that Spartan Race may just be the tool to help rip sedentary adults away from their comfortable existence, and into a life that is vibrant, that is thrilling, and that takes full advantage of every conscious moment.
Finally, I inquired Joe as to how he envisions the progression of Spartan Race as a physical event over the next few years. And as expected, his response was confident, even eager, as he exclaimed:
“We expect to really gain a foothold with a segment of the population interested in living a more Spartan lifestyle. Less stuff, less junk food, healthier habits, and races that test how they are living. We also hope to get closer to our goal of getting into the Olympics.”
With lofty dreams of a world which appreciates a hearty run over an afternoon nap, the choice to take stairs over elevators, and the love of a mental challenge over a quick answer, Joe releases his book in the midst of a society that desperately needs a wake up call. And maybe, just maybe, this book will bring about an awakening.
“Spartan Up” is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, and will be released on May 13th, 2014. I was so pleased to have been provided with an advanced copy to review, as this book left me inspired not only to live a more enriched and active lifestyle, but also determined not to take a single moment for granted. What a ground-breaking, inspirational read!